The Colic Curse

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As I pushed my sleeping newborn in her stroller around our neighborhood, I heard a baby screaming its head off in a house we passed. I turned to my husband and remarked how grateful I was to not have a baby with colic.

I should have bitten my tongue.

Because my daughter did have colic, it just didn’t appear until she was three weeks old and then it lasted FOREVER (for us it was 6 months)!! Nothing prepares you for the never-ending crying to which there is no cure.  

Crying baby

Skyping with Dad, crying like always.

What is colic?

Colic is when a baby cries for more than three hours a day, three or more days a week, for three weeks or longer with no underlying cause. Three hours a day? Ha, try all day, every day.

The worst part of colic is that there is nothing as a parent you can do that seems to bring any relief. I remember sobbing uncontrollably with my baby one day because I couldn’t make her happy. Nothing I did made her happy. You feel like an absolute failure all the time.

To make this situation even better are the comments well-intentioned people make when learning your child is colicky;

  • “I think my baby was a little colicky too.”

What? You think your child was colicky. No, if you had a colicky child you would know. Having a baby that cries sometimes isn’t colic, that’s just having a normal baby.

  • “The witching hour is a hard time of day.”

Um, do you understand that when I say my baby cries all day it is not for a set amount of time? I don’t think non-stop crying from 5:30 – 11:30 pm every single night would be described as “the witching hour”.  

  • “If you are calm, your baby will be calm.”

Excuse me? You obviously don’t know me because I am the calmest person I know. Strangers have remarked on how calm I remain in stressful situations. So no, the baby isn’t feeding off my energy. It’s colic.

My favorite was;

  • “The first baby is always a little harder.”

I am not out of my league here. I taught child development for a number of years and I’m in my 30’s. Having a baby didn’t throw us for a loop. Having a baby that can’t ever calm down and be happy has been a little tough.

Why can’t I have a happy baby?

When you have a baby with extreme colic you become jealous of your friends with “normal” babies. Babies that just lay there on a playmat, content as can be. Babies that sit in a bouncy chair babbling at how fascinating their hands are. You don’t want to hear about how other babies are “a little cranky” from shots they had that day. Oh, your kid is a little cranky? My baby cries so hard sometimes she stops breathing.

Angry baby face.

“Grrr, I’m never happy.”

It was nice to know a handful of people who had actually had a colicky baby, our pediatrician being one of them. From these parents I learned that colic isn’t magically over at three months old like the websites and books make it seem. A friend said her baby remained fussy until her first birthday. Another acquaintance said her baby didn’t improve until they had their second child.  

The doctor’s advice – wait it out, colic doesn’t last forever. He was right, there is no magical cure. Many people (who never had colicky babies) tried to offer us solutions such as gripe water, peppermint essential oils, probiotics, chiropractor, etc. We tried a number to no avail because there is no cure. The 5 S’s don’t work on colicky babies, especially when your child refuses pacifiers and hates being swaddled.

Can anything help?

I only offer the following suggestions in case they might help another parent. These are the only things that helped our baby calm down slightly;

  1. Jiggle the baby
    Bouncing on the exercise ball put the baby to sleep.
    My husband and I would take turns with the baby pacing the room, going up and down stairs, and bouncing on the exercise ball every single night.  

  2. Go outside

    Thank goodness our baby’s colic was during the spring and summer. Going outside usually helped our child relax and take a breather, at least for a little while.

  3. Babywear

    The only way you are going to get anything done or go anywhere with your baby is to wear them. Colicky babies love the constant motion.

  4. Make noise

    White noise helped, in particular the vacuum and lawn mower. A co-worker of mine went through two vacuums with her colicky baby. I think my neighbors were ready to call Child Protective Services when they saw me mowing the lawn with my baby in the Ergo, but she loved it!  

  5. Feed the baby

For guaranteed moments of blessed silence stick a boob/bottle in the baby’s mouth.

In the end, it’s just colic.

I am so grateful to have been at an age to mentally and emotionally handle a baby with colic. I also can’t explain how having a husband to share the burden with saved my sanity. Had I been younger or single I can’t even imagine how those months would have gone. I am beyond blessed to have had such a healthy baby. I am well aware that colic is by far a tiny concern in the scope of problems a baby could have. But if you know of someone who has a baby with colic, please don’t underestimate the trials he/she is going through.

For those of you currently dealing with a colicky baby I wish you strength. Please know that your baby will get better. Most importantly, if you ever feel as if you are going to really lose it, put the baby in the crib, get out of the house, and take a breather. This too shall pass.

If you had a colicky baby, what helped to reduce the crying?

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