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Baby Crying? 20 Strategies for Soothing Your #ColickyBaby

Baby Crying? 20 Strategies for Soothing Your #ColickyBaby

Parenting, mercy, what a challenge! Do you have a newborn baby? Will the baby crying ever stop? If that baby doesn’t stop crying, I don’t know what I’m going to do!!!!

What is colic and what does a colicky baby do? According to the Mayo Clinic, “Colic is a frustrating condition marked by predictable periods of significant distress in an otherwise well-fed, healthy baby. Babies with colic often cry more than three hours a day, three days a week, for three weeks or longer.” If you don’t get it, please practice some empathy with that new mommy and daddy because this precious newborn is still just as “perfect” as yours.  As one of my favorite people has said, “there are no perfect parents, and you’re not going to be the first.”

The Mayo Clinic tells us that there is no way to soothe your colicky baby. Well, doctors don’t know everything. They still don’t know what causes colic. Perhaps it’s less about soothing your baby and more about making you stronger. Let’s find out!

P.S. Dearest new mommy, according to kidshealth.org, 40% of newborns are colicky babies. So guess what? You’re not alone. All that baby crying will stop. That’s wonderful news!  Reach out to another mommy to talk to about it because odds are she’s managing the stress too. Now, not only are you humble enough to seek comfort, you’re also a leader. You rock!

1. Utilize your options.

Are you a mommy or daddy that reads books on parenting pre-pregnancy? If so, what does it have to say on this issue?  Chances are it is addressed. Good sleepers are not born ready to conform to your schedule. So, you may need to help that beautiful child along. You can follow advice offered in the book, or you can call a friend for advice. If you talk with your mom regularly, she might be a great place to start.

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2. Recognize that this is just a parenting milestone.

Are you a single, working mommy? Oh, my heart aches for you, and at the same time you are just as much the miracle your child is. This crying stuff may be nothing to you, but I suspect it’s driving you crazy even though you’ve already been through a lot. This may be that first parenting milestone that you have to overcome.

3. Walk and rock.

Turn on some music, put your earbuds in, and find some soothing music. Now, pick up those baby blues or caramel browns and slowly walk or rock your baby to sleep.

4. Find some swings or go for a drive.

I always enjoyed swinging as a baby and even still today. It is a resting exercise. Maybe it’s the rhythm to it or maybe it throws your equilibrium off enough to make you sleep? I couldn’t find any research about the why, but it seems to help babies fall asleep. Also, going for a drive with your baby may help. I’ve heard stories from friends that said this was the only way they could get their children to go to sleep early on. So, hopefully a short drive will help you—just be sure to buckle up!

5. Focus on the positive. :)

According to kidshealth.org, “Colicky babies have a healthy sucking reflex and a good appetite and are otherwise healthy and growing well.” Also, “Colicky babies may spit up from time to time just as non-colicky babies do.”  Finally, “colicky babies typically have normal stools (poop). If your baby has diarrhea or blood in the stool, call your doctor.”

6. Use more music therapy.

Sometimes, turning on some music will help your baby sleep. Some children need extra stimulation. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them; remember, you are just trying to get past this parenting milestone.

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7. Consult a professional dietitian or nutritionist.

Mommy, if you’re like me you want to know if there is anything you can do personally to make things easier.  Research shows that diet may play a role in this.  If you breastfeed, consult a dietitian. They know more about nutrition than your doctor.  Tis true!

8. Make sure you’re not forgetting anything.

According to emedicine.medscape, an inexperienced parent may forget to burp your baby enough. It seems simple enough, but with the amount of new crazy going on in your life, perfect peace isn’t going to happen overnight.

9. Check the baby’s hair.

What if something else is wrong? Check to make sure there isn’t hair in your child’s eye or eyes.  It could be your hair or their own.

10. Take a break.

Do you have a friend? Ask them to take babysit for a couple hours. Does grandma or grandpa live nearby?  This is a great chance to patch up that relationship if necessary, and if that’s not necessary, your family will see and be empathetic to what you are going through. They will be supportive.

11. Pray.

I know. I know. Maybe this is your last resort, but whoever you pray to, ask for some grace and mercy and for some love and some hope.  Hold onto grace.

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12. Address your introversion.

There are tons of articles on lifehack.org about how bright introverts are. It’s true—we are. It’s important, however, for us to work our way out of our comfort zone. The same goes for you extroverts. You can help guide us in the right direction. Find a parental support group. They can be found in your community. Call around. There are mommies’ mornings out and other programs that will help you with your mental stability. If you work, that may be your sanctuary.  Don’t feel bad about working; you’re getting the job done. Keep at it!

13. Ask your partner for help.

If you’re raising your child with a partner, kudos. Make sure to ask your partner to step up and help out.

14. Work together.

Parents, it’s time for you two to realize you are a team and that your world has radically changed. Chances are, you’ve already realized that, but maybe this is happening so that you can put that teamwork into action.

15. Remember that this is only temporary.

Babies crying like this will end with patience, but it’s got to be overwhelming when all your emotions are in a state of flux.  You probably just want to walk out the door. That’s not an option in this case. Maybe seeing a counselor makes sense?

16. Try turning out the lights.

Going back to kidshealth.org, “some babies need decreased stimulation. Babies 2 months and younger may do well swaddled in a darkened room.”

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17. Adjust your diet.

You know the cliche “you are what you eat.”  Well, your baby is profoundly affected by what you eat. If you are breastfeeding and if you are using supplements with your baby, you may need to alter the program. Cut out dairy and/or soy.

18. Be patient—it’s probably just a phase.

For some kids, this is simply a phase of growth. It may help to generate more structure in his or her life.

19. Don’t blame yourself or your child.

Don’t forget: it’s not your fault and it’s not your baby’s fault. It just is. You are so loved, and the support you need is out there.

20. Research the issue.

Here’s another great resource: www.parenting.com Also, here’s a great slideshow: www.webmd.com

Whatever you do, take some form of action. Most importantly, however: make sure your mental health is in good condition. If you’re not in good health, how can you expect your baby to be?

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Published on May 7, 2021

20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

From coaching martial arts to children as young as four years old, I very quickly came to the understanding that if I wanted to help kids progress their skills, I needed to find a way to help them focus more consistently in my class.

There are two key ways I found when it came to improving my students’ level of focus:

  1. Make what we’re doing more interesting. Nothing is off the table here—from having ninja clowns on the rampage in a lesson to including popular games with a martial arts theme, tapping into the student’s love of fun to help them focus.
  2. Introduce brain breaks.

Brain breaks are small mental breaks that help the kids stay more focused. Think of the brain as a fuel gauge that shows the information you can consciously hold in your mind at any given moment. When the kids are focused and working hard on their tasks, the meter is usually full. They can easily concentrate and pass experiences into their long-term memory.

But when the needle starts to drop, you may observe that your kids are feeling anxious or looking restless. New information, experiences, and knowledge are not getting processed from the staging area or working memory into the long-term memory.[1]

It’s here that brain breaks make the most difference, as they allow us to “top-up the tank” or reset the gauge so that we can continue to learn and focus and at a higher level.

If you’ve been home tutoring, you’ll appreciate that brain breaks can help kids in many ways. They can reduce stress and frustration. Think of those times when you’re helping your kids solve a difficult problem. It’s taxing for you both and when compounded with the energy loss after a day at school or watching TV. The stress effect can be compounded, and it’s here that brain breaks can be a lifesaver.[2]

The following is a selection of brain break ideas for kids. You’ll see that some are physical activities while others are more relaxing. It’s always great to test them out to see which ones connect the best with your children.

It’s okay to repeat the same brain breaks. Having a clear name and mission to a break can help keep your child excited, knowing that they’ll have the opportunity to take part in a future round of the activity.

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Active Brain Breaks

Here are some active brain breaks for kids that you can try out.

1. Swapsies

Have the participants stand behind a chair. Call out a character trait, like “everyone with brown eyes.” You then swap places with someone else who has the same characteristic. If you have nothing that matches, you stay put!

Examples: “Everyone with trainers on.” “Everyone who is left-handed.” “Everyone who is wearing yellow.”

2. Dance Party

Put five or six different types of songs on Spotify, including a classic like “baby shark or the hamster dance.” Dim the lights if possible and have the kids dance to the tunes. Then, change the tunes and change the dance style. It’s silly and fun.

3. Freeze Dance

Similar to Dance Party except that when the music stops, students have to stay perfectly still until the music restarts. You can make this even more fun by trying to make the students smile. If they smile, they are out and have to sit down.

4. Keep It Up

Students must keep a balloon from touching the floor. You can add multiple balloons. You can make it more competitive by having different balloons of two different colors and split people into teams. Whoever keeps the balloons up the longest or the team with the most balloons in the air with a timer of 60 seconds wins.

5. Simon Says

This brain break for kids is an old favorite. You can also mix it up with martial arts moves, Fortnite dances, superhero moves, etc.

6. Animal Movement

Move like different animals. It’s fun for younger children. We use Flamingo where you stand on one leg, crawl like a bear, stand like a meerkat, run like a cheetah, and walk like a penguin.

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7. Find It Fast

“Find It Fast” is a scavenger hunt variation. Call an item out in the room and kids have to stand by it. For example, find a clock, find something with a face, find something smelly, find some money, find a phone, etc.

8. The Frog

Physical Challenges can be excellent fun. We have one in the martial arts class called “The Frog” where you squat like a frog, then lean forward so your head and feet are off the floor. These are all old yoga poses, so have a look through a booklet or website for some safe ideas. Other examples are grabbing your nose with your left hand and touching your knee with your right elbow.

9. Pizza Delivery Time

Give the students paper plates and tell them to hold the plates above their head on a flat hand. They then run around the room and try to keep the plate in their hand. You can make it more challenging by having other students try to knock others’ plates off. There’s usually a 3-star jump penalty if your plate touches the floor.

10. Limbo

We use martial arts belts and the students take turns going underneath the belts. Fun music creates an awesome atmosphere here.

11. Human Knot

Split the group of people and have everyone link hands under and over. That’s making knots between everyone in the group. Have the other students try to untangle them and return everyone back into a circle.

12. Feather Balance

This brain break for kids works well with gentle music, and you can use a balloon or a straw if you don’t have a feather handy.

13. Stack them high

The students should have plastic cups and paper squares. The goal is to make a tower as high as possible, or it could be to make a triangle or even a pyramid.

Relaxing Brain Breaks

We talked about brain breaks for kids that are being used to energize the students. But they can also be used to calm and relax them. We’re more familiar with the term mindfulness, but it’s the same idea. These are brain breaks for kids that reduce stress and anxiety.

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14. Meditation

Meditation

is a popular way to reduce anxiety. There are lots of great examples already pre-recorded on YouTube that you can follow along with. Below is a useful classroom meditation example.

15. Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscopes are fun ways to relax. They are mesmerizing and like a peaceful vortex that sucks you into them. Below is a great example of a visual online one you can use.

16. Reading/Listening to a Story

When I surveyed the members of our martial arts club about how their kids employ brain breaks at home, there was a clear winner among the families—listening to a story or reading a story. The feedback was that the process of daydreaming a little helps the kids to recharge. But it goes without saying that the story needs to be engaging.

17. Doodling

My personal favorite way to brain break as a kid was to doodle. Doodling gives your child a few minutes to draw anything they want. It can be calming for them, and it’s a lot more fun if you have different types of pens or crayons available to use. Add some soft music, and you have a simple way to take some time to relax.

18. Coloring Sheets

Coloring sheets are another way to relax the mind. There’s lots of great coloring in pads available, but here are some links to public resources shared on the internet that are great examples.

19. Deep Breathing

Deep breathing

is an epic way to help your child slow down. It is a quick way to relieve anxiety so that they feel more ready for the next task ahead.

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Try this: put your hands on your tummy, breathe in through the nose, and feel your belly expand like a balloon. Hold it here, then slowly breathe out through the mouth while feeling your stomach get smaller. Repeat this 10 times. Use the following counts: breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and breath out for 4 seconds.

20. Going Outside

Go outside was the second most popular response from our parent’s survey about brain breaks for kids at home. Fresh air always feels nice. You can combine this with a treasure hunt, looking for different colored cars, types of birds, or even types of trees, if you’re familiar with these.

My personal favorite is using a mushroom spotting app on our phones and finding a mushroom or toadstool, then using the app to identify its name. This is surprisingly engaging for children. But a few safety rules about not touching them is important. It gives kids a change of scenery and helps revitalize the senses, providing a welcome break from their homework.

How Often Should You Introduce Brain Breaks?

The key to brain breaks is their timing. If you can introduce them before you notice that your kids are entering deep fatigue or their loss of focus has set in. You’ll find a great balance between breaks and effort.

I’ve observed from my martial arts coaching that younger students have a smaller amount of working memory than older kids. My formula is for five minutes of technical training, we provide five minutes of brain breaks for students under seven years old. Plus, we coach to 15 minutes of training to five minutes of brain breaks for children under 12 years.

Final Thoughts

Implementing calming brain breaks for kids is a really efficient way of introducing brain breaks. You have a quick way to allow your students to learn about regulating themselves. Balancing their mind and energy is a useful skill, and you can take this with you everywhere you go.

Our martial arts center revolutionized our approach to coaching by using brain breaks for kids. We found that although we were teaching less technical skills, there was now consistent progress from the students. Plus, everyone was less anxious, happier, and are having more fun. This is a win overall.

If you’ve been having challenges with your kids focusing at home, maybe try a mixture of the calming and active breaks to see which types work best for your kids.

Featured photo credit: Robert Collins via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] SimplyPsychology: Working Memory Model
[2] BrainFacts.org: Kids Need Brain Breaks — And So Do Adults

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