Surviving Colic: Tips from a Real Mom
Hi, Moms! NuMama here from NuAngel, Inc. Are you dealing with colic or know of someone who is?
As a mom who has experienced colic twice now, I can attest that nothing about colic is easy. Let me take a moment to encourage you and offer a few tips from a mom who has been there and come out on the other side. I hope this will be an encouragement to a mom out there who needs it!
1) Discuss with your Pediatrician
All babies cry, so is it colic? It can be hard to know. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 2-3 hours of crying a day is considered normal, especially in the first three months. But, if your child cries for more than 3 hours a day, for more than 3 days a week, for more than 3 weeks, then your baby may have colic. Colic cries are generally intense and hard to soothe.
With my first child, I felt like our former Pediatrician ignored my concerns and shrugged me off as a new, inexperienced mom. My baby and I endured far more than we should have with very little support for this reason.
With my second, I brought the concerns to our wonderful Pediatrician and I was met with compassion and concern. I called the nurse-line frequently and little by little, the office helped me to help my baby. Their support was invaluable!
Whether you’re a first-time mom or a fourth-time mom, you are the expert on your baby! If you feel like your baby cries more than is "normal", reach out to your doctor for help and suggestions on how to soothe baby. If you feel brushed-off, don’t hesitate to find a new group who will meet you and your baby with support and compassion.
2) It’s Not You
With both colic babies, I was left thinking “What I am doing wrong?". Looking back, I realize that I was doing nothing wrong. I was tending to my babies every minute of the day, constantly trying to soothe and help them to feel better. I was doing everything I could!
It can feel very defeating not being able to comfort your own child, especially if you’re adding sleep deprivation to the mix. Add in the noise of the crying itself and it can make a perfect storm to make a mom feel discouraged.
It’s not you and you’re not “doing it wrong”. You love your baby no less that if he or she could be easily soothed.
3) Experiment and Embrace what Makes Baby Comfortable
Every baby is different and will like different things, so experiment and find something that your baby may respond to.
For some people, baby wearing helps, but neither of my babies liked to be worn in a carrier. Other babies, like my first, like being strolled in the stroller. I have vivid memories of pushing my first-born down the street, and even making laps around the inside of the house when it was dark!
My youngest daughter was only soothed in her car seat. She would cry for about the first minute, and then the vibration of the car would calm her down and she would sleep peacefully. So, every single day (and sometimes multiple times a day), we would go for a ride!
If my older daughter was at preschool, I would use this car time to have a mental break and listen to uplifting, calming music. Sometimes, I’d use the time to talk on the phone to a friend or family member, as my daughter most likely wouldn’t wake up. Other times, I just enjoyed the silence.
If my older daughter was at home, we’d all load up in the car and it would be a special treat time for her. For example, we’d ride until we got to a drive-through and she’d get a kid’s meal and have a “Car Picnic”. Other times, she watched a movie or listened to her choice of music in the car. Sometimes, she even needed her own quiet time as well!
Another thing that would calm my baby was going outside. Frequently, my husband would take her outside for just a few minutes (if it was very hot or cold), or for quite a while in nice weather. Even now, going outside helps to reset my baby’s mood.
4) Take a Break, Ask for Help, Accept Help
One of the biggest skills for survival was to take a break and ask for help. I must say that this is a learned-skill, and it was much easier to do with my second child with colic than the first.
With my first, I felt unnecessary guilt for needing a break from my screaming child. After all, she needed me! But, if you are listening to constant crying hour after hour, day after day, you need a break to take care of yourself.
It sometimes feels defeating or embarrassing, but asking for help is important! Talk to your husband, your family, or a trusted close friend.
Help for me came in the form of leaving the house for a few minutes every day. Some days, I left for 15 minutes when my husband came home, drove around the neighborhood, and then came back. Sometimes, I went to get the groceries in the evening or a Saturday morning when my husband was home. Taking a small break for myself helped me be able to take care of my babies better when I returned.
Other times, close friends or family members dropped food at my house or brought food when they came to visit. When you have a child with colic, cooking becomes a huge challenge. Accept help in the form of meals, even if you’re out of that newborn stage!
It’s hard to accept help sometimes, especially when you know that other moms have peacefully sleeping newborns and haven’t skipped a beat. Give yourself grace. You don’t have to write a thank you note or return the favor right away. Later down the road, you’ll be out of this season, and you can look for ways to give help in return!
5) Older Siblings: Talk and Spend Time
Colic was much easier to deal with the first time around. It didn’t last as long for my first daughter, and I was the only one affected during the daytime hours. My second daughter’s colic lasted about twice as long and I also had an older daughter in the house who was having to cope with it as well. This made me feel very frustrated, guilty, and helpless!
What I found most helpful was to be open and honesty with my daughter—as much as her little 3-year-old mind could handle. I verbally acknowledged that it was hard for both of us to hear baby sister cry and not be able to help her and make her happy.
When she showed interest, I encouraged her to help me soothe the baby by singing or gently bouncing her baby seat. I also talked to her about how much she cried as a baby and how I held, rocked, and strolled her. It comforted her to know that mama paid her just as much attention as a baby, and that now she is “grown up” and happy!
Whenever I could, I tried to steal little moments of quality time with her, either at home or out of the house. I won’t forget the first outing with just my older daughter about a month after our second daughter was born. We went down the road to the local bakery, picked out a treat, and ate it and talked. Oh, how I missed that calm, sweet time with just her. Taking a short amount of time helped us to bond and gave both of us the break that we needed.
6) This Will Pass
If your baby has colic, this season will feel never-ending. You will feel exhausted, defeated, and discouraged. But, take it from me, it will pass. I’ve survived twice! I now have a delightful preschooler and a much happier older baby who is learning more independence each day!
In this season, give yourself a pass. It’s harder said than done, but give yourself a pass on a home-cooked meal, putting laundry away right away, and a spotless floor. Give yourself a pass if you’re not able to attend a birthday party or something else “fun” that you normally would love. You’re surviving, mama; but before you know it, you and your baby will be thriving!
Want more information? Check out these helpful articles that I found on colic:
Colic Relief Tips for Parents
My Baby is Fussy. Is Something Wrong?
Coping with Crying