Swaddle – can make a crying baby feel as if it’s back in the comforting, familiar, snug confines of your womb. Make it tight enough to prevent them wriggling their arms and legs free.
Change position – if cradling your colicky baby face-up doesn’t work, try face-down, with your hand under their tummy and head on your forearm.
Pacify – try giving your colicky baby a dummy to suck on.
Burp – babies can gulp down air when they cry, so try gentle thumps on the back, either with their head over your shoulder, sitting up with your arm supporting their neck and chest, or lying face down across your lap.
Get moving – before birth, babies are used to a lot of motion, so try imitating it. Drive them around, cradle them in a rocking seat, swing them gently in your arms .
Massage – skin-to-skin contact can be very soothing to a colicky baby, it can also help them sleep better. Try slow, firm strokes over their chest, back, face, arms and legs.
If you’re worried or need advice about your baby’s crying, take them to your doctor.
In their first four months, when a healthy baby cries for more than three hours a day, more than three days a week for several weeks, they are described as “colicky”.
But no one really knows the causes of colic. Theories include reflux (heartburn), air (gas) in their intestinal tract, babies’ immature nervous / digestive systems, intolerance of cow’s milk, and so on.
So the first and obvious thing to do is to get your baby examined by your doctor, to make sure there’s no medical reason behind the crying.
If they are physically OK, advice might include burping your baby more frequently, changing to another formula (or a soy formula), and giving “gripe water” (one without alcohol) or a range of other over-the-counter drugs, herbs, and supplements – but always ask your doctor about them first, and don’t be disappointed if none of them do the trick. You might just have to get through these first four months or so and wait for the fussiness to die down by itself!
Remember, if you are at all worried about colic, or any other possible medical symptoms, bring your baby to your doctor.
Nappy rash is most commonly caused by bacteria or a fungal infection, dietary changes (including your diet if you’re breastfeeding), or simply if your baby is pooing a lot.
Whatever the cause, many recommend not using baby wipes that contain alcohol (maybe using a warm-water cloth instead), and letting your baby ‘air-dry’ before fitting their new nappy. And make sure any barrier cream you use to treat the rash is scent-free. If the nappy rash gets worse, visit your doctor.
Rashes in young children are quite common and are usually not serious. But you should visit your doctor if your baby:
- has a fever or is off their food
- shows small red spots that don’t fade when pressed
- has a rash lasting longer than two days
- has a rash that is oozing
- has a rash that looks red and swollen.
With most rashes, gently wash the area with a mild soap, gently pat dry, and leave uncovered. To ease any itchiness or discomfort, try placing a wet cloth on the rash.
Cradle cap & baby acne
Cradle cap is a red, flaky, scaly rash on the scalp. Common in babies under three months, while it might look alarming, cradle cap isn’t contagious, and won’t usually cause itchiness or discomfort.
Cradle cap will go away in time. If you don’t want to wait, you can try spreading a little olive oil on the scalp twice a day, leave it a couple of minutes, then brush off the flakes.
Baby acne is caused by an increase in oil gland production on your baby’s skin. You can best treat it with warm water and a clean cloth. Like cradle cap, baby acne also dies down in time.
After your baby is around a month old, you can use a moisturising ointment if you feel their skin is too dry.
But choose non-scented, alcohol-free skincare products, soaps and laundry detergents. Your baby’s skin can be very sensitive to them and cause a rash or increased nasal congestion.
Many newborn babies develop jaundice. It is not an illness, but a medical condition cause by an excess of bilirubin in the blood that causes the skin, whites of the eyes, and mucus membranes in the mouth to turn a yellowish color.
In most healthy babies, jaundice will peak after around five days before fading away on its own (two to three weeks for breastfed babies).
If your baby is jaundiced when you leave hospital, have your doctor check them out as soon as possible.
And if you notice signs of jaundice developing once you’re home, visit your doctor straight away (there is a risk in extreme cases of it causing brain damage).
Bathing your baby
Before the umbilical cord stump falls off, give just a sponge bath. Gently wipe them all over with a soft washcloth using just warm water.
After the umbilical cord stump has fallen off, and the area is dry, you can bathe them in a couple of inches of warm water in a baby bath, using a mild soap and special baby shampoo.
How often? If your baby’s skin can handle it, many babies love a daily bath. However, if their skin dries out easily, every two or three days is just fine.