All babies fuss and cry during the first several weeks. Some a little and some a lot.
Those that are on the extreme end of fussiness/colic can cause a parent to feel helpless, frustrated, and exhausted. Below a few guidelines to get you through the colic stage of your baby’s life and help you figure out when to check in with your health care provider.
The Number Three
If your baby needs soothing to prevent crying for more than three hours a day, for more than three days a week, for more than three weeks, they might be going through a colic stage.
Because there’s no real test or diagnosis for colic, it’s best to think of it as something your baby does not something your baby has. This state of mind, offers some assurance so you can focus on soothing your baby during this temporary bump in the road.
Comfort and Soothe
Babies with extreme fussiness/colic are going to need a little extra soothing. Don’t worry about screwing up your baby’s sleep habits either, there will be plenty of time for them to learn the skill of sleeping after they get past colic. Be prepared to soothe through constant holding, rocking, bouncing, breastfeeding. Whatever keeps fussiness and crying at a minimum and sleep at a maximum is best during this temporary fussiness.
Be mindful of your baby’s behavior and appearance. If your baby has any other unusual symptoms (blood or mucus in their poop, vomiting, not gaining weight, fever, rash, or other unusual behavior) it’s time to call your health care provider.
When it’s not colic
In most cases, colic only lasts until around 14 weeks. If your baby, and family, is continuing to struggle with extreme fussiness and crying after three months, it might be time to schedule a checkup with your local health care provider.
Having to go through the colic stage of your baby’s life can be really, really tough – especially for new parents who may have envisioned a more peaceful start to parenthood. It is perfectly normal to feel frustrated and exhausted when you are going through this. If you ever feel like you might lose control, gently place your baby in a safe place like their crib and step away. Leave the room. Take deep breaths. Cry. Call someone you trust like your spouse, partner, friend or relative. Never shake your baby, as this can cause permanent disability or even death.
Finding a local parent group or breastfeeding group can also be very helpful. You will likely find other moms and dads who have gone – or who are currently going – through the same thing. Your Healthy Futures nurse can also give you some ideas to help soothe your child.
The reassurance that, in many cases, “this too shall pass,” will empower you to stay positive, patient, and look forward to the next stage of your beautiful baby’s life.