Don’t lose hope when the doctor says ‘sorry, the only cure is time.’ There is some help for this mysterious baby condition and I will tell you all the things that did and didn’t work for me.
My heart sank into my chest as I stood in the pediatrician’s office for the 6th time in 2 weeks. My daughter Sarah had been crying inconsolably for days with no sign of relief. She must be sick. I was still recovering from childbirth and getting no rest. I was desperate. “Please help me. Look at her again. Make sure there is not something you missed. There must be something wrong. Babies don’t cry this much, do they? I can’t get her to stop for anything”
She was my first child and she was only 2 weeks old at the time. Before she was born, I had read the baby books, took the classes at the hospital and spoke with all my friends and family for advice but nothing prepared me for this. I could change a diaper with my eyes closed but colic added a whole new element to mommyhood that I couldn’t have prepared myself for.
“So you are telling me in this modern age there is NOTHING you can do?” I said. “No ma’am. You just have to wait and one day it will just go away. Usually around 3 months.” The doctor said. I could feel the chunks rising in my throat. This was only week 2 and I was about to lose my mind how can I survive 3 months of this or possibly more. I didn’t care what caused it; I just wanted it to stop.
As we left the pediatrician’s office empty handed once again, I decided I was going to keep searching for an answer. I mean how can we have found cures for thousands of diseases but colic in babies is still a medical mystery. I have always felt that if you want something to change you must actively work toward changing it. Sitting and waiting was not an option for me, it was torture. I had to help this sweet little girl. She was miserable and so was I.
So my search was on, I was all over the Internet reading every article and blog I could find about colic. Someone had to have discovered something that worked. And if I ever do figure it out, I could make millions. I know I would have paid money to have some answers at that point.
I get asked constantly, what do you think caused Sarah’s colic? I still to this day can’t tell you one specific thing that worked. I truly believe for my child it was a combination for techniques that created a calm kiddo. You can read a million articles about what might work but here is the down and dirty from a mom that tried it all.
Read ‘Happiest Baby On The Block” by Karp. It saved my life. Using the 5 S’s together or most importantly using white noise and swaddling were a winning combo for me. White noise can be a white noise machine, blow dryer or vacuum. Karp says that is what it sounds like in the womb. There were definitely times that I had to do all 5 at the same time to calm her down but those two techniques were the most valuable to me.
Mother’s anxiety was listed as one of the causes for colic in Karp’s book and I somewhat agree. I can’t say that her colic got better or worse with my anxiety but I can tell now that she can sense my moods and reacts to them. After weeks of misery, I went to a therapist for help. I worried I would never bond with my baby. He instructed me to let someone else watch the baby while me and my husband took a break. He emphasized how important getting sleep is to my health as well as being able to bond with my baby. He claimed sleep deprivation is how they torture people in other countries. I believe it. So that night I let my husband watch the baby. One of the best things I ever did. Not only did I feel better but I could handle Sarah’s crying a lot better.
Being a new mom is difficult without having a child with colic. My doctor put me on post partum medication a few weeks after delivery. If you or anyone you know is having a difficult time with post-partum feelings there is nothing to be scared or embarrassed about and there is medication you can take while you are nursing. You can take better care of your child, colic or not if you are well. There is no reason to suffer through this time. You want to enjoy as much as you can and sometimes meds can help.
The controversial book,’Babywise’ by Gary Ezzo, Dr. Robert Bucknam was very valuable to me. Since so many people think colic is caused by stomach problems I thought a routine might benefit Sarah, possibly helping her metabolize food better if we feed her at the same times everyday. I used the sample schedule from this book to get me started. I can’t say that eating on a schedule made a huge difference but it was great for me. I could plan better and be more organized. Since I felt I had no control with Sarah’s colic, creating a schedule gave me a little control and that helped me a lot. After weeks of dealing with an inconsolable crying baby I decided to let her cry it out as suggested in this book. It was either screaming in my arms or let her scream in her crib. I am so grateful that I did. Within 5 minutes she was napping and slept for 3 hours. I believe Sarah did not have the ability to self soothe. She still struggles with this now at 8 months. It is very difficult to do but it works and Sarah is a happier, healthier baby for it. As a reward for mommy and daddy, Sarah started sleeping through the night at 9 weeks. That’s right, my crazy, colicky, highly sensitive baby slept through the night at 9 weeks. I thank the Lord every night for this book and if you are struggling, read it!
Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy was considered our main problem by process of elimination. It was a tough process but it worked. I read online about how a baby could be allergic to her own mother’s milk. After much research and a discussion with the pediatrician on the phone, I found there were two different ways this can happen. One was if the baby was lactose intolerant which was very unlikely. Supposedly, there is 7% lactose in a nursing mother’s milk but it is extremely rare for a child to have that condition. The second option, which was the case for Sarah, was that she was allergic to cow’s milk protein. Until you look at the nutritional labels on everything you eat, you may on realize that most things contain cow’s milk. With advice from my doctor, we decided we were going to eliminate all dairy products from my diet. That meant, no milk, butter or cheese. After 5 days, we saw a huge difference.
Between the white noise, swaddling, a scheduled routine and elimination of dairy products in my diet, I finally got a calm baby. As much as I wanted to be able to calm her on my own with mommy’s touch it took an arsenal of techniques but I finally helped her and that was all that mattered.
There is much speculation about what causes and cures colic. Bottom line, no one knows what causes it and different techniques work for different kids. The ideas above are what I consider the most important solutions that worked for me. There were also a lot of things I tried that helped some and may help your little one.
- Gripe Water – Some parents swear by this product. It didn’t cure her colic but it always helped her bowels move. Be careful with what product of gripe water you purchase. I heard recently that it was unsafe to use gripe water manufactured overseas and it must be refrigerated.
- Car Rides – This was a temporary fix for Sarah but it did work. She was born in November so we would ride around and look at Christmas lights every night. It was my 30 minutes of quiet time a day. Some people put their babies in their car seat on top of the dryer while it is running. We tried it once and it didn’t work. I never felt great about putting her up there anyway.
- Probiotics – I had a lady in the grocery store tell me that she gave her son probiotics and it cures his colic right away. All I can say is ‘your son did not have colic like my daughter had it.’ I think there is a big difference in tummy trouble and colic. Probiotics can help tummy trouble but colic, in my opinion, is a dynamic of issues. Needless to say, it never helped Sarah.
- Gas Drops – This is the same situation as Probiotics. If gas drops help your child that is great but gas drops were like water to my little Sarah. Even the doctor said that it was unlikely to help her. I have friends that swear by them though. Every child is so different.
- Hot Water Bottle – My mother-in-law came in for a visit and brought her old school hot water bottle with her for Sarah’s tummy. It actually seemed to help her tummy and help her sleep for longer periods of time at night. She said it was suppose to make her feel more secure. The only problem is that with everything you introduce to your baby, just know you will have to remove it sometime. Sarah got dependent on the water bottle and we had some very rough nights getting her off of it. Overall, it helped but was only a temporary solution and not what I consider the main fix.
- Dr. Brown’s Bottles – The extra parts are a pain but this brand of bottle reduced her gas intake and made a big difference in the amount she burped. I have to imagine that it was a factor in her getting better.
When you are in the heart of this colic stage it seems like it will never end and speaking from a parent that lived the torture, it will. I know that never made me feel better to hear but it is the truth. It may take two months, it might take a year but evidently you will have a smiling, happy baby like everyone else. It is hard not to be resentful of women that can take their babies to the mall 2 weeks after giving birth. Sarah was 5 months before I could take her out in public. As jealous as I was, looking at these perfect, content two-week-old babies in the restaurants I realized they are probably have problems of their own that I can’t see from the outside. Everyone deals with some battle and colic just happened to be mine.