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December 21, 2017
Colic. Until you’ve experienced it in your own child, it seems like a short-lived, kind of annoying condition some babies go through. But when you have a colicky baby, every waking moment of their life can feel defeating and challenging. Everyone is searching for a parent’s guide to colic or some miracle fix.
I am the parent of a 4 month old. I’m just now emerging from the murky depths of my own child’s surprising colic experience and, let me tell you, it knocked me down and pinned me to the floor for a good 2.5 months.
Colic has been defined by the medical community as crying and fussiness. These symptoms last more than 3 hours a day for 3 days a week for at least 3 weeks. In Marc Weissbluth’s book, Your Fussy Baby, he describes this condition as the 20% of all babies born who are extremely fussy and hard to soothe.
Colic is a diagnosis of exclusion, which means that by definition there is not another medical problem causing the fussiness. Sometimes it can be confused with excessive spittiness (called reflux disease) or food intolerances. These all of which are good to consider when evaluating your baby’s unique situation.
Of course, every infant has their (many) moments of crying. However, colicky babies seem to take the trophy for their ability to get irritated with pretty much anything. What’s most confusing as it happens is that they grow and develop normally. However, they just act unhappy the majority of the time.
My daughter was what we lovingly referred to as “a hater.” She hated the swing, the paci, the carrier, the baby wrap, the bassinet, the car seat, the bouncy chair and the activity mat. I know because we tried them all! We eventually nicknamed her, “Lemoncello” in reference to the lemony Italian liquor. Why? For her ability to be super sweet when peaceful yet strong and sour at many other times.
I started to wonder what was making her that way. Was I too anxious? Did I not have her on a good enough sleep schedule? Was there something I was eating/wearing/doing/not doing? Would it ever end and would I ever get sleep again? (That one I haven’t solved yet, by the way =) …) I am a pediatrician and, yet, I searched the Internet just like every other parent of a “hands on” baby for a way to fix her.
In the end, there were a few modifications my pediatrician and I (yes, pediatricians have pediatricians for their children) made to help me cope with her colic but it really came down to time. Now that she is 4 months old, she cries less, grins a huge toothless grin and is somehow more distractible and less fussy. She still has bad days but they are much less frequent now.
Dealing with a colicky baby all day and all night can cause discord between parents, maternal depression and anxiety. Your pediatrician can help by doing a thorough history and physical to make sure there isn’t a more serious medical condition and can offer support and resources to help you cope with the stress of a baby that doesn’t give you a break.
Colic is a real, difficult, confusing thing to go through with your baby. The good news: it does end. Your baby will not fuss and cry forever. But while you’re waiting for that magic day to arrive, reach out for help if you need it and take as much care of yourself as possible.
Want even more? Check out our book, The Newborn Baby Blueprint: Preparing to Care for Your Infant and Yourself.
Looking for registry or shower gifts? Check out our Newborn Gift Boxes, filled with inspiration, information, and a little love for all the modern mamas you know (including you!)
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