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My seven-week old baby (who was born four weeks premature) cries
and fusses virtually all of the time -- except when he is
sleeping. Sometimes, the cries are contained whines, other
times they are out-of-control shrieks, but whatever they are,
they are always present unless the poor guy is so tired out that
he is finally able sleep. The result is that the baby has no
quiet alert time. There's no time to play or interact or gaze
into each other's eyes. Literally. I cannot recall a single
moment in his short life when he was awake and simply present
and relaxed with me. He is either sleeping or miserable; there
seems to be no other state. I have another child, and I know
that this isn't ordinary ''fussy baby'' behavior. The problem is
that when I seek help from my baby's pediatrician, I get the
standard: ''Babies cry. He'll grow out of it.'' I'm terribly
upset and concerned. It's not so much the lack of sleep and
quiet (though I'd love to have a little sleep and quiet); it's
more the way this is interfering with our bonding and
attachment -- and the way that I fear it is interfering with his
development. I hold him when he is crying, and I hold him when
he is sleeping, but can he be developing normally if he spends
all of his awake moments crying and upset (he does this even
when he is nursing)? I've looked at the posts on colic, and
even though this seems slightly different (it isn't limited to
nighttime), I've tried much of the advice to no avail. Has
anybody out there experienced this particular type of problem?
Even if you haven't been able to resolve it, I'd love to hear
from people whose babies had this problem but survived it just
I'm so sorry. I know how sad and worrisome and frustrating a
colicky baby can be. Colic is not just restricted to night-time.
My daughter cried, also, in every waking moment no matter how much
we held her, rocked her, walked her, sung to her, pleaded with
her, let other people hold her, did ''colic holds'', put her in the
swing, took her out of the swing on and on world without end she
cried. But it stopped eventually and she is fine now (very
spirited, but a great little girl). She walked early, talked early
and is very, very loving now. My husband and I are OK, too.
Two things that helped me were knowing that I could set her
somewhere safe and walk away for a few minutes and that wouldn't
make me A Bad Mom and, for whatever reason, being out in the frsh
air helped a little so we spent 2 months swinging on the porch
Take care of yourself and know that your wee one willsettle down
Yes, yes, I know all about this one. My first kid, who was three
weeks premature, cried like that, too, virtually every moment
that she wasn't sleeping or eating. The good news is it will
probably stop like a faucet turning off when your baby is three
months old. That's also the bad news. I remember thinking that I
wasn't going to make it through another week, much less two more
months. But somehow it passed, and on December 10, 1996, my
daughter lay on the rug awake and happy for 40 minutes for the
first time in her life. And by the end of her third month she
was a just plain normal baby who cried when she wanted
something. I have met two babies who cried constantly in the way
mine did, and one of those ceased crying like my daughter did,
promptly at three months. The other, though, is the cautionary
tale, because it turned out that the poor little sprout was
allergic to everything, and he kept right on crying until his
mom stopped eating all dairy, all wheat, etc., which was at six
months. There's a good chance your kid is like mine, but you
might want to test out the allergy theory, and maybe get
yourself a more sympathetic pediatrician.
Good luck. It will end.
The things that I would try are:
1) Dairy free diet (change formula or your diet if breastfeeding)
completely for 10 days.
2) Consider trial of Zantac to make sure it's not reflux.
3) Read ''The Happiest Baby on the Block'' by Harvey Karp.
4) If it is colic, it will begin getting better soon and should
be gone by 12 weeks--whatever you do.
5) Hang in there! Be good to yourself and take breaks.
Hi, you didn't say if you are breastfeeding or not. If you are,
you may want to check and see if your baby is allergic to
certain foods you are eating, . A friend of mine's baby cried
constantly for the first few months until the mom finally
figured out that the baby was severely allergic to
a host of things, among them, wheat, various vegetable proteins-
beans, tofu, etc. She altered her diet drastically, and the
crying stopped. If you'd like more information, email me and I
can get you in touch with my friend.
You are going through something very difficult, even
devastating. Your pediatrician is right that he will grow
out of it, but that is not helping you deal with him right
now. My first child had atypical colic, she cried all her
waking time, she had no quiet alert times. She also didn't
sleep as much as babies usually sleep. It was hell. You
are doing all the right things--holding her is really
important. Also, trust that this will get slowly better.
Do you have anyone to take care of him so you can get away
for a short time? It's not good for you to feel trapped
with an inconsolable baby. Sometimes parents feel they
can't leave their crying baby with someone else--the
caretaker will be overwhelmed. Actually, it's easier to be
a caretaker of a colicky baby than a parent. We're wired up
to be very responsive to our child's cries, and a caretaker
is a little less emotionally tied to the child. So get a
babysitter and take a nap, go for a walk, get away from the
sound of the crying.
Another thing we had some success with was a homeopathic
remedy from Hyland's, ''Colic Pills''. They are
instant-dissolving tablets that you put in the baby's mouth
and they seemed to have a calming effect.
Other things to try are windup swings (take the baby to the
store and try different models before buying), car rides,
putting the baby on the dryer (in his seat) while you run
it, soothing music... keep trying things because you never
know what will work.
No one knows why babies have colic. I think colic is a
response to a variety of causes. There may be a connection
between your son's premature birth and his colic. However,
it doesn't seem to be connected to anything worrisome about
a baby's health. It also doesn't seem to interfere with
development. It's natural for you to feel very anxious and
even upset because he cries a lot, but try to hang on to the
knowledge that he's basically fine and he will get over it.
I know this is a really hard thing for you to go through.
Please feel free to contact me if you have more questions:
Your post has brought back very unpleasant memories -- as a
colic nightmare survivor, I want to say your baby will be fine
and will love you. I would focus on surviving it and don't
worry about bonding (which you are doing just by taking care of
your baby -- this bonding and attaching business is made way too
mysterious and elusive so ''experts'' can write books about it.)
The issue is that your baby gives you so little positive
feedback, those cute little sighs and smiles that make parents
say ''it's all worth it''. I had an extremely colicly baby who is
still an incredibly negative, grumpy seven year old. Parenting
these kinds of children is extremely challenging, worrying, and
even depressing. Mothers by default blame themselve for problems
with their children. However, I've come to accept I can't change
his challenging temperment package. I can only provide guidance
to help him learn to manage it. What will make you a better
parent is to recharge those quickly drained batteries (e.g.
nights off, dates with friends, babysitters). You may feel
quilty about leaving your very demanding, very young baby but I
recommend you find a sitter you feel confident it, pay them
well, and take a break. Regular breaks that you can look forward
to. Good luck. It will get better but I also know that's little
comfort now. (P.s. Don't be crushed if the colic continues after
the standard three month period. Some kids cry longer. My cried
for four months, that last month being longer than the previous
Oh, boy. I've been there. It's really hard, and the hardest part, as you
are discovering, is not letting it interfere with your relationship with your
This is what you need to do: stick up for yourself with your doctor. Your
baby very likely has GES - Gastro Encephalic Reflux (some people just
call it reflux). We were unlucky in that our doctor had not really
encountered reflux before, and his only help was to suggest that we go
to the hospital to have a barium swallow, to see if there was a physical
anomoly. This wouldn't solve the reflux, either.
My first child was like your baby. We went crazy, it was a nightmare, and
we had no basis of comparison, so we didn't know what was wrong - her
or us. She cried continuously, even in her sleep, for six months, then
began to get a whole lot better. Then she had a few little bits of
problems here and there with throwing up (but the pain was mostly over)
for the next six months to a year. Then she was someone who threw up
easily, like when she coughed a lot or cried too hard, and that lasted
another two years. Now she is four and a half and pretty much never
throws up, in the real sense of it. We just did the barium swallow
recently (last week) and she is normal, structurally. We did it because
she still (painlessly) brings up a chunk of food occasionally (we find her
chewing phantom food sometimes that she says came from her throat),
and we just wanted to be sure. So we would have done it for naught if
we had done it in infancy.
Now they have drugs which inhibit the biliousness and calm the other
symptoms. Ask your doctor if you can try them for awhile, because this
is such an important time for bonding and being together, and as you
say awake alert time! Some doctors will prescribe these drugs for a year
or more, and I know some people who have done that - but the problem
is the child builds up a resistance to the drugs, and you have to keep
increasing the dosage; and also, though I have no evidence for this, it
seems like the child has little chance of getting over it themselves, so the
reflux lasts longer. So if you can use it for a few months and then
gradually grit your teeth and ease off on the drugs, that might be the best
route, depending how you feel about long-term drug use.
The most soothing things are breast milk and, when your child gets old
enough, solid food. This is I think what started the turnaround for our
daughter. We did not have much luck with the old idea of putting a little
cereal in the breastmilk, it really didn't seem to make much difference.
I feel for you, I really do. All I can say is it will pass. Try to minimize
intervention and be there for your child, and use the drugs if you need
to. One of the best things in my life was when my daughter finally began
to get better (and it happened pretty quickly), she was SO HAPPY to no
longer be in pain that she was a joy to be with - smiley, happy, joyful -
and has continued to be that way to this day, a very special child who
seems to light up everyone elses' lives.
Good luck to you!
I have not been through life with a colicky newborn, but I have
friends who have, and in your place I would be pressing the
doctor for more help. You know this isn't normal, even
for ''fussy'' or colicky babies, so start searching for the
cause. Consult another pediatrician if necessary. Your baby
could have an undetected infection or illness of some kind, or
could be severely intolerant of dairy or something else in your
diet. If you're lucky, it will turn out to be ''just'' really bad
colic and will disappear in another month or two, but you don't
want to wait that long if it turns out to be something you could
solve with earlier treatment!
You have described my son almost exactly. He would cry for
hours on end, at different times of the day and night and
didn't smile for the first 3 months. Car rides and the tummy
football hold seemed to help comfort him at times, but nothing
was foolproof. I too was concerned that he was not spending any
time soaking in his environment and learning, and that all his
crying was interfering with our bonding. I finally bonded with
my son when he was about 6 months old, after we had several
months of good quality time together and I was over the trauma
of having a colicy baby. Now, my son is 2 years old and he's
great. Super sweet and fun to be with, he laughs all the time
and is a very happy kid. I love him more than words can
describe and there is no doubt in my mind that the feeling is
mutual. And although he hit some developemental milestones
late, I doubt it had anything to do with his colic. He's very
observant, learns things quickly and is a normal little kid. In
the meantime, I encourage you to take time away from your baby
because it can be very draining to be around a constantly
crying baby. When you can't comfort him, put him in the crib
and sit on your front porch. Don't feel bad about doing this,
you are not neglecting him- you are saving your sanity. My son
cried just as much whether we held him or not. And don't bother
talking to parents who have never had a colicy baby because
they will just make you feel bad by saying, ''all babies cry'' -
they just don't understand the extent of it. My son's crying
disappeard within a week at a about 3 1/2 months of age. I have
no idea what caused it or what made it stop, but he also
started sleeping through the night around the same time. Could
lack of good quality sleep cause colic? or visa versa? Good
luck and hang in there, it will pass.
I am Postpartum Doula with extensive experience with newborns.
One aspect of my practice that has been especially beneficial
is infant massage. I have taught parents this special way to
soothe and communicate with their infants for 20 years. Dr
Harvy Karp's book and DVD, The Happiest Baby on the Block, also
has many helpful ideas.
I would enjoy speaking with you about ways that I might help
you settle your baby. You call me at 510-847-9743 or email.
It's important to keep in mind that a baby that's four weeks
early, is much younger than his chronological age -- probably by
more than four weeks. My premie did the same thing, and the
doctor kept being reassuring until one day the baby(at 8 weeks)
did the screaming in the office, at which point the doc
prescribed some medicine that we used for about two months. By
then her digestive track had matured and she calmed down. Still,
it wasn't until 7 or 8 months that she was like other babies (or
at least the high-need ones) in terms of crying. The good side
is, now as a school age kid, she's smart and healthy and doesn't
seem to be showing any after effects of those early troubles. I
remember feeling so flustered at my mother's group meetings when
she was always crying. There is medication the doctor can give
you to calm down the pains a baby with an immature digestive
system has, but they probably won't unless they hear the baby
scream themselves. You could try pressing the doctor to check
the baby out further. This will pass, but it's really hard to
have an inconsolable baby.
Your child may have reflux (GERD), which can exist without
projectile vomiting and is very painful even when moderate.
Plus, it can damage the esophagus. You should get in to see a
gastroenterologist as soon as possible. Some pediatricians are
not very experienced with or knowledgeable about GERD and
dismiss the symptoms as “merely colic.” Maybe all colic is
GERD, and colicky kids are needlessly left to suffer, along with
their parents. There are good pediatric gastroenterologists at
UCSF and Children's Hospital in Oakland, where we went. The
drugs they use to treat GERD, especially Reglan, helped a lot.
(Prilosec did not help as much.)
Also keep baby upright at least 1/2 hour after feeding (swings
are useful for this, and later an exersaucer). Use the football
hold when they are small - their head in crook of your elbow,
your hand in their crotch with the heel putting pressure on
their stomach, bouncing a little if it helps. When older you
can hold them facing out in front of you against your stomach
with your hand again in their crotch putting pressure on the
stomach, and also try sitting them on your leg while you are
seated, bouncing them up and down gently. Another thing that
helps is to put the child in the front pack right after a
feeding and walk around with him/her, that way there is the
jiggling of movement and being upright. Try giving them a
bottle of weak chamomile tea before naps. If you are nursing,
it also helps to drink a lot of chamomile tea yourself. Let the
baby sleep as much as possible, and feed when they wake up not
right before they would go to sleep.
I found gripe water helped, but only the Indian kind made by
Woodward’s (different formula from the Mother's brand). You can
get Woodward’s at Indian grocers such as Vik’s in Berkeley.
Mylanta helped a lot too, or we would grind Tums into a fine
powder and mix it with water. There used to be a Children's
Mylanta but it was taken off market - there may be a medical
reason so I would check with an MD. The kind marketed for kids
now has a different formula from the adult version, and doesn’t
seem to work as well.
We also tried Nutramigen, soy formula and another special,
expensive formula, as well as thickening the formula with rice
cereal. The only formula that seemed to help was Carnation Good
Times. If you’re breastfeeding, avoid kale foods that produce
gas (cabbage, broccoli etc.), and beans/lentils etc. I am
lactose intolerant myself and only drank Lactaid milk/didn't
have cheese or much other dairy in my diet, so lactose was not
the issue for us, but it might be for you. It can take 2 weeks
to rid your body of dairy if that's the problem, so you won't
see complete relief for a while. You might also experiment with
other foods that could be a problem (gluten [wheat, barley, rye,
oats], nuts, caffeine, spicy, high fiber foods). Milk protein
allergy is another possibility that should be checked out,
though it is rare. You have my sympathies - this is very
difficult and can go on a long time. It abated for us around 14
Survived reflux/colic x 2
this page was last updated: Mar 4, 2007
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