By Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Newborns
Are you a parent of a newborn who has colic? Dealing with daily bouts of crying that last three or more hours, it’s no secret that your infant is miserable—but what about you, the person who’s attempting to console the newborn, only to have your baby scream louder?
As difficult as colic is for a baby, it can be just as challenging for the parents
It’s heartbreaking to watch your new baby cry. This can be especially hard when nothing you do seems to help. It’s even more difficult if you have other kids to care for, you’ve returned to work, or you’re suffering from postpartum depression. Colic is taxing on your patience, energy and overall wellbeing. It’s frustrating especially because you feel helpless as your child cries endlessly. Colic is a mystery condition and nothing you’ve done has caused it, but it can lead to anxiety about your role as a parent and your ability to care for your baby.
There is no known exact cause of colic, and so there is no perfect remedy. While the crying won’t stop until your baby’s body matures, there are ways to control his tears and soothe his crying jags (see my previous article, Colic: Symptoms and solutions). Now let’s talk about things that can help you and your partner power through those difficult hours. Here are a few things you can do to take some of the stress out of these colicky situations:
Accept limited control
It’s crucial for your own sanity to understand that you’re not to blame for your baby’s condition—and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. Your baby will cry during colicky times, and while you can bounce, bathe or massage your baby to make him more comfortable, nothing you can do will totally stop the sobbing. This is not a result of anything you’ve done or not done, so don’t waste any time feeling guilty or like a “bad” parent. Colic is about biology, not parenting.
Pleasant in public
Plan fun outings and necessary errands for the times of day when your baby is usually happy. Alternatively, if trips to the park or grocery store keep your little one content, plan them for the colicky times. Colic most often occurs in the evening, when babies are worn out from the day’s activities.
Take a break
Avoid unrealistic expectations of yourself and ask for help when you need it. Take advantage of friend’s offer to take a turn with the baby, even if it’s just so that you can take a quiet bath or shower. When you take care of your needs, you’re better able to deal with your baby’s fussiness.
After days of not sleeping, it’s easy to forget the big picture and become overwhelmed by hours and hours of crying. If you feel yourself losing perspective, remind yourself that this is a short-term phase—colic doesn’t last forever, the tears will taper off soon.
Avoid keeping a long to-do list right now. Put off anything you can for when you have some time. Right now, your baby’s temperament needs to be your main focus.
Find other parents of colicky babies with help from your pediatrician, hospital or online forums. Often, parents of colicky kids feel isolated, so it’s important you have a place where you can share ideas and comfort each other.
Tame your temper
If the sobbing starts to make you tense or angry, put your baby in a crib, or give him to someone else to hold for a while so that you can calm yourself down. The excessive tears associated with colic could make anyone angry and frustrated, so it’s critical you don’t find yourself in a situation where you could accidentally shake your baby, which can be dangerous.
Stay in the moment
Just as the crying fits won’t last forever, your baby’s misery is short-lived. Babies don’t suffer long-term harm from having colic, so skip adding even more stress to your life by worrying about your baby’s long-term well-being. Do what you can to comfort him now, and the future will take care of itself.
Elizabeth Pantley is a mother of four, grandmother, and author of the bestselling book, The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Newborns plus 8 other books in the No-Cry Solution Series, which helps Moms and Dads through all key stages of parenting. Visit her at nocrysolution.com