From surviving to thriving with a colicky baby

Having a colicky baby does not doom you to parental misery. These suggestions will help you love parenting once again!

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  • My first child had me convinced I wasn't cut out for parenting. For four solid months, he cried every second he was awake — "bloodcurdling, high-pitched wailing" kind of crying. His colic was my foray into parenting, and five years later, I'm thankful for the strength I developed as a result. If you have a colicky baby, here are some suggestions to go beyond surviving — and start thriving!

  • Ignore the nay-sayers

  • There's a very vocal group of people out there who don't believe colic exists. They claim that colic is a made up condition or the result of nervous parenting. They point out inconsequential factoids like "some cultures don't have a word for colic." They are wrong, and you should ignore them.

  • Colic is a medical condition, defined by the American Academy of Pediatrics as the "rule of three:" crying for more than three hours per day, for more than three days per week, and for longer than three weeks in an infant who is well-fed and otherwise healthy. While doctors sometimes find an underlying cause for colic, some babies cry for no apparent reason. Remember that colic is not a result of bad parenting. It's not a failure to take care of your baby or feed your baby properly. Do not feel guilty about having a colicky baby, and ignore anyone who tries to make you feel inferior.

  • Seek out medical advice

  • As I mentioned, some colic is traceable to medical conditions, such as infant reflux or food allergies. Treating a medical condition that contributes to colic may or may not ease the crying. In our family, my oldest had gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), and we were able to treat his spitting up with medicine. The medicine did not stop his crying, however. It's best to explore every option even if it doesn't give complete relief.

  • Sometimes doctors will suggest that a nursing mother try an elimination diet, or they may recommend that a formula-fed infant try a different type of formula. Work with a pediatrician who has experience treating colic in infants, and stay open to suggestions.

  • Give yourself a break

  • Dealing with a child who constantly cries is physically and emotionally exhausting. While the crying wears on your nerves, the constant walking, rocking and bouncing leaves your body depleted as well. You need time away from your baby. If you have a spouse or if you co-parent, divide up baby time so that both partners get a break each day. If you're on your own, find a family member or trusted friend who can offer respite care.

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  • Never, ever shake, or let a caretaker shake, a crying baby. If you feel yourself losing control, put the baby in a safe place and walk away until you're calm.

  • Get outside

  • Many parents with colicky babies are reluctant to take their children out in public. Strangers often say thoughtless things to parents with crying babies, and it's hard not to feel judged. However, you have to get out into society for the sake of your sanity, in spite of what others may think. Take a walk around the block, go to the store or sit at the park — anything to break up your routine.

  • Use comfort techniques

  • Sometimes distraction helps a colicky baby feel more comfortable. White noise, such as a hair dryer or vacuum, mimics womb sounds. Singing or shushing are techniques you can use anywhere. Rocking and bouncing can also calm your crier. Swaddling and baby wearing are other options that might offer comfort. Your doctor might suggest trying gas relief drops or gripe water to resolve digestion issues.

  • See the big picture

  • The most useful thing I heard when my son had colic came from my doctor. She reminded me that the colic was not his personality. Babies will outgrow their colic, and they're not destined to unhappy lives. Most colicky babies go on to become happy babies and toddlers. Just give them time.

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Heather Hale is a fourth-generation Montanan and mom to three crazy boys.

Website: http://moderatelycrunchy.blogspot.com

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