Colic is a frustrating condition marked by the rule of 3: If your baby cries for more than three hours a day, more than three times a week and for more than three weeks in a row, her pediatrician will most likely diagnose her with Colic. Also known as the 11th ring of parenting hell.
Opinions differ across the medical community as to the mysterious causes of colic. It affects roughly one in five babies, and seems to occur most often at the same time of day, every day that it occurs, usually in the evening. All babies cry, of course, and a fussy baby doesn’t necessarily mean that she has Colic.
Signs of Colic include:
• Louder, higher-pitched, intense, more frantic crying than is her usual
• Sudden crying, starting out of nowhere, and for no apparent reason.
• Excessive and inconsolable crying at the same time every day (usually later in the evening or at night)
• Rigid or stiff body, often with clenched fists
• Bent or curled-up legs and tensed stomach muscles
• Bloated-looking tummy
• Some parents say that their colicy babies looked angry, in pain, or constipated
When does it start and when the hell does it end?
Colic most often shows up when a baby is 2 or 3 weeks old, and generally ends around the four month mark. (It doesn’t always last that long, though.) Although it may feel infinitely endless, IT WILL END EVENTUALLY. Hang in there!
Does she need to see a doctor?
Yes, it’s a good idea to talk with your baby’s pediatrician if your baby cries a lot or you suspect Colic. She’ll need to rule out other potential causes, like illnesses or intestinal problems, and she’ll want to check that your baby is feeding and growing normally.
Other reasons to see your baby’s doctor:
• If your baby has other symptoms like fever, vomiting, or diarrhea
• If your baby’s crying could be the result of a fall, injury or illness.
• If your baby looks bluish during a crying episode
• If you notice changes in your baby’s eating, sleeping or behavior other than her crying
You can help make this visit more efficient by tracking when your baby cries and for how long, and logging her sleeping and eating patterns. This log can go a long way toward helping your baby’s pediatrician make an informed diagnosis.
What can you do in the meantime?
Once all other conditions have been excluded, and your baby’s pediatrician has concluded that this is, in fact, Colic, they may recommend gas drops or gripe water. Just as often, though, doctors will tell parents to exercise patience because colic, while frustrating, is not harmful to your baby and will eventually go away on its own. Once it comes to this, there’s not a whole lot you can do for her beyond your list of soothing techniques, but there are some things that you’ll need to do for yourself. Colic may not be harmful to your baby, but it’s likely to cause you and your partner a great deal of stress and can lead to some unhealthy choices and behaviors.
Things you can do to survive a Colicky baby:
• Remind yourself that crying won’t hurt her and now might be a good time to take a short break. Take a shower, take a walk, or simply go into another room and put on your headphones.
• Remember that this is not your fault. If soothing techniques won’t work, it can cause you to feel rejected and frustrated, but blaming yourself is useless and unnecessary. You didn’t cause this, and it won’t last forever, although it will feel like it. It will end, and you will get past this. Focus on getting through one day at a time. You can mark off the days on a calendar if that helps.
• Don’t feel guilty for feeling angry or resentful. It doesn’t make you a bad parent to be frustrated. Darker feelings are completely normal when dealing with frustrating situations. However, if the depth of your emotions worry you, or you think you might get out of control, you should seek help right away. Make sure your baby is safe, and leave the room. You need to discuss these feelings with your doctor.