Coping with Colic {Ask the Readers}

I’ve birthed a couple of fussy babies. In fact, the running joke in our family is that if our third baby had been our first… she’d be our only!  Nah, it wasn’t that bad, but we did have our moments hours days!

I’m not quite sure what even qualifies a colicky baby, but I’ve heard a few horror stories of non-stop crying for hours on end, with virtually no way to calm baby or mom.  Tummy troubles?  Over stimulation?  All of the above and more?  I don’t know.  I’m no expert.

When our babies get fussy, we’re able to bring back the calm by either carrying the infant belly down in the “football hold,” or I nurse them.  Even though it is quite time consuming, my guaranteed “go-to” for fussin’ is breastfeeding.  In fact, I’m not quite sure how I would calm a colicky baby without the ability to sooth him in that way!

Our third baby was a “poop once every 5 days” girl, even when she was exclusively breastfed!  By day 3 and 4, she’d be pretty uncomfortable.  The best way for me to get her calmed down enough to relax and poop was to put her to the breast.  She didn’t necessarily need to eat, but it was calming for her.

I (obviously) don’t have all the answers, and coping with colic is a stressful proposition for new parents and parents-to-be.  This is where you come in.  If you have questions about colic, please ask, and I’m certain my readers can help.  Experienced moms, how do you cope with colic?

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  1. Take it one day at a time and know that around 3 or 4 months it gets better and/or goes away. I really enjoyed ,”The Happiest Baby on the Block.” I wished I would have read it before I had my baby. The movie is also helpful if you don’t have the time to read.

  2. My second was colicky and had reflux and later we found out she had food allergies. She would scream non-stop, I would nurse her, she would throw it all up and then we would repeat the process. Except she would be hungry and I would have no milk left because she just puked it all over me and everything in sight. Serious projectile vomiting. Ugh, I remember those days like it was yesterday and it was 10 years ago. We discovered that if we put our pinky finger in her mouth she would suck on it. Sucking on it prevented her from screaming as much, so we would sleep in shifts.

    • This sounds like us. Our youngest was colicky and had reflux, and although it got better, it still hasn’t ended. At 16 months old she’s still high needs, tempermental and exhausting! I’m starting to look more deeply into allergies now, even though our doctor has been convinced that it’s just her personality.

    • Oh my goodness, you had to be physically and emotionally exhausted!

  3. My son started crying at about three weeks of age, and he didn’t stop until he was about seven months old. This, after an emergency c-sec with complications AND he was my first child. I can’t say that anything stopped his crying; he’d pause to eat and sleep, but here are the things that helped me:

    – Gripe water seemed to lessen the severity of the crying
    – The “mommy bounce” soothed him somewhat, usually lulled him to sleep. I had killer quads after seven months of bouncing.
    – Calling in reinforcements. Because of my new-mommy haze and probably pride, I waited too long to do this. Another mother finally looked at me and said, “this is why we have a support network. You will lose your mind if you don’t get a little downtime.” She was right.
    – A spirit of acceptance (“Hi, my name is Julie and my baby has colic.” Sounds silly, but until I actually accepted this I had a very hard time.) and, through prayer, renewing your strength to face another wail-filled day. It doesn’t last forever but, when you’re in the thick of it, it sure seems like it will.
    – Many other moms told me that driving soothed their colicky babies, as did a swing or bouncer.

    My son is five now, and he’s a bright, articulate, sensitive little man. These days, when we have a bad day or he’s struggling with some behavioral issue, I can look back at the old days and think, “man, this is NOTHING.”

    Good luck to all the moms living with colic. You didn’t cause it, you can’t prevent it, you are a WONDERFUL mommy and it WILL pass.

  4. My oldest son screamed nonstop for the first few months of his life. He was our first child and we were clueless. Nothing seemed to calm him. I was given The Happiest Baby on the Block book and it saved my life. I was better able to understand and help my son. The book says that colicky babies don’t necessarily have stomach problems but can be either overly sensitive to things or just strong willed. Mine was strong willed. We learned to swaddle him really tight, put him in his swing on high and to run the vacuum next to him for hours at a time. It sounds crazy but it would calm him and help him sleep. At about 4 months he kinda snapped out of it and has been great ever since. Good luck and lots of prayers!

  5. My third son was very colicky. We tried many things, but the best was taking him to the chiropractor every 3-4 days. After he was adjusted he would pass gas and be tolerabe for days.

    • I need to explore the possibilities of chiropractic care some more, I think. I’ve only been for myself once or twice, and my children have never been. Very interesting!

  6. My first born was very colicky. From about 1 week old until 2 months old, he would be up every evening from 10pm until 2 or 3am, crying. I would nurse him every so often and that would calm him for a very little bit, but then he just would start crying again. Luckily, at the time my husband was a full-time student with only late afternoon or evening classes, so he was able to help out at night. I remember thinking it would never end. Then, on the day he turned 2 months, he went to bed at midnight! It improved from then on. (And his 3 younger sibs did not have colic.) So, my advice would be to take it one day at a time and remember that it will eventually end.

  7. We have been blessed with not having to deal with colic. Whenever our babies get fussy we use Dr. Christopher Kid-e-Col. It is advertised for colic and teething. I don’t know what I would do without it! Whenever our baby is fussy and I cannot sooth them at all I give them a few drops and in less than 10 minutes they are settled down. Our kids have had no pain with teething. You can give it to them orally but also rub it on their tummy, bottom of their feet, etc. Since it is an herb you can repeat as many times as needed. Here is a link to amazon

  8. I had two VERY fussy babies. My second had colic and chose the hours of 1:00-3:330 AM to scream. nothin worked much except to swadle tight and walk the floors, he didn’t even want to nurse. Thankfully his stage only lasted about 4 months, then he was fine and slept throught the night. I have no idea to this day what bothered him. My third was also fussy. It turns out hers was related to reflux. She was a very good baby except for when she ate. Then she spit most of her food back up and cried for about 45 minutes after eating. The first thing I did was cut my died to pretty much chicken, green beans, and potatoes, thinking she might have a food allergy. While it helped it didn’t solve the problem. At this point I was glad it wasn’t allergies but I still wanted to know why she couldn’t keep much down. Finally as 6 months she was diagnosed with failure to thrive(due to spitting up most of her meals) and GERD. The Dr prescribed prilosec and she started keeping her food down. I didn’t really want her on medication so I researched alternative options. One thing I came across was dill. She loved nawing on dill pickles and it would settle her stomach without the use of her medication. I also gave her small amouts of peppermint tea to sooth her digestion also. Thankfully at about 14 months her digestive track caught up with her body and now that she is 6 the only things that bother her are tomato based foods. She still loves dill pickles and eats at least one a day.

    • I’m glad to see you say “it only lasted about 4 months” because when you’re in the thick of it, 4 months seems like an eternity. So, for all you new mommies out there… this too shall pass! 😉

  9. My oldest son Joshua cried non-stop for the first several months he was alive. I was alone in a new state thousands of miles from friends and family (hubby joined the Air Force just months before we got married, then immediately pregnant) and I thought I’d never survive this crying baby.

    One day I was watching a morning talk show (Leeza Gibbons…it was 13 years ago), and I saw a piece about this cassette tape (again, 13 years ago) that had white noise sounds on it to calm babies. It included noises like a running vacuum, a blow dryer, static on a TV, a lawnmower, etc. We couldn’t afford the tape (military income), but I decided to try my blow dryer. I turned it on the cool setting, hung it over the rocking chair in my baby boy’s room, and like a MIRACLE, he stopped crying.

    I told my husband months later that I needed to write the manufacturer of that blow dryer. I had had it since college and that thing ran for hours and days on end so that Joshua would sleep. It was like a magic wand. I’d nurse him on and off all day and night, but for about 12 hours of the day 5pm – 5am, he’d cried every single time I tried to put him down UNLESS I flipped on that blow dryer. When I did that, he’d instantly stop crying and fall asleep.

    I now have 6 children (newest baby boy only 13 days old) and I’ve never had another colicky child like Joshua was, but I have on occasion pulled out a blow dryer for a fussy baby and it’s always helped!

  10. My sweet baby girl has me wondering about her all the time. I don’t think she has real colic because she isn’t inconsolable, but she has all of the other classic colic symptoms… shrieking in pain suddenly while drawing up/ extending legs even while sleeping soundly, being soothed (sometimes) by a knees to chest position, and passing lots of gas when crying. She’s 6 weeks old now and this is day 3 of me not being able to put her down (even when she’s fast asleep) day and night and feeding every 1-2 hours. Part of me is hoping it’s a mild case of colic because that would mean this is the peak and it should get better from here.

    Things that work for us are carrying in the Moby wrap with me bouncing gently and patting her bottom while talking to her in a soothing way, holding belly down like a football with her knees against her belly, holding cradled in 1 arm while swaying and patting her bottom, or breastfeeding.

    • Sounds like a fussy, gassy baby to me, which I *know* doesn’t tell you a thing. So frustrating when we don’t know what’s wrong and we don’t know how to help them. You do a lot of the same things I do when my babies were/are gassy.

  11. We have only had one very colicky baby out of 3, but our solution was always to take him to the chiropractor. Sounds preposterous, I know, if you are not used to the idea, but it worked miracles for our little guy!

  12. I haven’t had kids yet, but I was apparently a very colicky baby. My parents claim that I cried my head off for a full 9 months! Their solution – go for a drive and then once I calmed down, stick my car seat on top of the clothes dryer. I spent quite a bit of my infancy on top of that dryer. 🙂

  13. Starting at 6 weeks (on my birthday, no less) my son was very colicky. It would begin late afternoon/early evening every day and go for hours. I finally was recommended “Happiest Baby on the Block” and I used several ideas in there, and it really helped. The swaddling was the biggest – he LOVED to be swaddled, and I ended up continuing swaddling him at night till he was almost 8 months old!! (Aden and Anais swaddle blankets were my lifesaver – he was a big baby). So when he would start crying uncontrollably, I would swaddle him, give him a small amount of gripe water, which would kind of shock him out of his screaming for long enough to put a pacifier in his mouth. Then he would start sucking on it and calm down usually…sometimes I had to kind of swing him from side to side in my arms as well to get him calm. Don’t know what I would have done without the book and gripe water!! I almost never gave him the full “dose” of gripe water that was recommended on the bottle, usually just a little bit in the syringe was enough – I always imagined him thinking “hmmm, this tastes good! Oh, here’s a pacifier, I like those, I should suck on it instead of scream!” The pacifier never worked by itself when he was screaming, he really needed the bit of gripe water to shock him out of screaming.

    Hope this is helpful to someone!

  14. My third was pretty bad. We used infant gas drops they where the best thing every. Also rocking her and patting her but was calming for her.

  15. My 2nd and 4th have both been colicky. With the baby, it was like she woke up on Day 7 and realized she wasn’t in Mommy’s tummy anymore, and she wasn’t happy about it at. all.

    Although I do think there are some digestion issues contributing, she also gets over-stimulated very easily. It’s a running joke here that she should have been the firstborn rather than the fourth because her sisters are pretty much over-stimulating 24 hours a day.

    She can be the sweetest thing ever, but it’s also very tiring to care for a baby who isn’t easily comforted, and she still sometimes has hour-long crying jags if she gets woken up from her nap too early or thrown off her routine.

  16. My daughter was extremely colicky from 3 weeks to 4 months. We tried everything, but the only thing that soothed her was breastfeeding. I am so thankful for breastfeeding! I honestly would not know what to do without it – for months and months I would sit down on the couch for 3 hours every night and just feed and feed and feed. Then I would be up every 2-4 hrs feeding some more.

    Two other things did seem to help in dire situations like when we had to be in the car- turn on the static! We turned it up really loud, not too loud, but still loud and it calmed her almost instantly! It was a lifesaver for a long time, but she only liked AM static, lol. Also, the vacuum cleaner did similar wonders for a time.

    The only thing you can do is take it day by day. Get help and take breaks from the crying if you have to. I would put her down once an hour or so for 5-15 minutes and lay down in my bed and compose myself before trying to calm her again.

  17. Just wanted to pass on the good news that therapeutic essential oils can be to any baby or Mom dealing with fussiness or colic. Young Living had fantastic products that work so well. Just a little bit on their feet or tummy, and your done….just let me know if I can help you!!
    Blessings to you & yours…we thank the Lord daily for giving us these plants for healing!

  18. I’m a new mother of a 4 1/2 month old baby boy. While I was pregnant with him, I never imagined that I’d have a fussy/colicky baby – I really did think that I could comfort him if were to ever get fussy – certainly not the case. We’ll put that in the bucket with all the other things I would quickly learn. At 1 month, he was taken off my breast milk and put on a hypo-allergenic formula to ease his tummy troubles. I do think though that he needed more sleep and needed to be soothed in order to get to that point. There were times that I wanted a serious break – I am so grateful to have my husband who would ALWAYS step in and “save” me. I kept telling myself, “You will get through this!” and resorted to my mother’s support who also had a colicky baby (my little sister.) By 3 months, he started to come out of his funk , and we were both overjoyed!
    Now that he’s post-colic, we’re facing other issues like “How do I teach this child to self-soothe himself instead of turning to me for 30+ min of rocking for EVERY nap and bedtime?” I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. I truly believe that if my little Avery would have had more sleep, he would have been a lot easier to comfort.

    • I think you’re so right about babies getting “too wired” to be able to settle down and just sleep. That whole over stimulation thing they talk about is true!

  19. Re. constipation – I’ve always heard that it’s nearly impossible for a breast-fed baby to be constipated because breastmilk is so perfectly digested! I would guess that the pain was from something else? I don’t know but all 7 of mine have gone up to TWO WEEKS without a BM. Especially w/ the first couple babies I’d be hounding my doctor – I’d practically be in tears when they finally went!

    Finally we learned my nursed babies just didn’t need to go that often, they were gaining weight just fine and perfectly happy.

    Regarding colic, yes, nursing is a lifesaver, but also gentle infant massage on the abdomen. That’s worth paying for if you can find a masseuse/chiropractor who specializes in that!

  20. I just wrote about this in my blog a couple of weeks ago. I highly recommend the Happiest Baby on the Block DVD. I ordered it from Netflix and we watched it right away. Dr. Karp really understands fussy babies and shows you how to calm them. Our baby likes to be swaddled and loves the “head bobble” that he shows. She’s 8 weeks old now so hopefully this fussy phase has reached it’s peak. It’s got to get better, right?? 🙂

  21. alissia haig says:

    Its so nice to know that I’m not alone in all of this! My 2nd was colicky and would cry for hours in the late evening, pretty much uncontrollably. We tried it all : swaddle, feed, gas drops, gripe water, swing, rocking, walking, nothing seemed to work! The vacuum & fan over our oven would help her get to sleep, but we had to leave it on, b/c she would wake right up when you shut them off. Finally at 8wks, she was put on Alimentum & prevacid for reflux & milk protein allergy. It helped a lot, but she still continued to be a difficult baby and cried a lot…..she still does now and is 15 months old! I think she has a tough personality, and is definetly hyper sensitive. She needs a lot from me, and I end up holding her and soothing her a lot on a daily basis. If shes sick or teething, look out! I literally hold her like all day. I used to wear her a lot, up until about 9 months when she just got too heavy to wear (Baby Bjorn) Its tough, but she is also so darn cute and cuddly…..I wouldn’t trade her for the world 😉

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