The Cure for Colic

When Levi’s doctor told us he had “classic colic” at his two-month appointment and followed it up with a solemn, “It will probably get better in two to three months…,” I nodded along to somehow assure her I could handle it. Of course I couldn’t handle it. Inside I was thinking TWO! TO! THREE!! MONTHS?!!!! I didn’t think I’d last another 2-3 days. She explained there are some things you can do to try to help but mostly you just have to…wait for him to grow out of it.

Sometimes colic is thought to be related to digestion, so we switched to a more sensitive formula. We altered Levi’s feeding schedule. We gave him colic drops, administered a probiotic, and held him upright for a long time after every feeding. We ever-so-slightly elevated one side of his crib in the hopes that it would help with reflux. And we bounced and we bounced and we bounced on that giant exercise ball until our spines were thoroughly smashed down to half the length we started with.

And yet, the crying continued.

Sometimes colic is thought to be related to sensory stimulation (often overstimulation), so we dimmed the lights, lowered our voices, got the best sound machine money can buy, and only dressed him in the softest cotton clothing.

And yet, the crying continued.

Sometimes they say colic is about the inability to have emotional control, so we tried to soothe him by holding, rocking, bouncing, pacing, strolling around the neighborhood, and baby wearing with three different carriers and wraps (Ergo, LILLEbaby, and the Solly wrap).

And yet, the crying continued.

Until it suddenly stopped.

As Levi approached five months old—the hardest five months of our lives as parents—one day I looked up and said to Daniel, “He hasn’t cried much today.” Daniel said “I was thinking the same thing but didn’t want to jinx it.” We knocked on all the wood around us. But the next day was the same: quiet. Levi still needed to be bounced to sleep and kept on a regimented schedule, but the screaming-crying was gone. He would cry if he was hungry or getting too sleepy but all the other stuff, the torturous wailing for no apparent reason with no solution, stopped suddenly and completely. It was like he was finally a “normal” baby.

Now at eight months, Levi is what I would describe as a happy baby. He smiles and giggles. He is playful and joyful. He gets fussy and there are, of course, hard days, but more often than not, he cries when he needs something and is easy to comfort and soothe. It seems like he just needed time to adjust and now that he has, he is a delight.

So what fixed it? What was the miracle cure for colic?

Time. Good old fashioned time.

The answer was waiting for him to grow up and out of it, which, if you’re currently in the throes of colic, is the least satisfying answer. I get it. Waiting it out, for weeks, months—forever?!—for your baby to stop shrieking for hours on end is the last thing you want to do. But the truth is, nearly all cases of colic eventually resolve on their own. People told me this very thing four months ago and it didn’t bring me much comfort. And yet here I am to pass the cold comfort on to you, because at the bare minimum, you need the assurance from someone who has been there that yes, your baby will stop crying. Eventually.

In the end, my recommendation would still be to do all the suggested colic fixes. Do the drops and gripe water. Adjust the diet and feed schedule. Try different techniques for soothing. Not because they’re likely to work, but because at least it’ll feel like you’re trying. One piece of parting advice from our doctor was, “Try everything you can. It probably won’t work, but at least it will feel like you are doing something about it.”

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18 thoughts on “The Cure for Colic

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  3. Stephanie

    I feel your pain. My son was a colic baby but so happy when we didn’t have his colic time. It’s very stressful and I cried A bunch with him. You feel like you are a bad mother because you can’t fix them, but in reality it’s just an internal thing we have no control over . To any colic moms here my advice. Step away and go outside. Call a friend and cry. The baby won’t die because you went outside for a breather. We all need a break. Have your husband or a relative watch the baby and take a night off.You have to ask them for a break they will not volunteer, well at least in my family they won’t. I know it’s hard to get away but it’s a must do for you mental stability. Take deep breaths and just know it’s only temporary and not forever. That is how I got through it. My colic baby is now 8. Happy and rarely cries.

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  5. Juliana

    My eldest cried like that first the whole first year. It was really tough, so I feel your pain! So glad that the worst has passed for you and you can enjoy your son. :)

    Reply
  6. Lee

    Andie! Daniel! your now clearly Rock stars as parents! Thank you for being honest, & straight up with your readers…thank you. As mommies, we just want to soothe our newborn and find that spot or paci, or bounce,/ & shake that gives them comfort and love. When our baby wants none of that… well, we suffer right along with them. I am proud of both of you. Levi, liked it better in the warm, enclosed womb…I get it. Now he is able to acclimate and thrive with James to show him the world and make him laugh! I am currently living in Spain. my baby girl, my daughter, had her 1st baby girl on May 7th. Being a Nana to her is my new most favorite thing. I remind her often of these words my beloved Mommy told me.
    Everyday is a new day, if today wasn’t so “good”, remember, tomorrow holds promise and a fresh start.

    Enjoy all the special moments… they go so so fast

    Love, leelee

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  7. Phi

    My first (Ben) had colic, it was so hard, and then just like you described…one day it just stopped! It’s so crazy. People always ask us about what it’s like having twins (which we had after Ben) and it’s hard to describe that both of them … together… without colic were easier than trying to figure out one with something like that lol.
    Sending you lots of love!
    Phi

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  9. Leah

    Yes! Two of my babies had colic and we tried everything, but they really just had to outgrow it. So happy that you’re on the other side! You don’t love them any less, but you sure do enjoy them more once they are happier and everyone is getting more sleep!

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  14. Sally

    Our first babe is three months old, and was SO colicky the first two months of her life. We are lucky it didn’t last longer than that, but in the moment it felt like an eternity. As you mentioned, nothing worked – probiotics, gripe water, altering my diet – nothing helped. I had those same moments of passing the baby off and escaping to the basement or our stoop or the bathroom – anywhere to get away from the crying. I felt so robbed of the joy that new parents are supposed to experience. But it is crazy how time truly heals all. Our girl is now a happy, babbling, cooing, curious, laid back three month old. The time we spent in the depths and darkness of colic honestly seem like a dream (nightmare?). I do have a little PTSD – the rare moments these days where she is fussy, I feel myself get anxious and my thoughts start to spiral – “what if IT is back, and she won’t stop crying this time?”. But on the whole, we survived and I am now cautiously optimistic that we are thriving. Your boys are adorable mama, thanks for sharing your journey with your readers!

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  16. Karen

    The medical world really needs to find a solution to colic – it may be that all THEIR babies are ecstatically happy from Day One, so there is no motivation. My son – a healthy 8 lbs 7 oz at birth – began being unhappy at about two weeks, and this unhappiness lasted nearly one year. He never napped, only slept about 7 hours per night (in drips and drabs, never all in a ROW, of course!), and we were at our wits’ end. Truly. I laughed bitterly at the time when people mentioned “sleeping like a baby.”

    In horses, colic is purely gastrointestinal and can sometimes cause death. Well of course it is gastrointestinal in humans as well…since I was nursing, I constantly tweaked my diet. Was it the sugar? The carbs? At the time, I did read in an older book, “Complete Guide to Writing Nonfiction” that: “After hours of research, I concluded that these infants were highly sensitive. They reacted just like other babies, only more so! External stimuli, like noises and tension in the family, and internal stimuli like gas pains or stomach ache – slightly disturbing to most babies – caused intense discomfort for colicky babies…however…they laughed more quickly than noncolicky babies, smiled from ear to ear, and beamed and cooed when played with…” So we’ll go with “highly sensitive.” Because the medical community really has no clue…

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