Colic really is the X-Files of baby medical conditions: truly unexplained. Whether or not the truth is out there, I have assembled a checklist you can use to help survive this trying phase with your baby.
First things first. What in Odin’s name is Colic?
WebMd defines Colic as “a term that applies to any healthy, well-fed infant who cries more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week, for more than 3 weeks”. Many doctors believe it is caused by gas pains from the baby’s digestive system still figuring out how it is supposed to work. In the case of our baby, the meltdowns are near daily from 11 PM lasting as late as 3 AM. At one point, the Colic may be responsible for a late night call to the hospital asking about a “newborn return policy”. (there is not one, if you were curious).
Colic is a unique diagnosis for a baby for a couple of reasons.
Partially because it seems to have almost become a generic, catch-all term pediatricians use for when they do not have an answer for why your baby cries. Filtering symptoms through a process of elimination and using “Colic” as the final catch all bucket for the leftover unexplained.
It is also unique because, unless they have endured though it themselves, it is hard for others empathize.
The prolonged sleep deprivation is the hardest part (a couple weeks in and it is painfully obvious why many nations use it as an effective means of torture). While the vague promises from others of “it gets better” are nice, unless they are offering to babysit during the meltdowns, you really care or don’t want to hear it.
Here is a checklist of options that have worked for us:
Running Water: All babies have an internal “off switch” and the trick is to find the right white noise at the right time. Many nights for us, it was the kitchen sink faucet. I held Grayson horizontally against the right side of my abdomen (think of a running back holding a football) with his head close to the sink. Once the water turned on, he stopped crying almost immediately.
Hair Dryer: I found this to work better than a vacuum cleaner which I know some parents are fans of. Hair dryers are also less costly than vacuums if they burn out.
YouTube Music App: This is a must have for multiple reasons. Looped tracks of hair dryer sounds lasting hours can be easily found, which is obviously much safer than running an actual hair dryer near the baby. There are an unlimited supply of lullabies to help baby sleep, as well as nature tracks of babbling brooks and rain sounds. (Hint: Look for ad free files! Nothing is worse than a loud ad blaring just as baby’s eyelids are getting heavy.
Late Nap: Many babies have a small window of time between “tired” and “so over tired that I am never passing out ” and trying to hit that target can be harder than hitting 2 meter Womprats with your T-16. We found that early evening naps helped shorten the 11 PM meltdowns by decreasing the “over tiredness.”
Here is a video of my son Grayson in the midst of a 3 AM colic meltdown and how quickly the hairdryer file quieted him down.
Beyond that, you will find that caffeine and subtitles will be your best friend while to catch up on your CW superhero shows on your DVR.
Obviously every baby is different and what works one day may not work the next, but Grayson is now about 4 months old and these tactics has helped decrease the colic over the past few months.