The thing that hit me hardest as a new parent was the lack of sleep. With my first, there were days when I wondered if I'd ever sleep again. And about the only thing I remember vividly from that hazy newborn period was asking other moms when their babies started sleeping longer at night. Having a colicky little one is exhausting, but there are still things you should never do to get a colicky baby to sleep. Looking back on being a new mom, it would've been nice to know what suggestions I should ignore from the start.
According to Parents, the actual medical definition of colic is unexplained crying for longer than three hours a day and over three days a week. Every baby goes through crying stages and difficulty with sleep, but colic can take it to a new level. Colic signs usually start between 2 and 3 weeks old, escalate at 6 to 8 weeks, and finally fade around 3 to 4 months. However, the American Pregnancy Association reports that some babies may even experience colic until 9 months old. And because the actual cause of colic is rough to pinpoint, it can difficult to know how to soothe a colicky baby.
Sometimes, what's even more difficult, however, is knowing what not to do. Below are a few things you definitely should not do when getting your colicky baby to sleep.
1. Ignore Your Baby
What to Expect notes that it's important to respond to your colicky baby. Some parents want to utilize sleep training once their babies have reached a certain age, but if your little one is colicky, it may actually have the reverse effect. Studies show responding quickly to your baby will reduce crying in the long run.
2. Offer Medicine
Although medication may be necessary if prescribed by your pediatrician or if your baby is sick, it shouldn't be used as a sleeping aid. According to The Baby Sleep Site, pediatricians worry that if babies take medications long-term, they may become dependent on them to fall asleep – psychologically or even physically. Combine the long-term effects with the fact the majority of colicky babies are too young for most medicines, it's a good idea to avoid it.
3. Try Cereal In A Bottle
Regardless of what you may have heard, cereal in your baby's bottle isn't a good solution to get them to sleep. According to healthychildren.org, a baby's digestive system isn't ready to process cereal until around 6 months old. Additionally, giving babies cereal before they're developmentally ready can up the chances of gagging or inhaling it into their lungs.
4. Over Stimulate
Flipping on the TV, turning on lights, or even talking during colicky fits may actually make things worse. According to What to Expect, keeping a peaceful environment, with little distraction, is best to help a colicky baby sleep. This generally means dimming lights, shutting out noise, and staying calm and quiet if possible.
5. Get Worked Up
Constant sleepless nights are sure to affect anyone's mood. Parents notes that you still need to make it a priority to take care of yourself. If you notice you're getting frustrated or feel unusually angry, it's time to walk away for a couple minutes. Never allow yourself to get too agitated; instead, take a breather and go back in or switch off with your partner.
6. Shorten Nap Time
Although it may seem counterintuitive to encourage nap time with a colicky baby who's awake at night, it's actually a good thing, according to Colic Calm. Making sure your baby is getting enough sleep, even during the day, can actually help them sleep better at night.