Three weeks after their big arrival, your darling bundle of joy suddenly turns into a screaming goblin that won’t stop no matter what you do. And you’ve done everything, even the crazy old wives tales. Nothing is stopping the crying. Yours or the baby.
Everyone you talk to gives you advice and suggestions as if you haven’t tried even the most basic of soothing.
If this sounds like you, I am so so sorry. My darling girl was born perfect, she slept great and I even had to wake her to eat for the first two weeks. Then, during her fourth week of life, out of no where, the screaming started. Nothing was wrong according to the doctor. That’s when we really learned the “c word”, colic. We tried to explain to family and friends that there wasn’t anything wrong with our baby. Despite them telling us this couldn’t be normal 1 in 5 babies have it.
So what is colic?
No one is really sure what causes colic. In order to met the official definition of colic,a baby needs to cry for an average for three hours at a time, at least three times a week for no obvious need or medical reason. Doctors think its from feeling gassy or babies not being “ready” to be born. Some doctors believe that colicky babies don’t want to leave the warmth of the womb and they are telling you allllll about it. Regardless, nothing is wrong with the baby and they usually outgrow it around 4-6 months.
Dealing with colicky baby was hell. It made it hard to enjoy my daughter, my depression flared, it even made me question if I should’ve became a mother. I messed up my left shoulder from all the bouncing, I cried, I rocked and rocked and rocked, my lips cracked from so much Shhhhhh-ing. Nothing was what I imagined it would be like. I felt like it was some type of sick joke. Nine months of pregnancy and excitement, the pain of labor, three weeks of bliss, only to have it taken away by something that doctors couldn’t even explain to me. All on top of sleep deprivation.
The good news is, it ends. You think you’re going to listen to crying and screaming for the rest of your life, but it does stop. For some babies they slowly out grow it, others, like our daughter just stop suddenly. One night she didn’t scream until 12am but we didn’t dare comment on it less we jinx it. We’d have a few nights of crying for maybe an hour but not the soul shattering shrieks and purple face we had grown accustomed to.
Tips for parents
The most important thing I can share about dealing with a colicky baby is its not your fault. Its not your fault they are crying. Not your fault you can’t get them to sleep. Also not your fault you are getting angry and maybe even having some regrets of having a baby .(Yes, i did sit on my kitchen floor and sob a few times thinking that I ruined our lives). This does not make you a bad parent, it makes you a normal human dealing with the parental equivalent of torture.
No one outside of the house may understand and try giving you advice every single day. Just tell yourself it will pass and you are doing the best you can. NOTHING STOPS COLIC. There is not a magic trick that gets the crying to stop. A few things may make it more bearable, maybe stop the tears for a few minutes, but there isn’t a cure all thing that will change it.
Honestly, I think most techniques are more about making the parents feel like they are doing something. I know when I would rock and SHHHH her, I at least felt like I was trying to soothe her and that made me feel a little better. So on to what you can do for a colicky babe.
Tips for the baby
The Five S’s
The first thing the doctor taught us was the Five S’s by Doctor Harvey Karp
- Shhhhing: This helps replicate the noise of the womb. Helping them relax. I use Spotify to play my white noise or you can buy a machine just for white noise
- Swinging: This replicates the movement they’re use to from the womb. Swinging can come from your arms, a rocking chair, holding baby while you walk or an actual swing. My daughter still sleeps in a swing, her head is perfectly shaped so the doctor said she can stay in there as long as she is under the weight limit.
- Sucking: Babies find comfort in sucking. Pacifiers are amazing for colicky babies and may help reduce the chances of SIDS
- Swaddling: Babies are nice and snug in the womb, they also have the moto reflex ( the startle reflex) that can wake them and leave them very upset. Swaddling was so helpful with Samantha!
- Side position: For some reason this seems to help colicky babies, it didn’t really do anything for us but some people swear by it. Remember, back is the best and safest sleep position for babies who cannot roll from back to front AND front to back
My mother also bought me this oil diffuser with this calming oil. It really seemed to calm me down and her. Plus it makes the house smell wonderful, even with Samantha being past her colic I use Lavender oil and other soothing scents daily.For babies under 3 months, its suggested that you do not diffuse while they are in the room
Gripe Water (Please talk to your doctor first!)
My doctor suggested using Gripe Water, this is the brand that we asked her about specifically. Gripe water helps settle baby tummies and gas issues. We’ve even used it when she had really bad hiccups!
Please please talk with your child’s doctor before giving them anything. Homeopathic products are not always tested to the same standards that medications are and you want to make sure there isn’t something dangerous. Better safe than sorry.
You are doing a wonderful job
I hope that if you are struggling with a colicky baby this helps you. I wouldn’t wish colic on any family! So, take a deep breath, tell yourself that you are an AMAZING parent, snuggle that crying baby, and give yourself some grace and time away if needed. You’ve got this moms and dads!