Do you think you have a baby with colic? Did your doctor just scare you to death by telling you that your newborn is a colic baby? If your unsure or uneducated on the subject than you’ve come to the right place. Many new parents find themselves scared and unsure when their new baby is “diagnosed” as colic. This article was written to educate and guide you in this time of uncertainty. If you have a baby with colic you may already be at your wits end and the last thing you need is to stay up any longer at night looking for knowledge and answers. Trust me, I know. Well the good news is, I’ve already done it for you. The bad news is that that’s were the good news ends. There is nothing good about colic and there is no way to sugar coat it. Maybe I can help ease your mind with some knowledge and experience. Also there are some good tips and tricks to take out if this that will help you on this journey. Let me begin by explaining my experience first, and then we will take it from there.
When our son was born the nurse wheeled him out of the nursery and bragged about how he was the quietest baby in the room. Oh lucky us, so fortunate to get the quiet baby, or at least we thought. We had no idea why was in store for us.
On the second week of the little guys life our oh so quiet baby turned into a screaming crying sound barrier breaking monster! Not only was he screaming, but he was screaming for hours on end and it was happening more and more. We were baffled and confused. How could this be happening to us? He was so quiet when we got him. It didn’t take long before we brought him in to see the Dr. They told us to try switching his formula because the blue similac bottles they give you in the hospital tend to be a little tough on some newborns bellies.
Four days later we were back at the Dr again. The new formula had the same effect, but now he was spitting up often to go along with it. As you can guess they changed his formula again and told us to wait another four days to see how he’d react. This process continued until we were on our fifth formula. When you’re going through this every day seems like an eternity. I can’t even explain to you how frustrated and upset we were.
One day I was watching the baby while my wife was doing some shopping and I finally reached my boiling point. The baby had cried so severely for so long that I picked him up, put him in his carrier and drove straight to the pediatricians office. Upon entering the office I walked up to the front desk and put the carrier with our screaming baby right on the desk. When the girl asked what was wrong I simply said “this, this is what’s wrong” and pointed to the carrier. After being seen the Dr told me the baby was colic and needed some time to grow out of it. Colic, what was that? I had heard the word before but wasn’t quiet sure what it really was. And time, who had time to wait for the baby to grow out of it? We were already losing our minds and we were only parents for a measly few weeks!
Desperate for a better answer my wife and I decided to take it upon ourselves. We weren’t the first couple on earth to have a baby with colic so the answers had to be out there. We were going to do this the old fashion way. Research, trial and error. We literally purchased every book with the word colic on it. We read and read and read. I would stay up at night reading and highlighting while my wife quizzed her girlfriends and surfed the web. We also realized there was lots of filler and worthless books that wasted our time and energy. After that was said and done it was safe to say we had both become extremely educated on all things colic. Unfortunately we learned there was no real cure for colic but many ways to cope with it. Sorry to let you down but these are the facts. However after being properly educated on the matter we were better suited to deal with it. We had yet to approach the hands on part but we were ready. We are here to share our education with you so you wont have to waste the time that we did. Furthermore we did end up living through this from start to finish and were able to help our friends and family afterwards too. So without any further ado lets bring you up to speed on colic right here and now.
Studies show that forty percent of all babies are colic, wow! Beginning somewhere between the first two to three weeks of life colic or infantile colic is described as a condition in which a healthy baby cries often for long periods of time without any indication of a reason. A colic episode can last one to four hours! The crying is usually extra loud and is sometimes accompanied by clenched fists, a flushed face, distended stomach or flexed/pointed legs. You will notice the baby is much more difficult to calm during a colic episode. Lots of times the crying begins a short time after a feeding, but it can happen at anytime. Also, as in our case, a colicky baby usually has its worst time around the early evening. I remember joking about the sun going down and the baby turning into a werewolf! Now keep in mind, all babies cry, especially within the first eight weeks of life know as the “fussy” period. We are talking specifically about excessive long lasting crying that falls into this category. Don’t assume your baby is colic because they are crying and look uncomfortable. A good indicator is the number three. Crying that lasts for three hours at a time, three days a week, for over three weeks. Yeah that kind of crying! There is no real evidence as to what causes colic. Experts are still unclear in their studies since no actual health problems are present in these babies. The only good thing is that colic usually gets better on its own by twelve to sixteen weeks. Do the math and that puts you at three to four months. So if you can find any comfort in knowing that this is usually a timed event than do so, your going to need it. In our case things started getting better by the end of the second month and by the middle of the third everything was normal. Many new parents are somewhat confused about the symptoms of colic and attribute other symptoms to the colic itself. Keep in mind a colicky baby is an otherwise healthy baby and all other symptoms should be brought to your pediatricians attention. Diarrhea or blood in the infants stool are not symptoms associated with colic. Also, while it may be common for a baby with colic to spit up occasionally actual vomiting is not a symptom either. Please don’t be afraid to be in constant contact with the babies doctor if you are unsure about anything. This is a critical time in your baby’s development and the doctors are aware of that.
After the doctor declares that you have a baby with colic they will usually switch their formula, if they haven’t done so already before they came to this conclusion. They may change it several times until they find the right fit for your little one, so don’t go buying cases of the stuff until after the doctors trial period is over. I’ve seen that too many times and some of the formula can get very expensive. The last thing you want is to get stuck with a case of the stuff that ended up being no good after a week. Be patient when the new formula is introduced. Sometimes it seems like its working and on the fourth day everything falls apart. It takes the infant a little time to adjust to a new formula, so wait the correct length of time the Dr tells you to. Check with your medical insurance carrier as some of the more pricey “special” formulas are covered, but not all. Some babies with colic have or end up with some sort of reflux and the doctor may prescribe a prescription medicine or over the counter antacid. Another issue associated with colic is gas or air. Bottles like Dr browns brand have air control in them and can prove helpful. Sometimes these babies also drink too fast and trap lots of gas in their tummies. If your infant is lapping up the bottle at uncontrollable speeds and making loud gulping noises while feeding you’ll have to slow them down. Replace their nipple with a zero nipple or preemie nipple. The holes in these nipples are smaller and will slow the baby down as they cannot suck so much formula through so quickly. Some new formulas have a sandy or gritty texture added to them to slow the flow through the nipple and the settling in the baby’s stomach. These formulas would have to be prescribed by your pediatrician. On that note please DONT switch formulas unless instructed by your doctor. I’ve seen this done by parents desperate to help there babies with what they heard worked from another mother. Every baby’s digestive system is different and what might work for some might not work for others. Too many formula switches too quickly can irritate a little one digestive system. Breast fed babies are in the same boat. The only advice for breastfeeding moms is to make sure the baby finishes the starting breast before switching to the next breast. If they switch breasts before they are done with the first they may end up getting a low amount of fat allowing a lot of milk sugar to arrive to quickly in their bellies making them irritable or colicky.
With that being said here’s a good method for trying to sooth a baby having a colic spell. If the baby isn’t fed obviously feed them but take care not to overfeed them, its not extra food they’re looking for here. Make sure to burp them more often during the feeding as well, trapped air is never comfortable. Lots of people recommend vibrating shaking rocking seats, if this works for you then by all means go ahead. After my research and own experiences I am not a fan of that nor did it work too well for me. Gripe waters and colic cures are a waste of money. If someone invented a miracle cure our doctors would prescribe it like antibiotics for colic kids. If these products help ease your mind than go right ahead, but there is no proof that they work. They didn’t work for us either. What did work was a super swaddle session. The swaddle is a godsend if your baby likes being swaddled. Some parents report that their babies hate it, if that’s your case than skip it, but if not do it well and snug. Learn to be a master swaddler. A nice snug swaddle will simulate a womb like atmosphere for the baby. A gentle rocking/swaying motion repeated while they are swaddled nicely will add to the calming sensation as well. If the baby is taking a pacifier then by all means this is the time to give it to them. You can gently hold the pacifier in with your two fingers while you rock. Loud shushing noises made by you or a white noise machine will set the mood too. Lots of people claim that a ride in the car calms a colicky baby and I agree, it can provide temporary relief. Unfortunately we cant drive around all day, and if your baby is anything like mine red lights can be a duzy!
As far as literature is concerned there aren’t too many helpful books on this matter.You will mostly find money suckers who claim to cure your baby. These creeps are just feeding on desperate parents who would pay anything for some help, so don’t support them like we did. The only useful book on colic after sifting through so many was The Happiest Baby On The Block by Harvey Karp MD. We highly recommend his book. So try it and good luck to you!
Whatever happens make sure not to stress yourself to deeply about this issue. If you feel like your going to lose it, call a friend or relative and see if they can give you a hand or a break for a little bit to compose yourself. In the end your health is just as important as theirs, and during this tough time your baby needs you healthy. Always remember, this too shall pass, you are not alone.