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You may have heard the term colic applied to any baby who cries a great deal. Not all crying babies have colic, but all colicky babies cry—and they cry hard.

Hearing your baby cry with colic, and not knowing why it's happening or what to do about it is painful for you; I know this because one of my four children suffered with colic. Although many years have passed since then, I remember it vividly. Hearing my baby cry night after night and not knowing how to help her was gut wrenching, heartbreaking and frustrating.

Since colic occurs in newborns, parents often feel they are doing something wrong to create the situation. Their vulnerability and lack of experience puts them in the position of questioning their own ability to take care of their baby.

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The most important piece of research I discovered was this: It's not your fault. Any baby can have colic. But knowledge about what it is and what you can do about it can be empowering.

Here's what to know about colic in babies, including symptoms of colic, possible causes, when colic starts and ends, what to do for colic, and when to call the doctor.

What are the symptoms of colic in babies?

Colic looks different from normal crying in babies. They may stiffen their little bodies, or curl up as if in pain. They may cry so hard that they don't seem like they even know you are there. When babies cry like this, they take in a lot of air, which creates gas and more pain, which makes them cry even more. Symptoms of colic to look for:

  • A regular period of nonstop, inconsolable crying, typically late in the day
  • Crying bouts that last one to three hours or more
  • A healthy and happy disposition at all other times of the day

When does colic start and end?

Colic occurs only to newborn babies, up to about four to five months of age.

Are there specific causes of colic in babies?

Researchers are still unsure of colic's exact cause. Some experts believe that colic is related to the immaturity of a baby's digestive system. Others theorize that a baby's immature nervous system and inability to handle the constant sensory stimulation that surrounds her cause a breakdown by the end of the day, when colic most often occurs.

Dr. Harvey Karp, in his book The Happiest Baby on the Block, introduced a new theory. He believes that all babies are born three months too early, and that some babies find their new world too difficult to handle. They yearn for the comforting conditions that occurred in the womb.

Whatever the cause—and it may be a combination of all the theories—colic is among the most exasperating conditions that parents of new babies face.

Can colic be prevented?

Given that we aren't sure what causes colic, we don't know if it can be prevented. Even if you do everything “right" and take all the steps to discourage colic, it may still happen.

If you think your baby has colic, talk with your pediatrician and take your baby in for a checkup to rule out any medical cause for your baby's crying. If your baby is given a clean bill of health, then you'll know colic is the culprit in the daily crying bouts.

Things that may help your colicky baby

Remember that nothing you do will eliminate colic completely until your baby's system is mature and able to settle on its own. That said, experienced parents and professionals can offer ways to help your baby through.

Here are 22 things to try for your colicky baby:

  • Hold your baby in a more upright position for feeding and directly afterwards.
  • Experiment with how often and when you burp your baby.
  • Offer meals in a quiet setting.
  • If baby likes a pacifier, offer him one.
  • Invest in a baby sling or carrier and use it during colicky periods.
  • If the weather's too unpleasant for an outside stroll, bring your stroller in the house and walk your baby around.
  • Give your baby a warm bath.
  • Place a warm towel or wrapped water bottle on baby's tummy (taking caution that the temperature is warm but not hot).
  • Hold your baby with her legs curled up toward her belly.
  • Massage your baby's tummy, or give him a full massage.
  • Swaddle your baby in a warm blanket.
  • Lay your baby tummy down across your lap and massage or pat her back.
  • Hold your baby in a rocking chair, or put him in a swing.
  • Walk with baby in a quiet, dark room while you hum or sing.
  • Try keeping your baby away from highly stimulating situations during the day when possible to prevent sensory overload, and understand that a particularly busy day may mean a fussier evening.
  • Lie on your back and lay your baby on top of your tummy down while massaging his back. (Transfer your baby to his bed if he falls asleep.)
  • Take baby for a ride in the car.
  • Play soothing music or turn on white noise such as a vacuum cleaner or running water, or play a CD of nature sounds.
  • If breastfeeding, feed on demand (cue feeding), for nutrition as well as comfort, as often as your baby needs a calming influence.
  • If breastfeeding or pumping, try avoiding foods that may cause gas in your baby. Eliminate one possible cause for a few days and see if it makes a difference. The most common baby tummy offenders are dairy products, caffeine, cabbage, broccoli and other gassy vegetables. But don't assume the culprit, if there is one, will be obvious: I know one mother whose baby reacted loudly and consistently after any meal that included eggplant, asparagus or onions.
  • If bottle feeding, offer more frequent but smaller meals; experiment with different formulas with your doctor's approval.
  • If bottle feeding, try different types of bottles and nipples that prevent air from entering your baby as he drinks, such as those with curved bottles or collapsible liners.

Look for patterns to your baby's crying; these can provide clues as to which of these suggestions are most likely to help. Stick with an idea for a few days to see if it helps. Watch for any signs of improvement (not necessarily complete quiet). If the particular course of action doesn't seem to change anything, don't get discouraged, just try something else.

As a last resort, ask your doctor about medications available for colic and gas.

Tips for parents coping with colic

As difficult as colic is for a baby, it is just as challenging for the parents. This can be especially hard for a mother who has other children to care for, who has returned to work, or who is suffering from the baby blues or postpartum depression.

Even if everything else in life is perfect, colic is taxing. Here are a few things you can do to take some of the stress out of these colicky times:

  • Know that your baby will cry during his colicky time, and while you can do things to make your baby more comfortable, nothing you can do will totally stop the crying. This is not a result of anything you've done or not done.
  • Plan outings for the times of day when baby is usually happy, or if outings keep your baby happy, plan them for the colicky times.
  • Take advantage of another person's offer to take a turn with the baby, even if it's just so that you can take a quiet bath or shower.
  • Keep reminding yourself that this is only temporary; it will pass.
  • Avoid keeping a long to-do list right now; only do what's most important.
  • Talk to other parents of colicky babies so you can share ideas and comfort each other.
  • If the crying is getting to you and making you tense or angry, put your baby in his crib, or give him to someone else to hold for a while so that you don't accidentally shake or harm your baby. (Shaking a baby can cause permanent brain damage, so if you feel angry, and colic can do that to you, put your baby down.)
  • Know that babies do not suffer long-term harm from having colic.

When should I call the doctor about colic?

Anytime you are concerned about your baby, call your doctor. That goes for anything concerning your precious little one.

In the case of colic, be sure to make that call if you notice any of the following:

  • Your baby's crying is accompanied by vomiting.
  • Your baby is not gaining weight.
  • The colicky behavior lasts longer than four months.
  • Your baby seems to be in pain.
  • Your baby has a fever.
  • Your baby doesn't want to be held or handled.
  • The crying spree isn't limited to one bout in the evening.
  • Your baby does not have regular bowel movements or wet diapers.
  • You notice other problems that don't appear on the previous list of symptoms.
  • Your baby's crying is making you angry or depressed.

This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth Pantley (McGraw-Hill, 2003).

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As a mid-Spring holiday, we never knew exactly what to expect from the weather on Easter when I was growing up in Michigan: Would we get to wear our new Sunday dresses without coats? Or would we be hunting for eggs while wearing snowsuits?

Although what the temperature had in store was really anyone's guess, there were a few special traditions my sister and I could always depend on—and it won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite memories revolved around food. After all, experts say memories are strongest when they tie senses together, which certainly seems to be true when it comes to holiday meals that involve the sounds of laughter and the taste of amazing food.

Now that I'm a parent, I'm experiencing Easter anew as my children discover the small delights of chocolate, pre-church brunch and a multi-generational dinner. While I still look forward to the treats and feasting, I'm realizing now that the sweetest thing of all is how these traditions bring our family together around one table.

For us, the build-up to Easter eats is an extended event. Last year's prep work began weeks in advance when my 3-year-old and I sat down to plan the brunch menu, which involved the interesting suggestion of "green eggs and ham." When the big morning rolled around, his eyes grew to the size of Easter eggs out of pure joy when the dish was placed on the table.

This year, rather than letting the day come and go in a flash, we are creating traditions that span weeks and allow even the littlest members of the family to feel involved.

Still, as much as I love enlisting my children's help, I also relish the opportunity to create some magic of my own with their Easter baskets—even if the Easter Bunny gets the credit. This year, I'm excited to really personalize the baskets by getting an "adoptable" plush unicorn for my daughter and the Kinder Chocolate Mini Eggs that my son hasn't stopped talking about since seeing at the store. (You can bet this mama is stocking up on some for herself, too.)

At the same time, Easter as a parent has opened my eyes to how much effort can be required...

There is the selection of the right Easter outfits for picture-perfect moments.

There is the styling of custom Easter baskets.

There is the filling of plastic eggs and strategic placement of them throughout the yard.

But when the cameras are put away and we all join together around the table for the family dinner at the end of the day, I can finally take a deep breath and really enjoy—especially with the knowledge that doing the dishes is my husband's job.

This article was sponsored by Kinder. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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On Friday President Trump announced that the Centers for Disease Control is now advising people to wear a cloth mask if they need to go out in public. It's not a rule, he says, but a recommendation.

"It's really going to be a voluntary thing," President Trump told reporters. "I'm not choosing to do it."

First Lady Melania Trump is urging others to do it, tweeting, "As the weekend approaches I ask that everyone take social distancing & wearing a mask/face covering seriously. #COVID19 is a virus that can spread to anyone—we can stop this together."

What the CDC says about cloth face masks:

The CDC says it's recommending cloth face masks because recent studies show that people can have COVID-19 while asymptomatic, meaning they feel fine and because they don't know they are sick they might still be going about their daily routine in their community.

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Basically, masks don't protect the wearer as much as they protect people from the wearer (who might not know they are sick) by blocking respiratory droplets

"So it's not going to protect you, but it is going to protect your neighbor," Dr. Daniel Griffin at Columbia University, an expert on infectious diseases, tells NPR.

CDC experts are "advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure."

They say if you're going somewhere where it's hard to maintain the proper social distance of six feet, like a grocery store or a pharmacy, then it's a good idea to wear a simple cloth mask.

"The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance," the CDC states.

"You may need to improvise a cloth face covering using a scarf or bandana," the agency notes on its website.

A DIY cloth mask is an extra layer of protection:

The CDC still says that staying home and practicing good hand hygiene is the best protection against COVID-19, but a cloth mask would be an extra layer of protection if you must go out to get food or unavoidable medical care.

According to Dr. Scott Segal, chair of anesthesiology at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, certain types of fabric are better than others when it comes to making a mask. While he CDC says improvised bandanas or scarfs are better than nothing, Segal says DIY mask makers should aim a little higher for the masks to be effective.

"You have to use relatively high-quality cloth," Dr.Segal, who is researching this topic, tells NBC News.

According to Segal you don't want to use a knit fabric (like an old T-shirt) but rather a woven fabric. He suggests a double layer of heavyweight cotton with a thread count of at least 180 (like quilters cotton). If you don't have a cotton with that high of a thread count, line it with flannel.

For more tips on how to sew a fabric face mask, check out these instructions from Kaiser Permanente.

No-sew methods:

If you're not a sewer you can still fashion a mask, and there are plenty of no-sew tutorials online showing you how. Use heavyweight woven fabric like Segal suggests and make one of these without a sewing machine.

How To Make a Pleated Face Mask // Washable, Reusable, No-Sewing Required youtu.be

Should kids wear masks? Talk to your doctor.

The CDC is not recommending masks if you're just going for a walk around the block or playing in the backyard (which is the extent of most kids' outings these days). The masks are more for grocery runs, which many parents are opting to do alone these days.

But solo parents and those with partners who are in the military know that leaving the kids behind isn't always an option if you're the only adult in the home. If that's your circumstance, choose delivery options when possible to avoid taking your children to public places like grocery stores and pharmacies (the kinds of places the CDC recommends masks for).

If you are concerned that you may need to take your child somewhere where a mask would be required, call your pediatrician for advice on whether a mask is appropriate for your child's age and circumstances. Babies' faces should not be covered.

If you have no one to watch your children while you get groceries and cannot get them delivered try contacting your local government, community groups and churches for leads on grocery delivery help. They may be able to put you in touch with someone who can fetch groceries for you so that you don't have to take your children to the store with you.

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Lizzie climbed up the playground stairs on all fours, walked across the small suspension bridge and slid down the big red slide at our neighborhood park. I followed just inches behind my 4-year-old daughter ready to catch her.

I had become her shadow by necessity. Her actions were often unpredictable and sometimes dangerous so my arms became her safety net. Her big brown eyes and unruly curly brown hair encapsulated her carefree spirit, and I adored her with a love I never thought myself capable of.

She walked over to the swings and stood there, stiff, her eyes glazed over. She didn't look to me for help. She didn't point, raise her arms up or ask me to place her in the swing. But I knew what she wanted—I sensed it.

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"Do you want to swing, Lizzie?" I asked in a gentle voice. She remained silent.

I didn't expect an answer, but I always asked in hopes today was the day she would choose to use her voice to form a word for the sake of communicating with me. I placed her in the swing anyway and pushed her to the exact height I knew she preferred.

A look of contentment came across her face and a giant smile curled her lips. She was in her happy place. This place was a place I wasn't allowed in—not yet anyway. She lived in an alternative universe inside her head, and after the park, we would spend the rest of the day inside using therapy techniques to pull her from this place into the real world. I missed my daughter and the connection we once had.

There were so many quirks I thought were hers alone, when in fact they were symptoms of autism spectrum disorder.

Here are five possible signs of autism parents should know about. If you notice something that concerns you, please reach out to your pediatrician.

1. Change in language

As a baby, Lizzie's language gradually changed from babbling to gibberish. "With typically developing language skills, infants will babble often as early as two to three months indicating first instances of intentional and social communication," says licensed clinical speech language pathologist Julie Liberman. "An early sign of autism may be seen in infants creating nonsense syllables without added social-communicative behaviors."

Lizzie lost her social-communicative sounds and began to mimic noises from her environment such as screeching sounds or sirens. She also developed a few sounds such as "diddle diddle" that she would repeat all day long. The transition was subtle and slow—enough that at first I didn't recognize that it was happening. .

2. Sensory processing issues

"Sensory processing is how our brain and body organize and respond to sensory information. Issues develop when we are over or under-responsive to sensory information which impacts the body's ability to organize it, or modulate it and so responses range outside of typical parameters and dysregulation is observed," writes licensed occupational therapist Rachel Wolverton.

Lizzie walked on her tiptoes, flapped her arms when she was excited and ran full speed into the couch cushions over and over again. Many toddlers do similar behaviors, and we thought she was just being quirky and adorable. As part of her diagnosis, though, we came to understand that these repeated behaviors were signals that her processing was under-stimulated. She needed these movements to help her body and brain function. This also works the opposite way, too. Many kids are over-sensitive to lights, sounds and/or touch, so they become easily overstimulated. They might cover their ears, melt down when clothes are put on their bodies or withdraw from crowds.

3. Lack of response to name

Lizzie displayed what I call "selective hearing." I would stand in front of her, saying her name with a raised voice and she wouldn't respond or look up. She appeared to be deaf, but as soon as the theme song from her favorite Dora the Explorer TV show came on, she would run from the other room to watch.

As autistic teen advocate Matteo Musso explains, "Because we hear your voice so much, we don't usually respond to our name. It's that you say our name the same way all the time. A TV is more auditorily complex. One-word, same voice, can get lost in our thoughts and in our brain."

4. Repetitive behavior

My daughter began lining up her toys by color and her green peas at the dinner table. We thought she was brilliant! She is brilliant, but as it turns out, not because of her repetitive behavior.

While many children love repetition—as any parent who's got their child's favorite bedtime story memorized knows—what I learned is that the kind of repetitive behavior we saw in Lizzie is one of the core symptoms of autism.

"Individuals with autism typically find much comfort in repetitive behaviors, giving them a sense of control over their environment in a quite unruly world," says Dr. Caroline W. Ford, clinical psychologist and director of the Fairhill School and Diagnostic Assessment Center in Dallas. As she explains, autistic children experience real difficulty when their repetitive behaviors are interrupted: "When asked to change or alter the repetitive behavior, many autistic children become overly anxious."

5. Loss of connection

One of the most beautiful moments between mother and child is the first time her baby looks into her mom's eyes. It was in that moment with Lizzie, the connection formed was so strong I knew I would be willing to do anything for her.

Slowly over the course of months, she became more and more distant. She wandered around the house aimlessly and didn't seem to need me at all. As long as there was food and drink available, she was content to be all alone. It was hard to measure because it was a feeling, a distancing, a loss of connection. I second-guessed my feelings regularly. Mothers have a built-in intuition with their children, which should never be underestimated.

After my daughter's diagnosis with autism at the age of two, we researched and implemented a 30-hours-a-week home therapy program (although it's important to know that early intervention supports can also be found through community organizations and school systems—you don't have to do this alone). Now, I'm happy to say, Lizzie has made good progress, and I've found (and offered) support in the generous community of parents of autistic children like mine. I even started a non-profit, United in Autism, which partners with local charities to bring community-building, emotional-support events to special needs moms all over the country.

My daughter continues to be a source of joy and amazement. Most importantly, I know now that my daughter and I are not alone—and we never were.

Learn + Play

Starting this weekend Target and Walmart will be limiting the number of people allowed in its stores to give shoppers and staff more space to spread out and adhere to social distancing recommendations during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Beginning April 4, Target will actively monitor and, when needed, limit the total number of people inside based on the store's specific square footage," Target notes in a news release.

Walmart's corporate message is similar: "Starting Saturday, we will limit the number of customers who can be in a store at once. Stores will now allow no more than five customers for each 1,000 square feet at a given time, roughly 20 percent of a store's capacity."

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At Target you will also notice staff wearing gloves and masks over the next two weeks as the company steps up its coronavirus protection measures.

Many people are choosing to stay home and order groceries online, but that's not an option for everyone as long lines at some Target's prove.

"We're incredibly proud of the commitment our more than 350,000 frontline team members have demonstrated to ensure millions of guests can count on Target, and we'll continue to focus our efforts on supporting them," says Target's Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, John Mulligan.

Target is open this weekend but—along with Costco, Aldi, Publix and Trader Joe's—Target stores will be closed on Easter Sunday to give the essential employees in these stores a much-deserved break.

News

I was blissfully asleep on the couch while my little one was occupied elsewhere with toys, books and my partner. She got bored with what they were doing, escaped from his watch and, sensing my absence, set about looking for me. Finding me on the couch, nose-level, she peeled back my one available eyelid, singing, "Mama? Mama? ...You there? Wake UP!"

Sound familiar? Nothing limits sleep more than parenthood. And nothing is more sought after as a parent than a nap, if not a good night's rest.

But Mother Nature practically guarantees that you are likely to be woken up by a toddler—they're hardwired to find you (and get your attention) when you're "away."

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According to attachment theory, when you respond to the needs of your child, a strong bond is formed and woven into their personality, serving as a basis for all future emotional ties. So your kids love and depend on you. And they can feel anxious when involuntarily separated from you, like when you are asleep.

Child psychologist Esther Cohen suggests that it is fairly universal that infants and toddlers try to open the eyes of their sleeping parents. Her theory is that when you are present, but with your eyes shut, you are not responsive, and on some level this causes your child a form of "emotional distress." So the best and easiest way for them to feel better is to wake you up.

Cohen believes that reestablishing eye contact bridges the gap between your physical presence and your emotional presence, making the situation feel normal again. Your kids are relieved that you are alert and there to interact with them—and that you are available to protect them.

Kids are hardwired to seek our attention all the time.

At birth, your brain is only about 25% of its adult volume. Born particularly vulnerable, you depend on years of loving care. This prolonged helplessness has resulted in the evolution of certain behaviors—like baby coos, smiles and crying—that increase your odds of survival within your family.

By the time you are a toddler, you've developed a sense of who you are and what you can do in relation to people and things. You also know that you are a separate person from your parents. Toddlers also have the sense of what's called object permanence—the ability to understand who or what is, or is not, present. That means you can search for objects and people. (And wake them up when you find them.)

Bottom line: When you sneak off for a nap and your toddler looks for you, know that this is a natural instinct for them, and they will grow out of it. But for now, when you are asleep, you are not there, so your kids must. wake. you. up.

And for an extra fun fact: Research indicates that this also could be why it's so hard for you to ignore your partner when working from home. They are there, but technically not available, so you

continually find reasons to interact with them—just like waking them up from a nap. 😉
Life
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