Surviving Colic: What to do When Your Baby Won’t Stop Crying

August 17, 2017


“Colic is a frustrating condition marked by predictable periods of significant distress in an otherwise well-fed, healthy baby.” – Mayo Clinic

This is not a usual topic for Plate Half Full RD and this is quite a personal and raw thing for me to talk about on something so public as the blog. I was recently discussing the trials of being pregnant and a new mother (with a mother-to-be). I remembered how many hours I spent searching the internet for some solution to make our lives easier.  There had to be something, some sort of miracle that would offer some relief from our endless screaming days and nights. This is not a “woe is us” post looking for sympathy or praise for having a rough start to parenthood. This is for any new mom or dad trying to get through the day, the hour, the next minute thinking that nothing you do will help. You are not alone and there are better days ahead, I promise.

You can gain a lot of perspective when you are in a good place looking back into a louder, crankier, red-eyed time. Our baby girl is now crawling around, babbling away, playing by herself, smiling, laughing, and overall just being a serious delight to be around. If you would have told me this day would be here 8-10 months ago I would have cried and kicked you out of my house for being so mean. Yah, I was a little hormonal.. 

The eat, sleep repeat routine was going relatively well for the first two weeks home with our little girl. About every two hours she would eat then drift back to sleep with only minimal fussing. After two weeks something seemed to change. She was fussing when eating, she would buck off my breast, wiggle in discomfort when eating, cry after eating, and need to be rocked and swayed to sleep. I kept thinking it was something that I was eating. Something in my diet was making her little tummy hurt. I stopped eating chocolate, broccoli, lettuce- really any raw veggie-, dairy, spicy foods, coffee.. basically any and everything that made up my diet. .I couldn’t even tell you now what I was actually eating at that point. Nothing made a difference. Long story short (another time maybe), we switched to formula and tried what seemed like a dozen kinds to help alleviate her obvious discomfort.

When I say obvious discomfort, I mean literal screaming from the time she would wake up (pause to eat her bottle– ahhhh moments of silence) to the moment she fell back asleep 2 hours later. We had the bounce and sway perfected to tone the screaming down, but it ultimately did not matter if we sashayed around the house for the whole two hours or sat her in her rocker- she screamed.

I offer no magic solution to the colic conundrum, but some ways to help you stay sane during one of the most trying periods for us lucky parents.

Accept Help

I had this irrational fear that could only be in a hormonal postpartum mind that if other people had to be around her, they wouldn’t love her. Seriously, I turned down all sorts of help from family, friends, even my husband because I could not bear the thought that they would watch her and feel some sort of negativity towards my child. No one ever indicated that this would happen or acted like they felt any dislike towards her, but something in my over-protective, new momma bear mind made me feel that I had to take that responsibility on myself. I want to shake that version of myself and tell her to just accept the help that loved ones were willing to give. They obviously loved her then and love her now and no amount of crying or screaming could change that. Take up those offers to watch the baby for an hour so you can nap, get groceries, or just go sit outside in the silence.

Don’t Stop Living Life

I was invited to go do things often when I was on maternity leave. I almost always turned these invitations down. Just the thought of packing myself and the baby up,  listening to screaming in an enclosed vehicle for whatever length of time we were driving, then having everyone give me pity looks and try to act like they were having a great time over the crying baby (that’s how it felt anyhow) was just not my idea of a good time. I would rather just have her cry at home where it was easier. Then a friend told me ” all babies cry, you just have to get over it” and while I was kind of upset at the time, I finally thought “you’re right, this is my life and I can’t stop living it just because she cries a little”  So I went to that mommy play date. And she cried. The whole time. Until she fell asleep. And then when she fell asleep, I had actual conversations and fun with my friends. My nieces birthday party was 2.5 hours away when baby girl was about 2  months old. She may have screamed the majority of the way there, but we got there in one piece and had a great day with the family (had many people relieve us of baby duty while there). The care ride home: “10 hours of woman shushing” youtube video bought us a quiet, enjoyable ride home. Accept invitations (even just once in awhile) and don’t put everything on hold because it feels miserable to leave the house with a screaming baby- you might be surprised at what a change in scenery can do!

Find Your Support Person

I would imagine it is hard for someone who has not had a child, let alone a child who continuously cries, to truly understand what you are going through. Several people told me “I thought my baby was fussy…” after spending a few hours with us. What we would have given for just a “fussy” baby at that time. Talking with a parent who has been through a similar situation or even just a person who truly has your best interest at heart can help you feel 100 times lighter after a tough day.

work with your pediatrician

I cannot tell you how many times I typed into the pinterest search bar.. “cure colic… crying baby.. colic remedies…” in some desperate search for the right solution. Gas drops in her bottles, gripe water daily, anything we could think of.  Our pediatrician’s office was a GodSend. They worked with us almost weekly to try to find the cause for her discomfort. Our final formula selection: Soy. No diarrhea or diaper rash, and it seemed to stay down okay. The screaming may have seemed a little softer or maybe a few more minutes of calmness. We took it. We put her on Acid reflux medicine when she was about 2 months old. That was the first night she ever laid down awake without screaming. Watching her in the swing, gazing at the lights, eventually falling asleep.. I cried I was so happy. The acid reflux medicine helped immensely. She was much more soothable at that time. Still uncomfortable and unhappy, but if we were doing some shimmy shaking around the house she was content.

“Colic Tea” Recipe

Our pediatrician’s office gave this to us and we used it several times a week. It really seemed to soothe her, even if only for a short time!

  • 1 tsp carroway seed
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • 1 tsp anise seed

Mix the seeds in 4 oz warm water and steep for 20 minutes. Then crush the seeds and filter the mixture.

Always ask your pediatrician before giving your little one anything besides breastmilk or formula. We would give her 1-2 oz servings – max of 4oz per day.

Walk Away

I remember sitting in my prenatal classes and hearing about the prevalence of “shaken baby syndrome”.There is no fathomable excuse for how someone could possibly do that to an innocent baby. I still cannot imagine it getting so bad that you would hurt your baby, but I do know how crazy it can make you feel to be around the constant crying. When you start to feel like you would do anything for silence, just sit the baby down. Your baby will cry whether you hold them or not, so lay them in their crib where you know they will be safe.  Grab the monitor and give yourself some silence. Go for a walk around the yard, sit on the porch and sip some iced tea, go to the bathroom (because at this point doing that alone is a luxury).  Just do something that can help you relax for a few minutes and recharge. It will make all the difference in the world.

Everyone who I spoke with that had a baby with colic told me,

“One day they just stopped– and they were happy.”

It didn’t quite work out that way for us- after month 3-4 she started being happy/content more often and was what I would consider a “fussy” baby (but to us this was a huge change) By month 6-7 she really did change. Happy, smiley, entertained herself well and could be entertained by others. The fussiness ends and you all move on to happier, better times. Now our little one is one month away from a year old and I’m wondering where the time went. Now we are the parents that can be support and help to others who are trying to get through the rough days of parenthood. Now when the mom with the screaming child in the grocery store gives me the “I’m sorry” look- I offer my sincerest, “no worries, I’ve been there“.

Did you experience “colic” with your little ones? Are you right now? Share the tips and tricks that work for you! While not everything works for everyone— parents with a colicky baby (myself included) are often willing to try pretty much anything! 

More about Kelsey

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