When you have a baby, you expect that there will be a lot of nappy changes, a lot of broken sleep, a lot of crying and a lot of cuddles… When you have a baby with colic, you get all of the above, just with a hell of a lot more tears and screaming, and it feels like you can’t do anything right, but you don’t know what you’ve done wrong!
No one really knows what colic is! Some babies will have a “witching hour”, where they cry for no reason for an hour or so, and then usually flake out and go to sleep. Colic is similar, however, it’s usually in the evenings, and it can last for hours on end. It seems to be trapped wind, but even if you can get baby to release some wind, they keep crying – it’s heartbreaking!
When Olivia was a week old, she started showing signs of colic. It would start at about 7pm, and we wouldn’t get to sleep until nearly 2am every night, but then once we’ve settled her and managed to get to sleep ourselves, she’d be awake again at 4:30am wanting a bottle.
In the first couple of weeks with Olivia having colic symptoms, we used Infacol. Which, if you’ve not used it or you’re thinking of using it, is a medicine that comes with a dropper that you give to baby before every feed. It tastes a bit like oranges and it’s a progressive medicine that works over time. Basically, it helps baby to release any trapped wind. Even though Infacol did help with her wind, we found that she still cried and screamed between 7pm and 1am every night. It was almost as if she was in pain, but we’d have no idea how to help her.
Andy and I would take it in turns to settle Olivia and get her to sleep each night in the first month. Luckily, he took the whole of December off work, 2 weeks maternity and 2 weeks holiday. It got to the point where we’d manage to get Olivia to sleep in the very early hours, and whoever’s turn it was would end up in tears because we felt like we couldn’t do our job as a parent. It really gets you down, you feel absolutely useless because you can’t help your baby and they don’t understand that you’re trying to help them.
After trying Infacol, we added Colief Infant Drops into the medicine cabinet. Colief Infant Drops works by breaking down the sugar enzymes to make the milk easier on babies digestive systems. You add a few drops of Colief directly into the milk formula. We tried it for a couple of weeks, and it did seem to help at the start, but over time, we still found that Olivia was unsettled and we would have to stay awake until gone midnight until she was asleep. And at £11.99 for a 7ml bottle (or 15ml for £16.99!!) I thought it was extortionate for it not to work 100% how I hoped it would. (There are other versions available, store brands)
So, by this point, Olivia would have been nearly 6 weeks old. We took her off Infacol completely because she was no longer having problems with bringing up wind. We axed Coleif because of how expensive it was and because she wasn’t crying constantly for 6 hours anymore, she was just unsettled and struggled to relax and fall asleep. We moved onto gripe water, as and when it was needed. I think we only used it a handful of times before we gave up on that because she seemed to go back to how she was at a week old, like she was in pain all evening.
I spoke to the health visitor after a very bad day. Olivia cried for nearly 18 hours and I just didn’t know what to do anymore. Andy had gone back to work, and I didn’t want to admit to my family or friends that I was really struggling. The health visitor suggested taking her to the doctors to make sure she was ok in health and if the doctor was happy with her, to try changing onto a comfort milk. So, after the doctor checked her, he said she had a bit of a cold which could be causing her to be unsettled, but otherwise he was happy with her health, and no stomach issues. We moved onto Aptamil Comfort (colic & constipation), and also started swaddling at night and through the night because we read that it helped with calming unsettled babies. A few days after we made the changes, it was almost like we had a different baby!
Olivia is now 13 weeks old, and you would never believe what she was like as a newborn if you met her now. Gone are the days of staying up until 1am, rocking her in our arms until we were in pain but not being able to put her down because she would scream. We don’t even do night feeds at the minute, and haven’t done for the last 6-7 weeks because she sleeps for 8 hours at night now (swaddled!)
If you have a baby that is suffering from colic, personally, I would recommend changing to Aptamil Comfort (or any other brand with a comfort style milk if you’ve started feeding on a different brand from birth), and I would also recommend trying to swaddle. We first started swaddling Olivia in a muslin, just temporarily and only on her bad nights. But when we realised how much we valued our sleep and how much more chilled out Olivia was after a good night sleep, we got an actual swaddle for her.
In my next post, i’ll tag a few products that I use or have used to help Olivia settle, sleep and smile.