I like to tell people that the best way to test your marriage is to have a colicky baby. This term has literally no meaning until you find yourself in this predicament, and when you do, you feel as if you have entered the fifth circle of Hell. 

My sweet baby boy cried every night around the same time during what some refer to as the "witching hour." His screams would last for hours and occur for no apparent reason. We were told that it was colic and that all we could do was "grin and bear it." 

I recently spoke with pediatrician Dr. Vanessa Dalton about some more constructive methods for handling this unbearable diagnosis. 

"The classic definition [of infant colic] is crying for no apparent reason, for three hours a day, for about three days a week. It usually starts flaring at about three weeks of age and it lasts until they're three months. It's pretty short, but it can be really extreme," Dr. Dalton stated.

Crying Baby
Photo by Ginny Rose Stewart on Unsplash

Now you may be thinking, 'babies cry, so what's the big deal?' The difference between a fussy baby and a colicky baby is that the colicky baby is warm, dry, fed, has gotten ample sleep, has had a relaxing bath, they are swaddled and you've been sitting and rocking them in a dark, relaxing room. Every single reason for why this child could be upset has been addressed to no avail. 

Unfortunately, colic is a condition that has no definitive cause. Doctors theorize that these inconsolable outbursts could be related to reflux, growing pains or even infant migraines. The trouble is that it's very hard to diagnose when the patient has no way to articulate their pain. Dr. Dalton notes that the best way to address this issue is by treating possible triggers. 

Baby Formula
Photo by Lucy Wolski on Unsplash

"A lot of these colicky babies do pretty well on probiotics. Sometimes I’ll put them on a hypoallergenic diet," she said. For those formula-fed babies, there are many formulations that your doctor can recommend. If you're breastfeeding, then talk to your pediatrician about cutting dairy and soy out of your diet to see if that helps to remedy the issue. Gas drops can also provide some relief.

These can be very effective methods for relieving some of your child's symptoms if their tummy is the trigger. The other thing to remember is that it's okay to take a break. Put your baby in their empty crib or bassinet, close the door and take a moment to compose yourself. I can tell you firsthand that a colicky baby is physically and mentally draining. 

Finally, Dr. Dalton stresses that you should always check with your pediatrician before immediately concluding that your baby has colic. 

"If you have a fussy baby and you're worried at all, bring them in and let your pediatrician talk to you about it. If they do have colic, then you can start talking about some solutions. [However,] there are some very serious medical issues that can also cause fussy babies," she said. Therefore, it's always wise to check with your doctor first.

Lastly, remember that this phase will pass and you will survive. Don't be afraid to ask family and friends to step in when you are getting to a breaking point. It takes a village, and sometimes you'll need a helping hand.

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