Helping a Baby with Colic
Luke is two and a half months old right now. He’s a bouncing, happy, giggly baby boy who smiles when his parents speak to him. He cracks a grin every time I show him the cartoons on his new diapers. By all accounts, he is a perfectly healthy and happy baby.
Evenings, typically the last few hours before his final feeding of the night, are very different. Luke goes through a change in attitude and comfort very quickly. It’s as if a switch is flipped that sends him into a state of distress.
This cry is unlike any of his others. It comes across as though he is in pain or great discomfort. He is inconsolable. It also comes on without warning or a change in situation. He will be totally happy and smiley one minute and in agonizing distress the next.
Luke goes through 1-3 hours of crying almost nightly. This has been going on for the past couple of months, and varies in length and intensity.
For Mom and Dad, this is heartbreaking. We hold him knowing he is going through something very uncomfortable, and there is nothing anyone can do to put an immediate stop to it. It’s something he has to get through to grow, and it’s our job to do what we can to make the experience as comfortable as possible for him.
There is No Apparent Cause or Cure
According to the Mayo Clinic:
Researchers have explored a number of possibilities, including allergies, lactose intolerance, changes in the normal bacteria found in the digestive system, a digestive system that hasn’t fully developed, anxious parents, and differences in the way a baby is fed or comforted. Yet it’s still unclear why some babies have colic and others don’t.
A lot of people who believe colic is a simple matter. That it is the result of a baby that doesn’t pass gas efficiently. Others believe it has to do with breast milk or formula. The truth is: colic presents itself in babies fed via breast or bottle equally. It happens if Luke burps, or doesn’t burp.
When we talked to our pediatrician about it, she informed us that there is no cure or treatment that works for every case. She referred to our situation as being in survival mode. Essentially, anything we can do to help Luke settle down, we should do.
Plenty of Advice from Everyone
When we first shared with our friends and family that Luke was experiencing colic, we were offered tons of advice. Warm towels and blankets, medicinal drops, different positions for sitting and holding, and more.
We tried just about every suggestion we received, and none of these proved to be a miracle cure. Some worked really well to help distract or soothe him some of the time. Often, he just needed to cry for an hour or two before finally falling asleep and resting peacefully.
Here are some of these suggestions:
- A trip in the car
- Holding flat on stomach
- Sitting in bouncer
- Sitting in a swing
- Laying upright
- Sitting upright
- Warm blanket or washcloth on stomach
- Swinging while laying on stomach
- Paddy cake
- Leg lifts
Some folks even suggested water and/or tea to help sooth him. Our pediatrician said that this would actually cause further problems as babies his age don’t have a digestive system capable of handling additional water.
She pointed out that she often has to take trips to the ER to assist with babies that are drowning from the inside out because their bodies can’t process the additional water.
One product that did appear to help regularly was suggested by a few of our friends. Gripe Water helped out a lot in some instances.
His cries during a colic fit are agonizing. He screams so loud that his voice cracks and, on more than one occasion, he ended a colic fit sounding horse and raspy. When we apply Gripe Water, he pauses the cry for a moment in response to the taste of the product.
That break in focus has proven to be enough of a distraction to “reset” his fit. One time, he even went from full-blown screaming to sleeping in a few seconds after I gave him a dose of Gripe Water.
A Light at the End of the Tunnel
One thing we are looking forward to is his third month. That’s the month that our pediatrician says that colic corrects itself and resolves for the vast majority of babies suffering from it.
The Mayo Clinic agrees, stating: “Colic improves on its own, often by age 3 months.” Likely this is because the baby’s digestive system is finally developed enough to handle day-to-day operations.
Luke is a happy and healthy baby boy. He is learning new things every day, and has even started mimicking words he’s hearing. We look forward to him being able to enjoy his evenings as much as he does the rest of the day.