The Fussy Baby Site

Colic Diaries: A Real Mom’s Story

Sleeping newborn

*This post was originally published on the Colief Infant Drops blog. This is a sponsored post, meaning I have been compensated for writing it. However, the experiences and opinions below are 100% my own. 

Colic is one of those things you can’t possibly understand unless you’ve experienced it.

While colic symptoms usually subside around 4 months of age, the impact it can have on the parents and family can last much longer.

I remember when my daughter had mild colic (if there is such a thing as “mild” colic). I would mention our predicament to my parents’ friends, and they would recount their own tales of dealing with colic…sometimes 20 or even 30 years earlier. The crying, the screaming, the sleeplessness, the difficulties with feeding…these aren’t things that are easily forgotten.

When we first experienced colic almost 12 years ago, I remember crying into the phone one day, telling my mom that I didn’t think I could handle it. Her response?

You will handle it because this is your child.”

While maybe not the most compassionate reply, it has always stuck with me.

When my second child was born, we experienced colic on a whole different scale. The crying and screaming were relentless, he slept in 45-minute increments, and he alternated between desperation and refusal when it came to feeding.

This was supposed to be my “easy” baby! This definitely wasn’t what I signed up for.

But my mom’s words came back to me, and I reminded myself that I was my son’s only support and advocate. We plodded through those first months, living in survival mode.

We went to various doctors, tried many soothing strategies and put him on medication for reflux. I also cut all dairy out of my diet, in case we were dealing with an allergy or sensitivity. Fortunately, as time went by, Sammy’s colic subsided. But getting through those first few months required much patience and fortitude.

Like many of you, we explored every possible cause for Sammy’s colic. We needed to know we had done everything possible to help him. Unfortunately, it’s not always so easy to nail down a cause.

But while we still don’t know exactly what causes colic, there are medical conditions that can mimic the symptoms of colic, see your doctor. If you’re wondering which possibilities to explore, keep reading!

Possible physical causes of colic-associated crying

Current research tells us that all babies, in all cultures, experience the same crying curve: crying and/or fussiness increasing around 2-3 weeks of age, peaking at 6 weeks, and generally ending between 3-4 months.

What the research doesn’t tell us is exactly why our little ones are crying. Following are four possibilities you can investigate while in the throes of colic.

Reflux (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)

Almost all newborns spit up to some degree. However, if your child spits up frequently and appears uncomfortable during and after a feeding, it’s important to talk with your doctor about your concerns.

He or she may recommend elevating the head of the crib, holding baby upright after a feeding or giving a mild reflux medicine to alleviate your baby’s discomfort.

Temporary lactose intolerance (TLI)

Even healthy infants can sometimes have trouble digesting milk (breast or formula). Temporary lactose intolerance in infants is a temporary condition in which the infant’s digestive system has a hard time processing the lactose found in breast milk or formula.

This undigested lactose in milk can produce lactic acid and gas, which may be the cause of severe discomfort, bloating and colic-associated crying in your little one.

Before turning to major lifestyle changes, such as radically restricting mom’s own diet if breastfeeding, or switching to expensive infant formulas, Colief Infant Digestive Aid has been shown to reduce crying time in colicky infants by as much as 45% when colic is caused by TLI. It’s the only product that treats the milk before symptoms occur rather than treating the symptoms after. If your infant’s colic is related to TLI, you’ll know fairly fast – in a few days at the most, so it is worth a try.

Excess gas

Many colicky babies will appear to be gassy, pulling up their legs, balling their fists, and screaming inconsolably. However, in many cases, colicky babies are actually gassy because they’re crying: as they cry, they swallow more and more air, which then builds up and needs to be released. While this excess gas doesn’t cause colic, it sure doesn’t help the situation!

If bottle feeding, make sure you stir or swirl the bottle instead of shaking to avoid causing bubbles. Ensure the nipple hole isn’t too big, which could cause your baby to suck in more air. Many parents also find flexing their baby’s legs in a ‘bicycle’ movement helps to relieve trapped gas.

There is hope and help for colic…

Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to find a fix for your infant’s colic. In those cases, it’s especially important to focus on getting support for yourself.

If you’re in the middle of colic, it may feel like things will never get better. The days (and nights!) can seem endless, and waiting even a few more weeks for relief can feel overwhelming.

Some ways to ensure you get through this time in one piece include:

  • Find other parents who know what you’re going through. Look for in-person and online colic support groups where you can ask questions, vent and get support. Sometimes just knowing you’re not alone can be a huge help.
  • Take breaks. If there was ever a time to call in the troops, it’s now! Ask friends or family members to step in, even if only for an hour at a time. This may be all you need to feel like you can tackle life again (at least for a little while!).
  • Go easy on yourself. It’s easy to blame yourself when you can’t stop your infant’s crying. As parents, we think we should know exactly what’s wrong with our kids (and how to fix it). Unfortunately, colic doesn’t always work this way! Remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can, and that your baby will be ok in time.

Hang in there. You’re not alone!

*If your baby’s crying persists or if you have any concerns regarding your baby’s health or wellbeing, you should seek professional medical advice without delay.


photo credit: Stella – Sleeping beauty via photopin (license)