Tuesday, May 3, 2011

taming the colic monster

Dakota has colic. Somewhere around 5:00 in the afternoon our cute baby gets taken over by a crazy, screaming, chicken-head bobbing creature. At two months old, it's not as severe as it was at one month, but it is still hard to deal with. I dread getting home from work at 6:15 and walking into a crazy house.

Reading articles that talk about how there is no remedy for colic is depressing, but somewhat misleading. No, you can't cure colic. I've come to terms with that. Eventually it will go away (Of course, everything that I read said that it disappears around three months, but my doctor informed me oh-so-nicely that sometimes it lasts until 6 months).

In an effort to keep from going crazy, we've found some things that help- not cure, but help:

1. Reading The Happiest Baby on the Block. While I was pregnant with Dakota I found this book at Arc for 39 cents- I think some angel knew that I was going to walk in there and say, "So cheap! What the hell." Thank you angel. Even though my doctor had something to say on Dr. Harvey Karp's "pseudo-science", he agreed that the methods that he outlines in the book do work.

Karp outlines the "5 S's System" in detail: Swaddling, Side/Stomach position, Shushing, Swinging and Sucking. Sometimes all at once!

2. Using the Moby wrap. I know I have said this before, but Moby, you are a god-send. It can be a pain to put on at first, but you get used to it. Now I can put it on and have her snuggled inside in under a minute. I think she likes the wrapped tight feeling- so secure. She can rest her face on my chest and feel my heart beat. Almost as good as being in the womb!

You can also go on with your life since your hands are free- ESSENTIAL, especially if you have other children. Or want to eat. Or go to the bathroom. You get the drift.

3. Shushing. Making loud- sometimes very loud- shushing noises in her ear. Dr. Karp talks about how the womb is a noisy place, and this reminds them of being in the womb. Vacuuming does the same thing, but who can vacuum for hours at a time? Who would want to?

4. Music. Calming music- New Age seems to work best (thanks Soundscapes channel!). I also love the Rockabye Baby series- because I actually enjoy listening to it too.

5. Singing. My voice is horrible, and I really don't know any lullabies, but Dakota doesn't seem to care. I make up silly songs about washing the dishes or how I'm going to bang my head against the wall and as long as I have a soothing voice, it's all good.

6. Swaddling. This worked well during her first month. I like the Summer Infant Organic swaddler, since it has velcro and I have never been good at doing a tight swaddle with blankets.

7. Swinging. We found a used swing at Once Upon a Child for Luna, who never really liked it, but we are definitely getting our moneys worth with Dakota. Very useful when you want to do things like take a shower, get dressed, or play with boiling water (all things you should NOT do with the Moby...).

Tip: always have extra batteries on hand for when they run out at 11:30 at night or during a blizzard. Because they will.

8. Walking. I get Dakota in the Moby and walk. I've tried dancing, bouncing, spinning, and marching, but she seems to like walking the best. I walk until she falls asleep. Sometimes I line dance (walk in a square), and she seems to like that as well. Bonus: Exercise!

9. Being in the kitchen. Why? I don't know. I thought it was the light, but my dad suggested the other day that maybe the smell is comforting. Could be- newborns have a highly developed sense of smell. I spend a lot of time cooking, so perhaps she remembers the smells and the sounds from when she was in the womb. So when she is really crazy, throwing her in the Moby and going to cook or do some dishes almost always calms her to sleep.

10. Warm bath. This is something new that we are trying- we both spend some time unwinding in a warm bath together. I don't know if it helps overall, but I do know that she is smiling and not crying when we are in the bath. Plus, it's great bonding time!

11. Sucking. Pacifiers are great. I know I will be cursing them in about a year when she won't give them up, but that is something that I am willing to deal with (Remind me in a year that I said that)!

12. Taking a break. I think this one is the most important. At the moment when you are ready to throw the baby (or better yet, before that moment hits), take a break. If your partner is there, hand the baby off and leave the room for a couple of minutes. Breathe. If no one is there, it's still okay to just set the baby down in a safe place and walk away for a couple of minutes. Call someone and tell them how you're feeling- sometimes talking can help you feel much better, especially if it's another mama friend who knows exactly what you are feeling.

Better to take a break and leave the baby crying than do something horrible to the baby. I never could understand how people could harm a baby until I experienced first hand what it's like to be sleep-deprived and in possession of a baby who is seemingly possessed by the devil. Always take a break.

Notice that riding around in the car is not on this list. First, it doesn't always work, and second, just because she is asleep in the car doesn't mean she'll stay that way. Third, and most important, have you seen how much gas is these days?!? Plus, my daughter does not need to contribute to our shrinking ozone layer. Walking works just as well, if not better.

As I write this, Dakota is asleep in her swing (I almost don't even dare write that in case I am jinxing myself). It took me 2 hours of work to get her there, but this beautiful silence was worth it...

1 comment:

  1. I totally understand...Griffin lived in his swing and Hunter lived in her Jolly jumper...they both had colic..it sucked big time. You absolutely can put them in their crib and walk away. G slept on his stomach (back before that was a big no no in the pediatric world) and it seemed to help - and Hunter, when she wasn't jumping or sleeping in her jolly jumper liked to be on her tummy too...something about the pressure. Find that Gripe water!!! I will see if I can get some and send it to you. It works wonders.


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