5 Tips for Surviving Colic

These tips will not cure your child’s colic but they may help YOU get through it. I have listed them starting with what I feel is most important, however they are indeed all important. Some tips may seem
like common sense…perhaps you’ve already realized some of them yourself; however, if even one of these is new to you and helps you at
all, great!

1) Join a colic support group 

By the time I had my son Everett, a number of my friends had recently had babies (none of whom had colic). While these ladies were experiencing what appeared to be blissful newborn-dom, I was deep in
the trenches of colic. Now, I love my friends dearly, but if you’re anything like me, the last thing you want to hear about is how someone else’s baby is constantly napping or just slept through the night for the first time. My baby was screeming and seemed to never be sleeping!

I did not want to burden my friends in their time of overwhelming joy, or for them to feel guilty about sharing their own experience with me, but I had to talk to someone.

This is where colic support groups play a huge role! There are colic support groups that meet in the ‘real world,’ but I found the online support groups to be more accessible (“thank you, Facebook”). Someone was always there to unite in cyberspace solidarity at any hour of the day or night while I was bouncing, shushing, nursing or rocking. I ended up meeting a mom who lived nearby, and she turned out to be a great source of strength for me. We texted each other at all hours of the night, even outside the Facebook group and have talked about
meeting in person someday. I was able to share some of my most vulnerable thoughts and feelings with her and she did the same. The support group was my saving grace!

One important disclaimer, as you may already be aware, is that a lot of misinformation gets circulated in mommy groups. Take any advice you
get with a large grain of salt, but the camaraderie is truly priceless.

2) Ask for help

Don’t be like I was at first and feel as though you need to carry this burden alone. Call on family and friends for help. If you’re lucky enough to have
family nearby, ask them to come over for a bit and watch the baby so you can nap or shower. You may worry that it’s too much to ask anyone else to be subjected to the torture that is your baby, but they will probably be happy to help in any way they can. Being with a colicky baby for an hour or two is a far cry (forgive the pun) from what you’ve been dealing with every single day. Honestly, they will manage
just fine with your little one. Just leave plenty of pumped milk or formula and enjoy a bath, shower or nap.

There were numerous times my mom came to my aid and I am so thankful. If you feel guilty leaving your crying baby in the hands of someone
else, that’s okay, I definitely did. Just remember that it’s okay to take a break for yourself…you need it! If you are able to take a nap, you’ll be much better equipped to handle the next several hours
of crying. If you do not have family or friends living nearby, consider whether or not it is in the budget to pay for some help. Perhaps a retired neighbor, or a responsible college student would be interested in making some extra money. It is only in hindsight that I learned that several of my neighbors would have been willing to help me, if only I’d asked.

A friend of mine had a colicky baby and hired a night nurse twice per week to ensure that every few days she and her husband would get an
actual night’s sleep. This was not in the budget for us at the time but if we ever have a colicky child in the future – we are finding room in the budget. It is a relatively short period of time that colic lasts (usually 3-4 months, but longer in some cases) and keeping one’s sanity is worth any extra money spent during that period of time.

3) Have built in breaks throughout your day:

My husband is a full-time physician and works very long hours, sometimes overnight or 24 hour shifts. We eventually worked out that he would take the baby for an hour when he got home so I could shower and have a bit of time to myself. If he was working an overnight call shift, usually I’d ask my mom to come help me for a bit in the morning.
I recommend establishing at least one break during the day…even more if you can. It is nice to have something to look forward to in the midst of this difficult time.

4) Focus on the future

Honestly, my husband was better at this than I was. He’s generally a very optimistic person while I tend to wallow. Not knowing when colic would end drove me crazy. Sometimes the idea of even one more hour of crying felt unbearable, never mind the prospect that it might last for several more months.

Deciding to schedule a future event to celebrate the end of colic will help you remember that this is only temporary and better days are

We chose to have a nice family photo shoot, and our photographer was very flexible with dates, given our circumstances. We also booked a weekend family getaway. Although this did require
rescheduling, since we were still in the midst of colic, we were able to go at around 4.5 months and had a great time.

My husband and I also booked a trip to Mexico, just the two of us. Some time together without the baby was wonderful.

Be sure to keep your plans flexible, as anything can change.

5) Count your blessings

This was another hard one for me. It can be difficult to see beyond your own misery during colic, but try to remind yourself that this is temporary and you have a healthy, beautiful baby waiting for you on
the other side of colic.

Around the same time that I delivered my son, a colleague lost his child to a congenital illness after a very long stay in the NICU. That type of loss is incomprehensible to me.

Your baby is truly a blessing…yes, a crying, colicky blessing right now, but a blessing nonetheless.

Bonus tip (take it or leave it)Accept that it’s colic

This is much easier said than done, but it helped me tremendously. One day when I was talking with a friend whose baby also had colic, I told her that Everett had a milk protein allergy. If you’ve read my other post about colic, you know he doesn’t actually have a milk protein allergy but I was sure I had cracked the colic code. I lamented about
giving up my beloved cheese and half & half. First colicky baby and now no cheese? WHAT IS LIFE?

She said, “you need to accept that this is colic.” She was right. By this point, Everett was nearly 11 weeks old. We had tried EVERYTHING. When/if he ever took a nap, I was researching causes of colic
tirelessly. If this is you, consider whether or not you’re willing to accept that your baby has colic. If you’re not, that’s okay, but if you are –allow yourself the freedom to let it be.

Consider whether a nap or shower for you might be a better use of your precious time than more
internet research. I truly believe in physicians and medicine but I can now relate with the desperation parents feel to have answers.

Sometimes in medicine there isn’t an answer because we just don’t know YET.

As a physician assistant, this has changed my perspective greatly and as a mom, I understand what you’re going through.

If you’re able to accept that it’s just colic and it WILL pass – you might feel a little weight lifted from your shoulders…I did.

I hope these tips help. Hang in there. Better days are coming!

Top 8 Essentials for the Colicky Newborn

When I was pregnant with Everett, I researched a ton of products and read lots of must-have lists but one thing I never considered was the possibility of having a colicky baby.

Having experienced colic for a solid 4 months, I feel confident in providing my own “top list.” These 8 products were critical in helping our son get through his first 4 months of life.

While every baby is unique, perhaps some or all of these items will help you and your baby, too.

None of these items “cured” his colic but I did notice a reduction in duration of crying if I used them consistently.

  1. Breast or Bottle

Everett was exclusively breastfed until 9 weeks of age when his weight dropped from the 44th percentile to the 3rd. At that point, he was breast- and bottle-fed. With the help of an outstanding lactation consultant and the use of domperidone – I was able to continue breastfeeding (I’ll share that experience in a separate post).

Our son would not take to a pacifier but he did find comfort in nursing and did so constantly.

If he was not breastfeeding, he would typically be crying.

If your baby is soothed by a pacifier, I would not hesitate to use one! We tried the MAM pacifier and the WubbaNub but he rejected both – so we stuck with comfort nursing.

2. Blackout cellular shades 

(use sheets if you have to, anything to make the room DARK)

Mid-day nap. Very dark room courtesy of the blackout shades.

I found that keeping Everett in a dark room most of the day helped to minimize his crying time.

One of the theories about colic is that the central nervous system is immature. When a baby is born, he/she is taken from its comfortable womb – a place that is very loud, warm and dark in exchange for a cold, bright and relatively quiet space. It is hypothesized that the new environment is too stimulating for the immature nervous system to process. The baby is not yet capable of self soothing – so he/she cries.

In an attempt to recreate the womb, we purchased blackout cellular shades and my husband installed them on all of our bedroom windows.

It doesn’t really matter what you choose to put over your windows. Just keep the environment as dark as possible!

Above the doors, we put black construction paper when he slept in our room. It was a very high-end touch.
This is a little sitting room in our bedroom – we also put construction paper on the arched part of the window above the shade (remember, as dark as possible).

3. Sound machine

Once your room is dark enough – it’s time to make it loud enough.

I can recall one night vividly when my husband and I played white noise on two laptops, an iPad and two cell phones. He finally fell asleep.

There are many to choose from and ours is one of the less expensive options. It is by a brand called Red Rooster.

If you need a REALLY loud sound machine, I HIGHLY recommend this one available on amazon.

Any will do but make sure it has a battery backup in the event of power outage. Trust me, you’ll appreciate this.

4. Swaddle

The Love To Dream Swaddle is THE swaddle for us.

I believe every baby should be swaddled as the boundaries of the swaddle are womb-like, making the baby feel more secure. Additionally, it can calm the startle reflex which can often wake a baby.

You may need to test out a few swaddles to find what works best for your baby.

We settled on the Love To Dream line of swaddles and LOVED them. Our son enjoyed chewing on his hands and keeping them close to his face, something other, more traditional swaddles didn’t allow. We used these until he outgrew all of their sizes (up to size large).

He now sleeps in a Zippadee-Zip sleeper! This is essentially the same concept as the Love To Dream swaddles, but provides more mobility. If you follow me on instagram you’ve seen me post about both!

5. Wireless headphones

Your headphones aren’t just for working out anymore!

Your baby is going to cry – and cry a lot.

Wireless headphones connected via bluetooth to your favorite Spotify playlist, podcast or audiobook provides a reprieve from the crying, while still allowing you to be present with your baby.

The “Peaceful Piano” playlist on Spotify is still among our favorites.

6. Yoga ball

When Everett was in his most inconsolable mood, bouncing on the yoga ball was my go-to. I’d either strap him into a wrap or carrier or just hold him in my lap and bounce.

My husband received this tip from a colleague who had a colicky baby years ago and the yoga ball worked quite well.

I also attribute my very rapid post-partum weight loss to this exercise. One perk of colic!

7. iPad with Netflix/Hulu

While you’re nursing/holding/rocking/bouncing your baby, you’re likely to get very bored. I found an iPad to be the most portable/lightweight option for entertaining myself.

8. Himalayan Salt Rock Lamp

When/if your baby DOES actually fall asleep at night, you’ll want to keep the sleeping conditions ideal. When it is time for your baby to wake up for a dream feed or his regularly scheduled diaper change/feed, it is best to keep the lighting minimal. I found that a salt rock lamp was the perfect solution. Placed on my bedside table, it was within easy reach to turn on, didn’t wake up my sleeping husband and provided just enough light to change his diaper and nurse him.

I hope these essentials help you and your baby.

What products helped your colicky baby?