I’m just going to go with wikipedia for the basic definition on this one because there is so much info on colic out there.. I don’t know where to start!
In short, a colicy baby is a healthy baby that cries often for no apparent reason. Colic usually appears after two weeks of age and lasts until about four months, but can last longer (let’s hope not!). The cause of colic is unknown but many people seem to attribute it to tummy discomforts. It often appears or is worse at a specific time of day – typically the evening.
Colic can be very stressful for the baby and equally, if not more, stressful for the parents. Colic can lead to a strained relationship, breast feeding troubles, shaken baby syndrome, unnecessary medical treatments for reflux, and more. Links have even been found between baby colic and a mother’s likelihood to smoke.
Olive has colic.
While this has not been “diagnosed” by her pediatrician (we haven’t been to an appointment since it appeared) I can say so myself, with complete certainty. After all, if colic is such a mysterious thing, how can a pediatrician diagnose it in an office visit? Probably simply based on parent report. And I report that she has colic. So there.
Why do I think Olive has colic?
At approximately 5:30 or 6:30 nearly every evening Olive gets u p s e t until 10 or 11. I will change her and find a dry diaper. I will feed her which results and a few hurried gulps, pushing away, and more crying. I will hold her and she will cry. If we do 2-3 of the following things we are occasionally able to calm her down – sometimes for the rest of the night and sometimes for mere minutes – turning on the vacuum, swaddling her, putting her in the swing, putting in the sling, turning on the hair drying, walking around with her, patting her bottom rather hard, turning on radio static (which is how I ate my lunch today), putting her in a vibrating seat, running around the house with her, giving her one teaspoon of gripe water, etc.
Occasionally, much like yesterday and today, Olive hops on the fuss buss about 9 hours too early and our entire day is filled with the aforementioned activities. This sometimes makes me a little hesitant to have visitors or to bring Olive to work to meet my coworkers. It also makes me nervous for my midwife appointment and trip to the grocery and fabric stores tomorrow.
What is colic?
Based on what I see in Olive and what I learned from wikipedia and probably 30 other websites a few weeks ago, I don’t think Colic has much to do with the state of a baby’s tummy, as some say. I think that is sometimes the issue and maybe it is the issue all the time for some babies. But why would Olive’s tummy get upset at the same time every day regardless of what I ate, what I ate, and when she ate? I’ve played around with removing the things that I eat nearly every day and I get the same result so I’ve ruled that out. And she doesn’t seem to have an issue passing gas anyhow.
Last week I stumbled upon this article by Harvey Karp, M.D. that seemed a little out there to me but had a few good points. This article claimed that there should be a fourth trimester (ha), that babies just aren’t ready when they’re born. The author said that the things that are soothing to babies with colic are the things that cause them to be calm in the womb and for a good reason. We don’t want babies moving around too often near the end of pregnancy – once they’re head down we want them to stay that way – we don’t want them to knot or kink the cord – we want them to stay put, for the most part. Movement, the loud sound associated with being in the womb, and the increased pressure as they grow bigger trigger calming mechanisms. So it makes perfect sense that babies with colic crave sounds, pressure, and movement – it triggers calming!
That doesn’t help me much but it does make it easier to understand and sympathize with Olive. It also helps to know that it’s not anything that we’re doing wrong. And I wasn’t really buying the who upset tummy thing anyway.
So if your baby is colicy, take heart, it’ll end and it’s not your fault. If you haven’t already try some of the strategies I’ve listed above. Nothing works 100% of the time for Olive but when I’m prepared with that list I can easily access another strategy when one fails and I don’t feel quite at a loss like I did about three weeks ago.
Is your baby colicy? What do you do? What do you think causes your baby’s colic?
Check out this video featuring Harvey Karp, M.D. or his book, Happiest Baby on the Block (I don’t own this book nor have I read it).