Monday, August 6, 2012

Babywise and Colic

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In just three children and five pregnancies, I have experienced a whole lot of what parenthood can throw at you. I have the terrible pregnancies. I have lost a baby. I have had a reflux baby. I have had three different  personalities among my children. I have had the chronic 45 minute napper as well as the perfect sleeper. I have had the baby with eczema. I had the picky eater and the child who will eat anything. The reason I can write about so much on this blog is because I have experienced so much.

This is not lost on me--as well as on many of my friends. They like to point out that I need to experience it all so I can write about even more topics. As I moved forward with getting pregnant with my latest baby, I reflected on the experiences I have had, but mostly on the ones I have not had. While I have experienced much, I have most certainly not experienced it all. 

And that is scary--because there is much more to experience out there.

Twins was one of my first concerns--I wanted twins before I ever had a baby, but I am now wise enough to understand that pregnancies and babies are easiest one at a time. I know, I would find much joy in twins if they came my way, but it isn't something I feel up to necessarily. An early ultrasound cleared me of that concern. 

Reflux is always a concern of mine after having had a baby with reflux. As easy as Kaitlyn was in comparison to other babies with reflux, there are so many challenges associated even with an "easy" reflux baby. That is a road I have traveled and really hope to never face again--and I know the moms who have had babies with reflux know what I mean.

Another concern is colic. I think colic would be very challenging, and I especially think trying to handle colic while needing to care for three other children would be challenging. 

I am sure I am not the only one to feel a little nervous at the prospect of any of these three things, and once you are there, you need all of the help and advice you can get. Today, I will discuss the advice offered in Babywise on colic. I have asked two special guests to write on twins and reflux--they each have much experience in the respective area and I knew they could do a better job than I in conveying how to make it all work. Let's start today with colic.

1-Talk to a Doctor
Many things look like colic but are not actually colic. One thing that can make you think colic is reflux. There can also be gas, allergies, or other digestive issues. You want to be sure to rule out other factors--you don't want to be riding out "colic" if it is actually something that can be treated and relief can be brought to your baby.

2-Do What Works
Each baby is different. They will all like different things to help settle them some with colic. Bouncing, swaddling, white noise, pacifier, swings, medicine balls...I find it helpful to hear from lots of moms when finding what works for whatever I am solving with my kids. Do some reading and try the tricks that worked for people until you find what works for you.

3-Watch Your Diet
If you are breastfeeding, your diet can contribute to the problem. If you are formula feeding, I have heard from many moms saying formula type and brand can have an impact on baby.

4-Burp Frequently and Efficiently
Babywise states that colicky babies need to be burped frequently (page 161). Three years ago, a reader shared this method, the Towle Method, of burping. She loved it. 

5-Monitor Stimulation Levels Closely
Any baby can get overstimulated easily. A colicky baby is no exception and can be even more sensitive. See more on Overstimulation here. 

6-Take Care of You
Remember to take care of yourself. Accept help (ask for help if you need to). Getting away from the situation rejuvenates you and helps you to see the bigger picture of life. This can help give you strength to make it through another day.

What are your colic tips? What worked for your baby, you, and your family? Please share! It will help a future mom of a colicy baby.

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12 comments:

Megan Lubbers said...

Colic sucks. And usually nothing works to calm a baby with colic...so my advice is to set up a rotation of helpers. My oldest screamed from 6-midnight every night for the first 2.5 months. I didn't ask for much help because I wanted to stick to BW and I thought others wouldn't understand. I don't know what I was thinking because she didn't sleep during that time. All she did was scream no matter what we did. I wish we would have set up days with the grandparents. Like my mom could have come over one night a week and his mom another and maybe a friend for one more. My husband and I were just so tired and with her being our first we didn't sleep a whole lot even when she did finally go to sleep at night.

Violet1122 said...

My baby had colic for the first 6 months of his life. It was a nightmare. He screamed all of his waking hours, even through feedings. I know my example is an extreme case of colic, but the whole experience has scarred me to the point of being afraid to ever have another baby.

I know you are not a fan, but I think the thing that helped me the most was the Happiest Baby on the Block. I did the 5 S's constantly for those 6 months, and I think it did help him fall asleep sometimes. It also lessened the screaming into just crying many times.

I also liked the idea of schedules and routines as outlines in babywise. The schedules was more for me, though, since my baby never really could be on a schedule until the colic went away. Having a schedule for me though, helped me get through each day.

One of the unfortunate effects of colic is the negative associations that stick to the baby. My little one is a really sweet, easy toddler now... but I still have many friends and family members who think of him as "difficult". It really breaks my heart, and I hope the negative connotations don't follow him as he grows up. Sadly, if I ever did have another baby with colic, I would probably NOT seek out help from friends and family members, because I wouldn't want people to think badly about my baby later in life.

I think one of the most difficult things about colic is that there is really nothing you can do to fix it. It also makes you feel like you "missed out" on the newborn phase. I was never able to take him somewhere to get pictures, I was never able to snuggle with him peacefully in my arms, etc. I also spent a lot of time during the colic phase resenting my baby and being disgusted with him. I know that sounds awful, and I feel badly that I ever thought that way... but when you are in the middle of it, I do think it is normal to have those feelings.

I know my post seems like a big downer, but I do want to be bluntly honest about living with colic. I can say, though, that even as awful as his infancy was - he is such a great, sweet little boy now.

Tyler and Shea Moses said...

Colic! A word I cringe when I hear!

We dealt with a mild to severe case of colic with my 2nd daughter. It was awful. The most awful part being, that I felt like there was nothing I could do further to provide her comfort. I would have given my right leg to make her stop crying.

She cried for most of her waking hours, and honestly, I knew we would deal with it before we left the hospital with her. I remember turning to my husband and saying, "babe, I think we are in for it with her, if she is awake (which she was a lot for being 2 days old) she is crying." Her cry was unbearable. She was constantly uncomfortable.

I changed my diet. We bought all the expensive herbal/natural supplements. She would take a pacifier, but even that would not calm her long enough for substantial sleep. When she was 7 weeks old, she was literally awake for over 7 hours, crying for 6 hours and 58 minutes of it. I thought I was going to die a slow horrible death.

I now think back and wonder if that is as close as I'll ever be to somewhat understanding how God longs to be our peace and comfort and how it must hurt him deeply when we refuse him. He wants so badly for us to find refuge in him.

All of that to say, I never found anything that truly worked. I will say that trying to have a daily "routine" or schedule with a colic child is near impossible, but did the best I could, and even with colic we were able to get her STTN by 18 weeks (much later than most, but still better than what it could have been!)

6 days ago we had our 3rd baby girl. My biggest fear is that we will experience this again. So far, the little one has not been quite as difficult as our 2nd, but maybe not quite as easy as our 1st either.

I have learned to take each day in stride and still try to provide structure, while relaxing a little bit and enjoying each stage for what joys and challenges they bring.

Mrs. Bob said...

My second had colic and at the time it was a living nightmare. Having done Babywise with my oldest and he did so well on it I knew that I wanted to do it again. However colic throws everything off for the first four months.

A little known fact is that in the first six weeks colicky babies cry all the time, not just in the evening. Often people assume it is reflux. If you have tried different feeding methods such as formula or cutting out foods while breastfeeding, or tried reflux meds and your baby still cries it could be colic. After six weeks it peaks and starts decreasing, it usually occurs more in the afternoon and evening time until you see a real drop off point at twelve weeks. THE best book for colic is "Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child" this book saved my life. With colic help soothe the baby to sleep as much as you are capable of. Use anything that works too soothe. The last thing you want is for a colicky baby to get over tired. Let them sleep whenever and wherever. Feed them to comfort them if necessary, smaller feeds more frequently seem to help. Starting between 3-4 months if your baby isn't overtired then it shouldn't be too hard to establish them on a routine. My baby is now seven months and does great on his routine. Nobody that sees him could ever imagine that he was extremely colicky.

Now whether to have people help is entirely up to you. My mom and MIL helped a bit and that took some pressure off. However some people would try to help and constantly burp him, feed him, change him and ask me over and over again why he was crying. Nobody ever talks about colic and people always assume it is reflux. The best advice came from a neighbor who had a colicky baby. He said when it gets to be too much put the baby in the crib and walk away. I did this so many times. If nothing I did could calm him I would put him in his crib for 15-20 min, shut the door and walk away. I would help my toddler or make dinner. I figured if he was going to scream than he would be as happy in his crib as he would be shrieking in my ear in my arms. I also didn't let a lot of people that I didn't completely trust watch him because I was afraid of shaken baby syndrome by a babysitter. The thought of daycare paralyzed me.

I now tell everyone I meet about colic since I learned the most about it from my neighbor who had a baby with colic. In HSHHC it says that up to 25% of children are considered fussy or colicky. I just hope that my advice and experience can help another mom.

Jenny said...

While I was pregnant I prayed for a lot of things, one thing was for our daughter to not have Colic, but I also asked God that if she did have it that he would give myself and husband the patience and wisdom to make it through it.
Once she was here I quickly found myself changing to a non-dairy diet trying to alleviate gas pains for her. It didn't take long to also find that high in fiber foods (even potatoes) caused our little girl stomach pains. Changing my diet did help, but it was like clock work---5pm would roll around and she would be in a fit. For a while I tried to tell myself it was just the "witching hour" I had read about, but our hour went on for 5-6 hours. My husband called what we were dealing with "Colic" long before I did-I resented it. I was afraid some would say that we (mainly me) just didn't know how to comfort my own child, that I was a bad mother, or that our LO was just a "difficult" baby. When our little one was about 5 weeks old she cried so hard and so long her bellybutton actually opened up and bled till it was cauterized by the pedi. At the appointment was when the dr. confirmed what my hubby had been saying, we were dealing with Colic. We continued our adventure with Colic till our little one was about 4 1/2 months old (with the last 3-4 weeks gradually getting better. My hubby and I got pretty good coping. Here were our tricks:

1. Diet. Cutting out dairy and high in fiber foods--even potatoes.
2. Warm bath. No soap needed--just a sm. cup to pour the warm water over her belly continuously.
3. Not over feeding her. One of the best pieces of advice we got from the dr. was that milk might calm her for a min, but actually make it worse. Routine feeding was great for her and us.
4. Gripe Water---we never left home without a little cold pack and Gripe Water. (Even though it didn't help a ton-it took the edge off a bit.)
5. Rx. colic med---Eventually we got some and it was wonderful-just couldn't use it frequently.
6. Moby wrap---A friend of mine said it help her colicky baby a bit-and she was right!

We were really fortunate that our LO still started STTN at 8.5 weeks old. Every now and then she did wake us up an hour or two early with her Colic cry (and yes..there was a difference!) After some bicycle exercises and lots of swaying in the football hold she could go back to sleep till it was time to start our day.

Throughout our experience with Colic I was reminded of what I had prayed for. God always answers our prayers...and never gives us more than we can't handle-with Him! (1 Cor. 10:13)

Michael and Natalie said...

Dude I am SO grateful you guys are posting your experiences! Neither of my kids had colic (thank goodness) but I am just so grateful to hear other people sharing truly honest experiences.

Brittany Dickerson said...

My advice is to do whatever works for your baby- even if it means forgetting a babywise schedule for a while. My daughter was a screamer- any amount of discomfort or overstimulation would set her off. At 9 weeks she had slept three hours straight a handful of times. But that's it. I was exhausted and the crying was unbearable. Due to lack of sleep she started having night terrors and confusion arousals at that time. A local sleep clinic told me to do whatever I needed to do to get her sleep. For the next week she slept in bed with me for all naps and nighttime. I got her caught up and moved her to a cosleeper on her belly. Sleep was still hard to come by but giving up all sleep training was mentally the hardest part. At six months I was so tired I fell down the stairs holding her and broke my toe to keep from dropping her. We decided to revisit the sleep clinic and they gave us a gentle plan the sleep train. She started sleeping really well (for her) after that. We found out shortly after she has several dozen food allergies and sensitivities. Plus teething causes her to vomit from the pain. And she overheats very easily which can cause seizures. Controlling all those variables is hard, but at 20 months she is a decent sleeper and we finally are back on a babywise schedule. She has yet to go three weeks without waking up at night in her entire life but she naps well and rarely is overtired anymore. My son is now five weeks old and also has tummy trouble so I know this time not to worry about sleep training on his bad days. We work in falling asleep unassisted when he can and we do whatever is necessary the rest of the time- even bringing him to bed with me. We will sleep train eventually and he will be a good sleeper- eventually!

Brittany Dickerson said...

I forgot!!! Change how you pray. Instead of "God let her magically turn into the best sleeper ever!" try praying for patience, peace, and wisdom as you walk through the difficult time. And occasionally pray for better sleep. You can make up for a rocky beginning, even if you forgo independent playtime and some behavior training well into the toddler age. It took us until my daughter was 16 months to iron out all her food issues (who knew olive oil could cause such bad reactions!) but she is very well behaved and on a wonderful schedule now. Relax and do what you need to do! Mentally not following the rules is the hardest part but you will NOT mess up your child if your child is truly in pain and needs a different approach.

manymasons said...

My first baby was colicky and at that time he ended up on medication which I did not like and never wanted to try again if other children had colic.

My last baby (almost a year old now) was also very colicky and I started by going off of dairy which isn't too difficult with all of the non-dairy products out there now. I didn't notice much of a change and the screaming was consistent not seeming to be related to anything. Sleep training was not possible as he screamed so much that we ended up rocking him and burping quite hard. We have found that colicky babies calm easier with a hard rhythmic burping.

But with this baby I found something that actually helped! It is a type of gripe water but one that really does work called Colic Calm http://www.coliccalm.com/ The difference with this gripe water is the activated charcoal. It took at least a few days of it in his system before we noticed a change but baby was finally able to rest comfortably and screamed much less.

The second thing I found was to get to the root of the problem which is the digestive system. And so we started baby on baby probiotics. http://www.childrensprobiotics.com/ You give them in drop form daily which unfortunately can get pricey but worth it in the long run.

We also did take baby to the chiropractor.

So, there can be real relief for the colic.

Amanda said...

I shudder to even think the word "colic". There is absolutely nothing worse as a mom than to hear your baby screaming and writhing in pain with no apparent cause and no way to help him :(

Peter had colic and for him it was 100% caused by food allergies, and severe ones. I think a lot of people give up on the allergy idea after eliminating one food or all common allergy foods for just a couple weeks. It really takes 4-6 weeks of diligent label-reading to truly try an elimination diet. And most babies who are dairy sensitive are also sensitive to soy. Peter is actually far worse with soy than dairy, even now at 20 months. Even eating a cracker with soy lecithin in it can give him a rash, diarrhea, and cause night waking. He's also sensitive to bananas and orange juice, which is totally weird to me. So I recommend to anyone dealing with a colicky baby to try a true elimination diet or a hypoallergenic formula (not just soy as a default as that can be even worse). Once we got his allergies and subsequent reflux under control he was the happiest baby. Seriously went from 8+ hour screaming bouts and only sleeping on us to STTN 11 hours by 12 weeks and happily eating and playing and napping in his crib with no CIO even necessary.

Plowmanators said...

I really appreciate all of your advice and experience--thank you! I am sure it will be helpful to future moms. Thanks for taking the time to share.

Violet, my biggest issue with the Happiest Baby is the extensive delve into evolution and the newborn phase being a "4th trimester"--like I have said, I think his methods can be great, which is why the video (which I have watched) would be what a parent would really benefit from for colic so they can see the technique and not have to wade through the theory.

Brittany I loved what you said about prayer. Such good advice all around.

Holly said...

Great advice! I also loved the Happiest Baby, as one commenter suggested. It's not without it's flaws, but it was very, very helpful for us when not much else was.

Another thing I recommend to parents is to try giving their little on probiotics. It's not a cure-all, but if there is something digestive going on, the probiotics can't hurt (and in some cases help immensely).

When my daughter had colic, I implemented many of the Babywise principles. I had a notebook where I planned out our day...I didn't follow it exactly, but I did find just having a schedule of some sort gave some stability to our crazy lives!!

Holly
http://www.thefussybabysite.com

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