Thursday, July 22, 2010

Surving Colic

I wrote this a couple years ago and thought it would be nice to share with all of you.  I call myself the "Queen of Colic" because I really feel like I know a lot about how to deal with it.  Hopefully these tips will help your colicky baby.

Surviving Colic
Congratulations!  You are a new mommy and you have this tiny, beautiful baby.  You’ve been dreaming of this day for nine months.  Probably even longer than that.  How exciting it will be to hold and cuddle that little bundle of joy.  If only that little bundle of joy would stop crying…
Having a colicky baby can be extremely stressful.  You’re dealing with the sleepless nights, having a baby attached to your breast and now a baby that just CAN’T be soothed.  You offer the breast, you rock, you bounce, you swaddle, you swing.  The baby just cries and cries until he finally passes out and sleeps, only to wake up later and do it all over again.
Believe me, I know what you’re dealing with.  My daughter had colic for over three months.  She cried ALL DAY LONG.  My only saving grace (and possibly hers) was that she slept great at night.  I’m writing this to pass on what I learned along the way.  Some of it was advice given to me, but most of it I learned myself – the hard way.
First and foremost know: this too shall pass.  I know it makes no difference to you right now, but the colic will go away.  You will have a happy baby.  Focusing on the future isn’t an easy task.  It’s hard to look outside of what’s happening right now.  It’s basic survival instincts to get through the immediate challenge.  Try posting a sticky note somewhere where you’ll see it everyday.  Write on it “the colic will go away soon”, or something like that.  Put up a calendar where you can mark off each day at a time.  Circle his three month birthday knowing the colic will most likely be gone by then.  Anything you can do to get you through one day at a time will help. 
Secondly, swaddle – REAL tight.  I would joke that I was swaddling my baby just shy of cutting off the circulation.  Most babies really like that feeling of being all tight and snug.  It reminds them of the womb.  It’s very calming for them.  Swaddling is easy.  There are two ways that I’ve used. 
Here are the directions for swaddling using a blanket in a diamond shape:
  1. choose a large blanketlay the blanket out so that it is positioned like a diamond (a tilted square)
  2. fold the top corner down about ¼ of the way
  3. lay the baby down so his neck is lying on the fold
  4. holding the baby’s hand either to his side or on his chest, pull one corner over and tuck it in the opposite side
  5. take the other corner and pull it tight around the baby.  You can tuck the corner into a fold of the blanket to keep it wrapped.
  6. variation: to keep baby’s legs in and close to his body, pull the bottom corner up to his hands before pulling the first corner over
Here are the directions when swaddling using a blanket in a square shape:
  1. choose a large blanket
  2. lay the blanket out so it is positioned like a square
  3. lay the baby down so his neck is lying on the top edge of the blanket
  4. holding the baby’s hand either to his side or on his chest, fold one side of the blanket over and tuck under the baby’s body
  5. fold the other side over and around the baby
  6. take the bottom edge of the blanket and pull it up.  You can pull it tight so the baby’s legs are tight to his body, or you can do it loosely
  7. wrap each side of the blanket around the baby
Both ways of swaddling works well.  It depends on which style is easiest for you.  I have found that it is harder for babies to get out of the squared shaped swaddle.  Babies don’t like to be swaddled forever, so unwrap him a little while after he’s gone to sleep.  Or if after being swaddled he’s still screaming unwrap him and try something else.
The third tip I have to offer is “white noise”.  This is loud (but not too loud), constant noise like a hairdryer, vacuum cleaner, shooshing (“shhh”) or static on the radio.  White noise also reminds babies of the womb.  It’s pretty loud in there with our blood circulating and other muffled noises that make it to the baby.  I had a loud fan in my bathroom that worked well.
Number four is motion.  Swinging up and down or side to side works well.  Large, slow swings are great.  I would dance around the house with my daughter.  It was good exercise for me, too!  Another type of movement they like is little jiggles, side to side.  Just enough to get their heads to jiggle a tiny bit.  Often car rides help them fall asleep with the movement of driving.
Number 5 is join a Mothers Club or some kind of Mommies’ group.  Meet other moms who have dealt with colic or are currently dealing with it.  Share tips.  Commiserate together.  Laugh and cry together and watch each others babies grow up and become happy, smiling babies.
Finally, the last tip I have for you is put it all together.  Swaddle your baby and swing him while running the vacuum.  Or swaddle him and jiggle him while shooshing in his ear.  Remember that you won’t have to do this forever.  He will stop crying, even if for a little while.
If you get frustrated, walk away.  Put your baby in a safe place, like a crib or playpen, and walk away for 10 minutes.  Go where you can’t hear your baby crying.  Go in another room and put some headphones on.  It won’t hurt your baby to cry for 10 minutes if it means you’ll get some sanity. 
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Ask your neighbor to watch the baby for you while you run an errand.  Get away for a little bit.  Call on a family member.  You may feel like you don’t want to burden someone else with this crying baby, but that someone else doesn’t have to deal with the crying day in and day out and won’t have a problem rocking him for a couple hours.
One parting comment: if you really think something is wrong with your baby, have it checked out.  Mostly crying babies are crying because babies cry.  But if your mommy instincts are telling you something’s wrong, then be safe and see your pediatrician. 

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