Our family will be welcoming baby #3 in the next month and we are all beyond excited (and ready) to finally meet our next little guy. Of course, just the thought of adding a newborn with an almost-four year old and an almost-two year old makes me exhausted, but my real fear concerns whether this baby, like my last, will have colic.
I remember the first two weeks of baby #2’s life well. He was calm, snuggly, and content. My husband and I were so grateful to have such an “easy” baby and cherished the ease of a second child compared to the unknown that accompanies the first. “Wow, this is easy. We’ve got this” my husband and I would joke. Our first son was born five full weeks early and while he was generally healthy, there were a few little hiccups in the beginning brought upon by his early arrival. But baby #2 was full-term. Was nursing like a champ. And otherwise seemed to just “go with the flow” like any parent welcoming an additional child would hope.
Then week two arrived and everything changed. The screaming began. And continued. And we all became concerned something was wrong. Nothing would work. He was either eating, sleeping or crying. Where did our content baby go? Was it something I was eating? Or drinking? It was maddening. The constant screaming and inability to console your newborn baby pushed me in ways I had never been pushed. And I cried. A lot. Why was he crying so much? Adjusting to a newborn baby with an almost two year was hard enough! Of course something MUST be wrong for him to be crying so much. Why wouldn’t my snuggles work? Why wouldn’t being fed work? After several calls and a few visits to the pediatrician in a desperate “attempt” to regain our content baby, we were told our baby had colic.
My response to this diagnosis was simple: how long will it last? I was told he would probably outgrow it by four to six months. Four to six months? There was no way I could make it that long! I was losing my mind. To be blunt those early days at home (alone) with both boys were torture. Trying to care for my almost two year old while listening to a screaming infant for hours on end that I simply couldn’t console was one of the most challenging things our family has endured. My husband nicely refers to this period of time in our parenting journey as a “rough patch” and that it was.
But we survived and of course lived to tell the tale. If you are experiencing a similar “rough patch” right now, below are a few ways that we found helped us as a family cope with our sons colic.
- Watch Your Diet (for you nursing momma’s): I read that certain foods or even beverages (such as caffeine) may bother your baby. I eliminated dairy from my diet to see if that helped my son’s symptoms. It didn’t but it is certainly worth a try to see if it provides your baby any relief. I gladly scaled back on my dairy consumption and gave up caffeine to try to help my baby and continued to do so until I felt like he outgrew the colic.
- Feed More Frequently: In my quest to figure out a “cure” for my son’s colic, I came across a tip to decrease the amount of time between feedings. Therefore, I reduced the time between feedings in an attempt to ease any discomfort that may have been caused by larger feedings.
- Baby Wear: If my baby wasn’t eating he could be found in my moby wrap those first few months. I wore him constantly and while he still continued to cry a bit, the constant moving around did provide some relief.
- Find a Calming Mechanism and Stick With It: One night, in desperation, I brought my son in his rock and play into the bathroom while I showered. I was hoping the sound from the vent and the water would help him fall asleep. And it worked! The bathroom vent (or vent on the microwave) became my saving grace. If he was particularly hysterical I would use the vents to calm him down.
- Try Probiotics: At one point during the four-six month stint with colic the doctor recommended we try probiotic drops. I can’t recall the exact brand we used but I believe they were some version of Gerber Probiotics. They weren’t the cheapest things but I was willing to try anything at that point and truly believed they did make a difference. For anyone experiencing colic in a newborn I would absolutely recommend discussing probiotics with your pediatrician.
- Find Time Away: This is important for all new parents but especially when you have a colicy baby. Having a constantly screaming child will push you in ways that you never knew possible. It was extremely helpful for me to tuck out here and there to have some time away from all of the crying. You seriously need it for your sanity.
- Locate Other Moms For Support: My neighbor and friend experience colic with her first daughter. Just sharing in that experience with her and discussing the tremendous emotional challenges that accompany it was extremely useful.
- Try a Pacifier: I did not use a pacifier with my first son simply because he showed no interest in one and I didn’t really have an interest in introducing one with baby #2 either until I was in full-fledge colic mode and was willing to try anything to calm him down. It took about two months of me giving him various brands of pacifiers to finally found one he liked but it helped tremendously with his ability to self-soothe.
- Spend Time Out of the House: I know it can be difficult but reflecting back on those challenging days I can truly say it was better when we were out doing things rather than staying in the house pacing around with a screaming child. You will be distracted, your other children (if any) will be distracted, and maybe even the baby will be better off moving around in the car or stroller. Now don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of times I had to leave places because of my screaming child, overall I think it is better to be out and about doing things rather than sitting home if you can help it.
Like any other experience in this crazy world of parenting, colic is a phase that will pass. By five months we had the happy, content baby we had longed for and we could finally put the hours of screaming behind us. While we can now joke about what a difficult time that was for all of us, I have genuine sympathy and admiration for parents that experience a colicy baby. It is a very challenging time but you will get through it! Hang strong and know there is light at the end of the tunnel! Cut your self some slack because you are doing an awesome job.
Did you experience a baby with colic? If so, do you have any additional tips to add? We would love to hear them.