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Help mama of colicky newborn and young toddler who doesn't understand...

4298 Views 9 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  jaidymama
I have a five week old ds who is "colicky" for lack of a better term. Basically, for reasons unknown at this time, he cries for up to 90% of his waking hours. I have an 18 month old ds who for the first three weeks was tremendous. He was patient, he occupied himself, helped me out, etc. He never complained or cried about any of it. Well, he reached his breaking point. For the past two weeks, he has been very whiny and clingy. When the baby cries, my toddler will shriek or scream and tense his fists as if to say "MAKE IT STOP!!" The other day we were in the car (a rare occurrence), and baby was crying...toddler screamed fiercely and then passed out asleep....he hasn't slept in the car in over 6 months!!

Believe me, I am not complaining about my toddler's clinginess or whining. I want to help him and help him understand. I do my best to be present for him when baby is napping. I try to take baby out of the room sometimes to give his ears a break, but I don't want toddler to feel like the baby is taking me away from him.

Yesterday, the three of us were all crying on the couch together!

Does anyone have any advice or btdt experiences??
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My advice would be to figure out why baby is crying. Have you thought about trying reflux meds? Have you changed your diet? I remember AJ screaming too and covering his ears in the car b/c of Evan's crying (he was my 1st reflux and very allergic baby). They are 18mos apart and thankfully AJ wasn't overly bothered. Could SO take baby a little in the evenings so you could spend some one on one time w/ your toddler?
If you don't have it already, go out and immediately buy Dr. Harvey Karp's The Happiest Baby on the Block. Karp explains that most "colic" is caused by a baby basically missing the womb environment, unless there is an underlying physical cause, ie. reflux. He gives excellent techniques, such as snug swaddling and whilte noise, for making a newborn feel more comfortable in the world.

Good luck to you!
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Oh Heather, I'm so sorry to hear you're having a hard time
. I don't have any advice for your original question, but I'm with the pps -- thinking the best course of action is to try to help your baby with the colic. I know sometimes kids just have colic, and nothing helps even when the parents have tried everything. I also remember how overwhelmingly exhausted I was ... the thought of reading books or trying to find a doctor or any kind of healer who could help me ... I just didn't have the strength. I can't imagine being in that position with a toddler to care for too

I'm sure you've already tried some things to help your baby ... do you want to run through them briefly, so you're not inundated with a bunch of suggestions to try things you already have?

In the meantime, I'll list some things that come to mind:

If you're interested in Happiest Baby on the Block, I'd suggest seeing if your library has the DVD (mine does). It's much easier and shorter than reading a book, and you can also visually see his swaddling style, etc.

Allergies, reflux, gas or some other kind of digestive upset are certainly something to consider. You could try an elimination diet; I did the Dr. Sears one because dd was so gassy, and although it didn't help us, I lost all of my pregnancy weight
. I always try to get to the root of the problem, though, instead of just treating the symptoms, so I kept searching. DD has had digestive issues her whole life, and we've had the best success treating them with homeopathy, herbs and probiotics (all from our homeopath). I'll give some references later in case you're interested.

Another thought is birth trauma. That's what happened to us -- dd was deep suctioned due to meconium staining, and it caused an oral aversion and she cried whenever she nursed. I wrote about it in detail on my blog, which you can read here if you want. What finally helped was chiropractic care (to this day, I still don't know what she did) and craniosacral therapy (both of these can also help with digestive issues, too).

Have you tried any crying in arms? There's a great article in Mothering on this; you can read it here: It has also been discussed on these forums before; you can read some of those threads here and here.

How NE in Ohio are you? I know Toledo, for example, is only about an hour away from here. If you're within driving distance of Metro Detroit, I can recommend some really fabulous healers in this area, and I don't think you'd have to be driving here every day for months on end (our chiro, for example, said she rarely has to see kids more than 3 times (and charges $30/session); and dd released her birth trauma in about 4-5 CST sessions (also $30/session)). My homeopath sees dd about once a month, and she's more expensive.

If you would like to look for someone close to home, here are some references for that:

You can find a craniosacral therapist through this site (click on "Find a Practitioner"):
When you search in your area, you'll be able to see the courses everyone has taken. At a bare minimum, the CS therapist should have CSI, CSII, SERI (somatoemotional release) and CSP (the pediatrics course). I have also learned that regardless of training, not all CS therapists are equal. If you're not happy with the one you're seeing, then find someone else.

For chiropractic, you can search this site:
Our chiro is different from any I've ever seen before, though, and I'm sold on her approach. She practices upper cervical correction (, although she also does CST and is very holistic, etc., which won't necessarily be the case with all the chiros listed on that site. And the same holds here as with the CST ... if you're not getting results, keep looking. I took dd to one chiro for a few months with little improvement before switching to the one who really helped us.

We were initially introduced to homeopathy through a holistic pediatrician (MD who was also trained in CST, acupuncture, homeopathy, etc.). I know she is a member of this site (, but I can't speak to the other practitioners who are listed there (e.g., do they have the same qualifications she does, etc.). But it would be a place to start. When she moved too far away, I started taking dd to see my homeopath (who I found through the holistic ped), and I actually like her better. Sadly, I don't know how to help you find someone like her. She is the most amazing healer I've ever met in my life, and is so much more than a homeopath (here's her website if you want to check it out: I've asked her in the past if she knows of people in other areas doing the work she does, and sadly she does not.

If you want more info or need a shoulder to cry on, feel free to PM me. If I can help in any way, let me know. I would be more than happy to direct you to the people we see here, or even help you find someone in your area as best I can.

I hope things are better soon
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Have you tried empathizing with your toddler so he can hear his thoughts & feelings put into words? It sounds like you are both already doing an amazing job. I know I have wanted to scream MAKE IT STOP! too!!! As a mom of a former "colic" baby (who just "Came out of it" after a few months of trying "everything") it really helped me to be able to talk to people about it.

You could try saying things like "It makes me so sad that I can't help him when he cries. It really hurts my ears & gets fustrating! Let's go outside & see if that helps him settle." to help your toddler understand it's ok to not want to hear the crying & see that you are looking to find a solution too. Your toddler is learning what real unconditional parenting looks like, what a lucky kid!!!

Hope things get better soon!!!!
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Our family was in this boat a couple of years ago. My two DDs are only 14 mos apart, and when #2 was born, she had major colic - screaming (not even crying sometimes) for 21-22 hours at a time, sleeping for 2, and then starting the cycle again.

Here is what I can tell you:

1) For a baby with no underlying health issues, Karp's Happiest Baby stuff works. For a colicy baby, forget it.

2) There are a number of avenues you can follow to find the root of your baby's crying. Every baby is different though, so what may work for others, may not work for you. Just keep trying, you'll find the right combo. (For ours, we found a combination of things helped from Baby Bliss' Gripe Water, reflux medication, infant colic massage, eliminating milk from my diet since I was breastfeeding, keeping her in a sling during most waking hours, putting a sash of lavender and chamomile near her bed, and putting her to sleep on in incline in her car seat for several months. Note, these helped - as in they let her sleep for 4 hours at a time rather than 2, and the crying went down to about 10 hours a day, but the only real cure was time.)

3) I had several days on the couch with all three of us girls crying. It's hard, and impossible to explain to a younger sibling (at that age especially). Know that it will pass and your baby will grow into a happy, smiling toddler - I promise!

4) The most important thing I found was just getting support. Can you find someone (grandparents, etc.) to take your toddler out for a "break" maybe to the park, or a playdate? Even a babysitter to maybe watch your toddler for a few hours in the afternoon can help.

5) Support for you is also so helpful. There were days where all I heard was infant screaming from morning to night and so longed for an adult conversation. I found a supportive group of women by chance about six weeks into our colic experience, and they were so patient, understanding, and wanting to help in ways that my other friends who had never had colicy baby could ever understand. I know it is easy to stay inside, away from the public because if listening to your baby is hard for you, it must be torture to for others to listen. But, take a risk, you might be surprised who you meet, and what they're willing to do for you.

As one mom told me, she went to a restaurant with her husband and a colicy infant. Within 15 minutes, an 80 year old woman walked up to her and offered to rock the baby and pace by their table until the couple finished their lunch - something I think people can't possibly understand who don't have a truly colicy experience. The old lady told the couple, "I'd recognize the cry of a colicy baby anywhere and always offer to help when I can, having had a few colicy babies myself." The woman was so grateful that she vowed to do the same thing in the future whenever she could. As it turned out, she was a massage therapist, and upon hearing the cry of my infant, she offered to teach me a series of massage techniques she had specially researched for colicy babies for free.

My point is, there are people out there who have been through it before. Don't think you are isolated and alone in this experience. There is support out there for you. PM me if you want to talk more about it.

Good luck. Have patience. And, know it will pass.
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Thanks everyone for your advice and encouragement!

I know that I need to get to the root of the baby's crying, and we are doing everything we can. So far, we've tried reflux meds, gas remedies, gripe water, change in formula, etc etc etc. I am partially breastfeeding, but due to lack of supply, ds only gets about 20% of his diet from breastmilk. I assume that an elimination diet on my part won't fix the problem if he is on a milk based formula (since most suggest taking milk out of my diet.) BUT, the good news is that we very recently changed to a hypoallergenic formula, and after a few days we are seeing some relief. It may just be a fluke, but we're going to give it a chance and see if that's the ticket.

As for the Happiest Baby on the Block ...that stuff worked like a charm on my first son. When he was fussy, we could knock him out in a minute with those tricks! As for #2, those are things I use to get him to sleep, but I can't SHHHH and bounce 12 hours a day when he's in crying mode!

As far as my toddler though, he seems to go downhill as the baby gets better. I hope it will all even out as ds1 starts to get a bit more of my attention. I just feel so bad for both boys. I feel like I can't be the best mother to either of them. If ds1 were a little older I could explain this to him, but for now, I am just wiping his tears to get him through it. My real fear is that this very short amount of time during the beginning of the baby's life is going to shape how my toddler thinks of his younger brother for the rest of their lives. I would hate for their to be resentment because the first 2,6 or 10 months of ds2's life was really hard on all of us.

Thanks again to all of you.
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Originally Posted by Heatherb917 View Post
My real fear is that this very short amount of time during the beginning of the baby's life is going to shape how my toddler thinks of his younger brother for the rest of their lives.
Well, I can't speak for that much later in life, but as I mentioned before, my girls are now 2 and 3 and the older one has no memory of her little sister as a baby. They get along as expected for siblings. Most of the time, wonderful, giggly, and close - and occasionally they squabble over toys, etc. Overall though, I don't think either can imagine life without the other right now - they are inseparable. My older daughter even loves new babies, and is looking forward to a new sibling - so I don't think there are any hard feelings about the hours and hours and hours of crying that took place in those early months. (And don't feel alone in your fears, I also felt guilty and worried about the same issues.)

Good luck in trying to figure out what is causing the crying. I know it can be really frustrating, and don't worry if the crying slows down one week, and picks up the next for no reason. We've been through it before and really, time is the only thing that will ultimately smooth things out.
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To help your toddler, is there anyone who can come and play with him or take him out to have some fun? Can someone watch the baby while the two of you have even a small amount of mommy time? It's great that he was able to be supportive at first, but he needs a break. He needs to be able to have moments of fun etc. Hearing a baby cry can be nerve racking for us moms and probably even so for your son. I think getting him out and having fun would help him.

For the long run, I think finding the cause of your little one's upset will help everyone! Some useful websites: and both have great suggestions about colic. From my personal experience, eating broccoli or citrus foods made things worse. And I also have heard that cow's milk can pass through the breastmilk and contribute to "colic" I think crying that much is not a good sign. Please be persistent with your research here and online, and dealing with your doctors (doctors can play pass the patient).

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Oh, and I've been reading "parenting through crisis" and it talks about all different kinds of family stresses... like when a family deals with one siblings cancer or something. The author points out that the healthy kids need to be able to have a normal life outside of the life of their sick sibling. Not that you have a terminally ill child... Just that your situation is stressful, and being as young as your first child is... well I just don't think he's going to completely understand. And even if he does understand, that doesn't mean that his feelings are invalid or that he shouldn't want what he wants. I'm not slamming you or your situation... that would be difficult. But somewhere in the equation your toddler's needs require attention. And so do yours
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