Having a baby with colic can be a very testing time for the parents. Its probable that no one will be sleeping very well or for long stretches of time. Extremely fussy/colicky infants generally sleep less throughout a 24hour period than infants with no colic (11.8 hours vs 14 hours per day). Colicky infants sleep less during the day, evening and night but the biggest difference is at night. However, there are a few things that can be done to help survive this difficult period.
Helping a colicky baby by creating a sticking to a routine will be the best thing to survive the first few months of crying a stress. Routines work for very young children to help them recognize and predict what will happen next. This gives them a sense of power and at the same time reassures them if they are stressed or tired.
Its only natural to comfort a baby in pain, but it´s important to pay attention to how we comfort a colicky baby. It´s very common for a colicky baby to miss out on the chance to learn how to self soothe because they often get so much help in falling asleep. Which means that as we are comforting our colicky babies we are inadvertently enforcing bad sleep habits. So even after the colic has passed or been controlled, these babies still don´t sleep well. Then they must learn or relearn how to put themselves to sleep independently without the rocking, swinging, long drives in the car etc.
Reading a colicky baby´s sleep cues can be difficult. For them, tiredness, hunger, tummy cramps and pain all kind of blur together and their cries will seem very similar for each one. It can be difficult to figure out why they are crying and therefore make it hard to respond consistently to what they are trying to tell us.
Watching the clock and not your baby can be useful. Pay attention to how long he has been awake (sleep guide here), what time he ate, how this may provoke vomiting, what times of day he is settled etc. Keeping a diary or record of these things will make it much easier to find patterns.
Make sure he naps on time during the day, because being tired on top of feeling pain in your tummy must just make everything feel 100 times worse. I suggest taking your baby into a quiet dimly lit room for a while before nap and bedtime. Sit quietly with him and you may be able to notice his sleep cues more clearly here. It will also help him to recognize that the quiet environment means time for bed.
Most colicky babies need to be held upright for about 20-30mins after eating. But be careful not to let him fall asleep in your arms. We don´t want to create an association or you may have to hold him to sleep every time. If you baby fusses or cries when you lay him down in the cot, you can stay and soothe him until he falls asleep.
Thankfuly, there are ways we can help reduce the baby colic pain while is happening. If we follow the Kusi Wawa method (www.kusiwawa.com), using the wawa band and the wawa wrap, we can really help settle your colicky baby and help them relax and fall asleep more easily.
Try to have enough time between feeding and bedtime for a little activity. A play on the mat or a short story or song then put your baby into bed drowsy but awake.
I also suggest arranging your schedule so that your baby eats after his naps and not before where possible. This gives him time to digest before he lies down and hopefully will reduce his reflux/pain.