How to Survive Colic- From a Mom Who Has Been There
If you’re reading this, then I have to believe you have a baby with colic. It’s awful, exhausting, and I would never wish it upon anyone.
When you found out you were pregnant, you probably dreamed of holding your baby, rocking them to sleep, laying them down, and enjoying a few hours of sleep yourself.
With a colicky baby, that’s just not how it works.
If this is your first baby, I want to tell you that not all babies are like this. Colic isn’t the norm. My second had colic and I will tell you that it nearly did me in. I went back to work after my first, spent a lot of time pumping, cleaning bottles, making bottles, grading papers and planning lessons (I was a teacher), but I still managed to get sleep. With my second, I was at home all day long, and I seriously didn’t sleep for more than 3-4 hours a day for about 5-6 months.
If you are experiencing a LOT of crying with your baby, it is best to have a conversation with your pediatrician. They can help you better understand and determine what is going on. If you do get a diagnosis of colic, then you’re probably trying to figure out how to get rid of colic. The long and short is you can’t just “get rid of it”. They will tell you some things you can try, but really, for the most part, it’s honestly a crap shoot. I wish I had better news than that, but I don’t. We tried and tried and tried for 5 months, without much luck. We managed to survive, and you will too!
I hope that I can encourage you and give you hope that things will get better. It can be a LONG and EXHAUSTING journey that may at times leaves you feeling hopeless. Trying to figure out how to survive colic is a task. ASK FOR HELP! I will share more about this later, but please, ASK FOR HELP! It doesn’t make you weak or shows that you’re incapable of caring for your baby on your own. It shows that you recognize that you can’t handle something on your own, and you’re asking for someone to help you out.
Let’s get started.
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What is colic in babies?
I think it’s best to understand what colic is before we dive into how to help fix it. Colic is typically related to a discomfort in baby’s belly. It is described as a baby crying for more than 3 hours a day, for more than 3 days a week, for more than 3 weeks. Think of it as the rule of 3’s. It is identified most commonly by a healthcare professional. But, if you have a friend who has a baby that has experiences colic, then they’ll likely be able to help you decide if you’re baby is experiencing colic.
It is intense, and it’s evident that the baby is uncomfortable and in pain. For baby’s who experience colic, it will usually begin any time after 2 weeks. If you’re wondering how long will colic last in babies, it usually ends by the time baby is 5-6 months old. There are cases where colic lasts for more than 6 months.
There is no definite answer about what causes colic in babies because really, colic is just a term used in the medical community to describe babies who just don’t seem happy. It’s evident something that is bothering them, but because they can’t talk, it really is a guessing game.
What are the symptoms of colic?
Baby’s with colic seems to never be consolable. They are fussy almost all the time. It may not be an all-out cry, but you can tell that baby just isn’t happy. You may change their diaper, feed them, give them a pacifier, rock them, pat them, and anything else you can think to try, and still baby will cry. Most often, there is a certain time of day that is worse. This is where the term “witching hour” came from. And, if you’ve experienced it, then you know how true the term is. A lot of babies will arch their backs, pull their legs up, and make their bodies be stiffer.
For us, there was most definitely a bad time of day. Our baby would start crying at 10 pm and would finally calm down a bit around 2 am. Without fail. Inconsolable for an entire 4 hours every single day. Now, let me tell you that colic symptoms happened randomly throughout the entire day, but without fail, we knew someone would have to be up with the baby from 10-2.
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How does it feel to have a baby with colic?
Having a baby with colic is without a doubt one of the most challenging things I have ever dealt with. It is mentally, emotionally, and physically DRAINING! There really are no words to describe just how terrible colic can be. The number of sleepless nights was countless. At the time, as I mentioned before, I had another baby to care for. I was exhausted, but I had two kids to take care of. Somehow, I managed to get through the days until my husband got home from work. I laid down every opportunity I got. Having a colicky baby at night is the worst!
I remember being emotionally drained. Feeling like you’re incapable of taking care of and helping your baby hurts. You’re the mom, you’re supposed to be able to make the baby stop crying. Everyone looks at you when the baby cries, and yet, you too can’t console the baby. It hurts. Thankfully, time will pass, and your baby will start to get better.
There were days and nights that I really started to understand and empathize with people who get to the point of shaking their baby. Now, don’t misunderstand me here, I will NEVER think it’s OK to shake a baby. But, I can understand how people get to the point of wanting to shake their baby. When you have something, that’s not a baby, that won’t stop making annoying sounds and won’t do what you want, chances are, you shake it. And that feeling can be felt when you have a baby with colic. You just want to shake them and say, “Why don’t you stop crying!!!” Hang in there. Put the baby down and walk away. Take a breath, cry for a minute, take a shower, take a walk around the house, anything. Your baby is clearly going to be crying anyway.
DON’T HURT YOUR BABY!
Tips for Colicky Babies!
There is light at the end of the colic tunnel. It will seem like the days of having a screaming, and inconsolable baby will never end. But it will. Here are some tips to help you survive the nastiness that is baby colic.
How to Survive Colic? Ask for Help!
Chances are, this isn’t the first tip you expected to read. You probably thought I would give you something to try with your baby, and I will share plenty of those. But, seriously the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby is to ask for help. If you are going to have to survive, yes survive is the right word, then you will NEED help. It may come in the form of someone bringing you dinner one night a week, helping you keep up with your house, babysitting your other kids, letting them come and watch the baby so you can sleep, etc. LET THEM HELP!
You need to be healthy to be able to care for your baby in a healthy way. An unhealthy mom makes for a bad situation. If you are a single parent and you don’t have a great support system, talk to your pediatrician ASAP about what options you have. They should be an advocate for helping you find help.
One of the first things we tried with our baby was chiropractic care. I have a chiropractor I see on a regular basis, and I was totally comfortable letting him adjust our baby. It wasn’t the snap, crackle, pop type action you may be thinking of. There was a tool he used to help put our baby back in alignment. We did a couple of visits there and things for better for about 3 weeks. Unfortunately, it came back, and continued chiropractic care didn’t work for us. I would recommend that you do your research, find a professional you’re comfortable with and know the risks before you decide to try chiropractic care. I am not a medical professional, just a mom sharing our colic experience.
The second thing we tried was gas drops. Simethicone drops (aka gas drops) work by entering into the belly and getting rid of any gas bubbles. It is given to a baby using a syringe and is placed directly into the mouth. I will say that there was a significant difference in our baby when we started giving gas drops with each feeding. I was nursing, and so I would give the baby drops before I would feed, and it seemed to help. Now, it wouldn’t make it go away completely, but there was a noticeable difference. Our pediatrician gave us a prescription, but there wasn’t much of a difference in cost between the prescription and what we were able to purchase over the counter.
Gripe water is a compilation of ingredients that are designed to help soothe and calm a baby’s belly. It is given by syringe straight into the baby’s mouth. We used Wellement’s Organic Gripe Water, but you can make your own at home as well. The dosage for young babies is rather small, so a little bit will go a long way. AS with anything, you should always speak with your pediatrician and make sure you have their approval to administer gripe water.
When we tried gripe water for colic, we noticed a bit of a difference as far as comfort is concerned, but not enough to keep buying it and giving it. There wasn’t enough progress that I felt like it was worth trying to remember to give, amid the lack of sleep.
I will say this; every baby is different. Simple because it doesn’t work for one baby doesn’t mean it won’t work for another. Even within the same family, one baby can have one reaction and the other can be totally different.
I looked up and tried a whole variety of different types of infant massage. I tried it without essential oils, and I tried it with essential oils. After a nice warm bath, I would do the massage, and it seemed to help make our baby happy while I was doing the massage, but as soon as I stopped, the fussiness kicked back in. Obviously, I couldn’t sit there all day and give our baby a massage, so this was a bust for us, with the exception of the temporary relief.
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I have mentioned before, and I will say it again, I am NOT a medical professional and anything you decide to try should be discussed with your pediatrician. I am just another mom who has been there and wants to offer any help I can. With that said, I want to share my experience with essential oils. I started using EO’s before I even found out I was pregnant with our first. I used them all during my pregnancy and then I started using them with our baby.
If you’re going to use essential oils on your baby, I would highly recommend that you use a guide. Essential oils should never be given orally to a baby, only applied topically to the skin. I LOVE Gentle Babies, written by Debra Raybern. She shares some great advice, as well as advice from other moms who have successfully helped their babies and kids be well with the use of essential oils.
One of the biggest thing about using essential oils at all, even more so if you’re using them on your baby is to make sure that you are using pure, quality essential oils. I only use Young Living because I am confident in the product. I recommend that you do your research and make sure you are comfortable and confident with what you are choosing to use.
Adjust Your Diet or Baby’s Formula
I was a nursing mom who was absolutely exhausted, frustrated, and heartbroken that I couldn’t make my baby better. And then, I was reading online about things to try, and I discovered changing your diet as a nursing mom in hopes of identifying a food that was bothering the baby. The first thing to cut out… all dairy. Now, I am a momma who loves her cheese, sour cream, and ice cream, but at this point I was desperate. Let me tell you, IT SUCKED!! There is dairy in almost everything! It really narrowed my diet down to about fruits, vegetables, meat, and some bread. It was a sad, sad day. But, I did it for 3 weeks. And when there wasn’t any kind of a noticeable difference for our baby, I slowly put dairy back in.
My best advice if you’re a nursing mom is to give it a try. I also know that wheat and gluten are two other things you can try to cut out of your diet and see if that helps.
If you are formula feeding your baby, try a different formula. Nutramigen formula is one that is very popular for baby’s who have tummy troubles. I would give it a go and see if that helps at all.
Babo-what? Yeah, that was my reaction too. A Babocush is basically a small baby mattress that you strap your baby on to and it vibrates and makes a heartbeat sound. You can elevate the head of the Babocush so that it essentially helps a baby to digest the gas bubbles in their belly, and if the baby has reflux it will help lessen it. The best sleeping position for a colicky baby is to elevate the head slightly more than the rest of the body, and this allows you to do that safely.
We have a friend who had a Babocush so we gave it a try. It was absolutely crazy because our baby went to sleep really quickly. We thought we had finally found something that was going to work. Foolish us. Much like the other things I have mentioned, it worked for about 3 or 4 days and then we were back to a fussy, nasty baby.
Seriously though, give this thing a whirl. Worst case scenario it doesn’t work for you and you sell it at a yard sale or a consignment shop.
Change Baby’s Environment
Ok, so what if your baby’s belly isn’t to blame? What if maybe the environment is the issue. In all of my reading I did, I read somewhere that a baby can get overstimulated, and because of this, they will cry. I figured I would give it a shot because I seriously had nothing to lose (except more sleep of course), and every to gain (i.e. sleep and sanity!).
We tried the dark, we tried the light. We tried silence, and we tried noise. My husband would go for a drive in the car and our baby would sleep like an angel until the car stopped, and once again the screaming ensued. TRY EVERYTHING! If it is as simple as changing your baby’s environment, seriously try it!
Use a Baby Carrier
One way I was able to get our baby to sleep was in the Ergobaby. I don’t know if it was the security of being right up again me, where the baby could hear my heartbeat and my scent, but it seemed to work. Of course, that was until I would take the baby out of the carrier and attempt to make it to the bed. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.
I also think part of the reason the carrier worked was because the baby was in an upright position. If it was indeed a belly issue, then being upright and tightly secured in something felt good and relieved that belly pain. Once I tried to lay the baby down, that relief was gone, and the pain came back, which in turn woke the baby up.
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I hope you are still reading because THIS is the one that finally worked the best for us, although we still had a baby with colic symptoms most of the time, just not as severe! BioGaia makes a probiotic drop for infants that was seriously a Godsend to us. They can be hard to find, but they are worth it. If you’re lucky, you can find them at your pharmacy, but if not, I am including a link to them on Amazon in this post.
BioGaia’s ProTectis Baby Probiotic Drops are super simple to give. They are given once a day and can easily be added to a bottle. If you’re breastfeeding, all you have to do is open your baby’s mouth right before a feeding drop the drops in and then feed the baby.
They are a little bit pricey, but if they work, then you know it’s worth your sanity and more than anything, it’s worth your baby feeling better.
The drops work naturally in your baby’s gut to help stabilize and establish a healthy belly. Simple things can throw off anyone’s gut and a baby’s gut is brand new and trying to figure itself out. By using the drops, you’re giving the belly a boost it needs to help strengthen itself.
We didn’t personally try Nat Phos 6x because I wasn’t completely sure about it. Hyland’s teething tablets got such a bad rap not that long ago, and so using this made me nervous. Nonetheless, I will share with you what it is. It is used to relieve the symptoms associated with hyperacidity, such as indigestion and gas. It is certainly one of the more natural ways to attempt to cure colic.
Acid Reflux Medication
I am an all-natural mom. I think God gave us what we need to make life work. However, I totally understand that there is a time to utilize modern medicine, and this is one of those. If your pediatrician recommends trying acid reflux medication, you may want to give it a go. For us, I read a lot about what the medication can do to your baby in the long run, and I just decided it wasn’t right for us. I read about regular reflux, as well as silent reflux in infants, and I just didn’t see the right symptoms. Knowing that giving this medication could have long-term effects on our baby, I decided against it. Maybe it would’ve worked, and maybe not, but the potential long-term effect it could’ve had on our baby was enough to make me pass this option.
It does get better. I know that is REALLY hard to see right now, but it does. If you have gone through my entire list of things to try and you are still at a loss, I can relate.
It is hard, exhausting, and there will be many days that it will bring you to tears. Try to remember that it isn’t your fault, and it certainly isn’t your baby’s fault. I promise, they feel just as awful as you do. All you can do is keep your head in the game, keep loving that precious baby who needs your love now more than ever and just keep going.
I will share that our colicky baby is now super happy, healthy, loves all food, and seriously enjoys life in a way I can’t explain. Thankfully colic is a phase and it will pass. Hang in there momma, you’ve got this!
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