Colic is Super Common, and Super Exhausting, But Don’t Give Up
Have you ever looked into the eyes of a parent with a colicky baby? It’s like looking into deep pools of desperation and panic. Nothing brings you to your knees like a crying baby that you can’t seem to soothe.
Unfortunately, I speak from experience. We endured weeks of seemingly senseless crying from midnight – 5 AM. It felt like Horror Movie-meets-Groundhog Day.
No one can ever prepare you for a colicky baby, and once a baby starts this unexplainable crying, it can be weeks or months till either of you feel any relief.
So what on earth can you do while your baby has colic? How can you bring them any comfort? How can you maintain your sanity?
What is Colic and How Common Is It?
“There is not a standard definition of colic,” says Dr. Potter.
“We broadly define it as crying for no apparent reason that lasts for more than three hours per day and occurs on more than three days per week in an otherwise healthy infant.”
This is why it’s so agonizing. There is no explanation for our baby’s extreme crying, and no scientific way to make it stop.
And it affects a LOT of babies. Dr. Potter says that it’s estimated that nearly 40% of infants experience colic at some point. And this isn’t just run-of-the-mill crying. All babies cry, but most of the time, you calm them by rocking or feeding them. A colic baby just can’t stop crying.
What to do if Your Baby has Colic?
It’s extremely hard to keep it together when your baby has been crying for hours on end. Try these tips to help you get through:
1 – Take a Deep Breath, and Hand the Baby to Someone Else
You need a break from the crying. If there isn’t another caretaker nearby, you can lie the baby in a safe, secure place and step away.
“It’s okay to step away from your baby for a few minutes and come back if feeling overwhelmed,” encourages Dr. Potter.
You can’t take care of your baby if you’re not taking care of yourself. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by an inconsolable baby, and Dr. Potter warns that shaking a baby out of frustration is a very real danger.
Self care is a big key to keeping your cool when baby is on his second straight hour of sobbing.
2 – Call Your Pediatrician
After you’ve regained some calm, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician. They can rule out possible causes for the crying and give you peace of mind that your baby is not ill.
“Your pediatrician is a good source of information and can help determine the next steps to help you and baby after properly evaluating.
3 – Learn These Soothing Techniques
Now that we’ve addressed your mental health and ruled out underlying causes for baby’s crying, it’s time to look at soothing techniques.
Dr. Potter recommends these two resources for soothing a crying baby:
Driving around in the car worked for us at times, as well as walks in the stroller. Other times I had to put them in a baby carrier or dance around with them to loud music. The key for us was to keep trying something new until stuck for a little bit.
4 – Look Ahead – This Won’t Last Forever
Dr. Potter says that colic gets better usually by 3-4 months old. This can feel like eternity, but please know that it WILL get better.
It really helped me to frame my mind around an end date. I arbitrarily set it at five months old and told myself that I was in survival mode until then. No expectations of house cleaning or laundry or meals. Thankfully I was on maternity leave so work was out of the equation.
I basically told myself to get my baby and me to the five month mark. This helped me keep it together when we were on hour three of sobbing in the middle of the night. It still wasn’t easy, but we survived.
Will my Baby Remember Her Endless Crying?
This was one of my biggest concerns at 5 AM when my baby was sobbing and so was I. Was I a terrible mother? Will this scar them?
Dr. Potter says they’ll never remember it.
“Colicky crying is not harmful to the infant in the short- or long-term,” Dr. Potter shares. “Your baby will not remember this phase and hopefully for parents it will pass quickly too.”
It’s hard to believe that someone would forget something so agonizing. These memories are seared into my mind, but my 13 year old says she has zero memory of it.
Take heart, parents. You’re doing an amazing job!