~ Colic ~

"Colic is stressful, tiring, and seemingly unending. But it does get better. It does go away. The main thing that they have to do is survive it... Colic is much harder on the parents than it is on the baby."

--twins-l member

This portion of the FAQ is dedicated to helping parents survive colic with their newborns. It is a compilation of advice that has been shared on twins-l. While numerous products have been recommended by different parents, this FAQ does not endorse any specific products.

This FAQ is not intended to replace medical advice from your doctor. Consult your doctor before trying any new treatment.

From One Parent To Another

Here are some words of wisdom from parents who have been there, done that and lived to tell about it!

Hang in there!

  • "1st of all, this too shall pass---the twin credo!!"

  • "Keep trying, it *will* get better!"

Keep trying new things!

  • {after trying a variety of techniques} "All of these worked but she would get used to one and we would switch."

  • "...while it's going to be little to no comfort, and little help, there is nothing [a parent] can do to cure this condition. There are some treatments that may seem to help for short periods of time."

  • "Try just about any old wives tale that [you] hear of as a possible cure for colic."

  • "So try anything that works, sounds, vibrations, running water, holding. Whatever it takes. If it means that one of you has to walk the floors all night carrying the baby so the other can sleep, then do it. And keep repeating the colic Mantra. It goes away, It goes away, It goes away."

Take care of yourself too!

  • "Above all else, take a break for yourself! I nearly went insane being at home with a screaming child the entire day. Arrange for someone to come relieve you periodically so you can mentally recover. Even if it's taking a drive or a walk around the block."
  • "The only advise that I can give that will mean anything is by all means, and at whatever cost. Get Away!! Get someone to sit with the baby and get out of the house. Go somewhere and have a quiet meal together and then sleep. Even if for just a few hours. But warn whoever is sitting that the baby has colic and that he will most likely cry the whole time you are gone. Relatives are your best shot."

  • "I was very disturbed when my wife got a hold of a pediatric reference book and it had 8 pages of small font information about colic. The first 2 pages dealt with the baby and things to do to help them. (nothing that hasn't been suggested so far) The other 6 pages dealt with the effect of colic on the parents and what they could do to survive it. This book was of the opinion that colic isn't something that happens to the baby. It's something that happens to the parents, via the baby."

  • "You are so right about the fact that colic isn't traumatic for the child, but it can sure wreak havoc for the parents. We hired a wonderful community college student to come to our house for three hours twice a week simply to hold [our daughter] in that [favorite] position. We were so desperate that we were willing to pay someone to hold the child a couple of times a week to give us a break, and we are so glad we did it. I know not everyone can afford to do this, we were barely scraping by as it was, but for the break in the colic that it gave us, it was some of the best money we've ever spent. The amazing thing about crying babies is that it seems to affect the parents much worse than others who help out. I know that I don't mind helping out a friend with a screaming baby because for some reason it doesn't get to me as badly as it did with my own children."

  • "I remember reading (off this list) an experienced Mom's answer to someone's question about crying babies (sorry I don't remmber who to give credit to) at about the time my boys were the same age. She said it's o.k. to put them in a safe environment (crib/playpen) and walk away to take care of yourself. You can't meet their needs every single second. We all know we try our hardest to keep our little ones happy but sometimes you simply need a break, even if it's only for ten minutes. I look at it this way, it's better to walk away and come back calm and loving then trying to deal with it and not be the loving, kind Mom we all want to be."

It won't be this way forever.

  • "One morning [you will] look at [your child] and wonder what happened. he will be happy and smiling and the colic will be gone. And it will happen that fast. In about a 24 hour period [the child] will suddenly seem to change personality."

Know that others have survived.

  • "I can really relate to your problems. Our b/b twins went through the same thing for several months (and still have their moments now). They would both start screaming at about 8pm - right when I had to get my daughter to bed, of course, and sometimes continue til midnight."

  • "I was home alone a couple nights a week and had to deal with this alone (daughter crying in bed for me, babies screaming in the living room) - if the rocking didn't work after 30 min or so, I just gave up and went into the bedroom with my daughter - I needed time alone with her. And let me tell you, I was really thinking LOVELY thoughts about my husband at these times. We too have had some relationship problems since the birth of the twins (even since the birth of our daughter) ... I know the best thing for problems like this is communication, but that's hard to do when you're holding a grudge against someone and are probably feeling guilty about it and mad at yourself for feeling guilty, etc...

    "Things do get easier though - at some point they stopped getting so frantic - and I really wonder if we were frustrated because of their fussing - or if they were fussing because of our frustration with everything...

    "Anyway, when we told people about our problems, everyone just said - oh, evening, that's the _____ hour (fill in any negative adjective you can think of - witching, suicide, etc). But we didn't think they really understood what we were going through.

    "Please know that you're not alone in this experience, and that we have managed to make it to the 1 year mark with the twins, marriage fairly intact :-)."

Colic Table of Contents

Mycelon, Phazyme & Other "Magic Potients"

Parents have tried a variety of over the counter drops or other mixtures with mixed results.

  • "We used mylicon drops and they seemed to work."

  • "Mylicon drops. Give it as often as you need to! Many times a day! It helps expel gas."

  • "There are some over the counter drops that are supposed to help. I can't remember the name, they were very expensive, and didn't help either of ours."

  • "Ask your Dr.., but Phasyme saved our sanity completely. I think Mylicon drops are similar if not the same. We were told we could administer up to 10 or so times a day, and we administered that stuff a LOT!! It was immediate relief for our daughter. (and us)"

  • "Then at two months old a stranger in the store after watching her for a half hour while we shopped asked us if we had tried putting karo syrup in her formula? We checked with the doctor and he said that a teaspoon per 4 ozs wouldn't hurt her, and heck, what did we have to lose. It actually seemed to to help a little bit. So we stayed with it. Her colic ended at 5 months. We were still putting karo syrup in her formula at 13 months. We were afraid that if we stopped the colic would come back. (I'm not joking)"

  • "My mom said that when she had colicky babies they had something in the drugstores that helped with this.... not Mylicon which never worked for me, but they don't make it anymore. Some sort of peppermint oil. So, instead we would boil up some water and drop a peppermint candy (like you get from Pizza Hut) into the bottom of the bottle and let it melt. Once it is cooled, give them about an ounce of it and try burping them. This seems to help bring the gas bubbles up and out... which is a lot of what colic is. Though this didn't work like a magic potion and solve the colic totally, it sure helped. Good Luck!"

  • "What we found worked really well for our little ones was to boil 3 teaspoons of anise seed in 4 cups water, then strain it through a coffee filter. We used this anise water and regular boiled water half and half to mix their formula with. It made a *huge* difference, especially with [our daughter], who had the most trouble with the formula."

  • "Our pediatrician at the time did perscribe a medication called Belladonna which did help a bit."
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Dietary Changes

Whether the baby is being breastfed or given formula in a bottle, dietary changes -- for the breastfeeding mother or the formula itself -- could have an impact.

  • "If [the baby is] breastfed, it could be at least partly something that mom is eating. I never had a problem, but I know that a significant number of nursing moms have to restrict or even eliminate certain foods -- dairy is one of the most frequent problem causers. Anyway, it might be worth looking into. If the baby is bottlefed, ... [try] changing the formula, maybe just brands or perhaps to soy if [you're] using a cow's milk based formula or vice versa?"

  • "My second baby was colicy (and constipated) for 4 months. I started out breastfeeding her and stopped at 6 weeks thinking it was my milk. After going thru every formula on the market (including goat and soy) with no improvement, I started making her formula with regular milk. I accidently picked up lower fat milk one day and made her formula with it anyway. She settled down after the very first feeding. This led me to believe high fat content was her problem so I started using Carnation instant low fat powder to make her formula. The colic and constipation disappeared like magic. The improvement was dramatic and immediate with no relapses."

  • "If your breast feeding, ... stop eating anything spicy!! Watch for lactose intolerance too, I could eat cheese and my daughter would be affected 8 hours later, - I SWEAR!~! Anything that could possibly upset a tummy or constipate Mommy will usually not do baby a whole lot of good."

  • "If breastfeeding make sure Mom is PLENTY hydrated!!"

  • "I was [breastfeeding] and cutting out all milk products did help a lot, along with caffiene,"

  • "If all else fails [talk to] your doctor about seeing a allergist and or nutritionist, after a visit to the allergist we learned my son had a host of food allergies, no wonder he was so fussy, I wish i would have taken him sooner, but since he continued to gain weight and be healthy they said he was just spitty. If you think something is wrong put your foot down after all who knows this baby best you!!"

  • "My twins have a touch of the colic too... though it is better than it was since they were switched to Nutramigen (16.98 a can for the powdered!!)"

  • "If there isn't [anything medically wrong], we had to go thru several formulas with one of my daughters to get the right combination."

  • "I had also read in one of the baby/parent mags several months ago that sugar water seemed to help babies with gas/colic. I think it was enfamil had a premix solution. But check with Dr. if your thinking about it. Hang in there and hopefully this too will pass."

  • "We also wound up doing a 3-part formula mix! 1 can Enfalac with Iron, 1 can Enfalac regular, and 1 can Carnation Good Start. We mix the whole works up in a gallon container, then make up their bottles with the "mix". So far so good; it's a bit of trouble but well worth it since [my daugher is] not colicky at night and [my son is] not constipated. I think we might be kind of lucky that the one mix works for both so best of luck to you!"
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Feeding Changes/Tips

Experiment with changes to the eating routine or positions.

  • "i breastfed her. i was told that after a certain amount of time, to stop her and switch sides. well i truely believe that's what was causing her colic symptons. she was not getting the fatty milk that comes last, she was just getting the front milk from both sides. i started just feeding her one side at a time and the symptons ceased to exist."

  • "I had a few very rough nights with my little boy around that age. Turned out the poor kid was just hungry - he had a feeding frenzy every night. I couldn't figure out why he was crying since he had just eaten, and tried everything else, getting more and more frustrated and tired. Only more milk (breast or bottle, I did both with the twins) would help. Boy, did I feel stupid!"

  • "We just did whatever we could to soothe her. I fed her very often (breastfed), and held her much of the day. She would sometimes last up to about 20 or 30 minutes after a feeding before she started complaining (putting it mildly)."

  • "Plus lots of burping, sometimes half way thru and then at end of feeding. "

  • "Have you tried a different bottle? Some people swear by certain ones. We had used avent."
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White Noise Sources

Many parents have found some relief from sources of white noise that block out other stimulating sounds.

  • "[My daughter] liked the sound of the dishwasher running. We ran the dishwasher 3-4 times a day every day for almost 4 months, with her laying on a blanket in front of it."

  • "[Sit] next to running sink or bath water"
  • "A ticking clock in the crib."

  • "we would also turn on the bathroom or stove fan and sit near it. and we had an older model exercise bike that made a lot of noise when you rode it, we would get on it with her in our arms and start pedaling."

  • "Anything with white noise played every night all night.....we kept a fan going 24 hours a day, it seemed to block out jarring noises or street noises, babies slept more soundly when they were sleeping."

  • "[Do you have a source of] 'white noise' i.e., fan noise, dishwasher, washing machine, vacuum?. If so, place a baby monitor base by the noise, and place the monitor by your child."

  • "Oh yeah one final thing something about country western ballads or folk music seemed to worked, i don't know why."

  • "White noise saved us! A humidifier (a nice loud one) running in his room at night, the bathroom or kitchen fan, a tape of white noise -- anything!"
  • "Another thing that helped was a CD that her Pediatric nurse recommended that had all of those mindless white noise sounds on it, e.g. vaccuum cleaner, a bathtub filling with water. ... (The CD is called "Grandma's Fussbuster CD" and you can get it at www.cryingbaby.com.)"
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Bouncing, walking, dancing, vibrations... anything with rhythm.

  • "Putting him in his car seat on the running dryer."

  • "Driving around in the car."

  • "Pushing in the stroller."

  • "BE CAREFUL::: WARNING:: Put baby in carseat and on top of dryer , sometimes this motion helps. Do not leave unattended!"

  • "Bouncy seats but NOT bouncing AFTER eating. or try BOUNCING if that doesn't work."

  • "Take baby for ride in car, wouldn't suggest making a habit out of this one, just for those BAD nights."

  • "I found that the 'spin' cycle on the washer would settle him for a while, (my pediatrician told me about that one, he said, 'good thing you've got plenty of laundry'"

  • "If all else fails go for a drive so you have a chance to clear your mind - many starbucks have drive thru's now you know."

  • "One thing that worked for us was baby swings. Not all babies like them, but mine adored them. Many a night they were the only thing that worked for putting my guys back to sleep."

  • "One things that absolutely saved our sanity was the motorized bouncy seat. It vibrates with the flick of a switch. We went through more batteries than I can count, but it was worth it. We were so desperate for sleep, at one point, that we put the vibrating bouncy in the cribs. It really soothed our boys."

  • "He also loved his bouncy seat, and would fall asleep with his binky in his mouth and me bouncing him (vibrator ON!)."

  • "Holding them, feeding them didn't do any good. What we did was put them in their car seats and cram their 'magic blankets' (blankets my aunt had knit for them that seemed to comfort them at one point) firmly around them and rock them fairly quickly. It sounds kind of brutal, but it was the only thing we could do. I don't know if the rocking helped them - or just helped to dispel some of our frustration."

  • "I did all the tricks to soothe 'high need'babies, but what was most effective for me was wearing her in the front pack (I had a Baby Bjorn). 'Waltzing' with her, and holding her over my shoulder and singing also worked. The swing was not effective for very long with her - she needed human contact."

  • "What worked best for us was one of those really big exercise balls (like an oversized beach ball). I would sit on it and bounce very gently. (he loved it - and it was a lot less tiring for me than having to hold him while walking/rocking)."

  • "Plus those baby swings gave me a break from them! When things got stressful, I put them in those for a break. The electronic ones, that work on batteries, were a lifesaver for me!"
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Gas Relief

Some parents found that excess gas seemed to be a source of problems for their infants.

  • "I would lay her face up in my lap and work her legs like she was riding a bike, gas would be worked out of her and she would start to feel better."

  • "And another thing was baby exercizes to move that gas around. Take their legs, and push them back and forth and up and down. It feels to good to them while doing it, and helps move the gas, and get it out!"
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Holding Positions

Different parents have had some luck with holding their infants in different positions.

  • "... and the ONLY think that would quiet her was to hold her facing tummy-down laying across my fore-arm, with her legs hanging off by my hand and her head tucked in right by my elbow. And I had to be walking, standing or sitting just would not do. For some reason, I think the pressure that it put on her tummy helped. It also helped that she was under 4 lbs and pretty tiny when we brought them home, so it wasn't too agonizing at first. But as they got bigger, holding her in that position for hours at a time made me feel like my arms would surely break off at any second."

  • "try laying him across your lap or laying him face down across your forearm"
  • "Keep baby vertical after eating. or try keeping horizontal after eating. or try on baby's tummy on Moms/Dads lap and massaging baby's back or opposite of that, keep trying different positions, sometimes you can find ONE that seems to help. Try Mommy's or Daddy's tummy to baby's tummy, that helped with us---don't know if it is the heat or what (kangaroo care) but this was a good one for us."

  • "Also, check out Dr. Sears (The baby book) chapter on colic, some of the 'holds' proved beneficial as well."

  • "we got in the habit of keeping them upright longer after night feedings before putting them back down to sleep."

  • "Holding him upright (head on shoulder), and bouncing him worked well too."

  • "I got a baby-size, hot-water bottle, filled it with warm water, laid a towel on my lap, the hot-water bottle on the towel, and blanket on the hot-water bottle. I then put the baby on her tummy on top of the blanket and began patting her back. She would probably fuss for about 10 or 15 minutes and then she would quite down. This was a nightly ritual for her and I that lasted about 4 months, then she outgrew her colic."

  • "I did all the tricks to soothe 'high need' babies, but what was most effective for me was wearing her in the front pack (I had a Baby Bjorn). 'Waltzing' with her, and holding her over my shoulder and singing also worked. The swing was not effective for very long with her - she needed human contact."

  • "My son was breech and he also liked being swaddled in a blanket (for many, many months!) and held straight upright against me, facing outward when he was distressed.(this did nothing for my daughter - so I guess every baby is different - find their favorite position and stick to it)."
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Through the Night

  • "We took turns sleeping sitting in our chairs every other night. The only way that Amanda would sleep more than 30 minutes was upright resting in someone's arms. Even then she would only sleep for about 90 minutes at a time. We did this for the whole five months."

  • "when things were really bad my husband and i would take turns, i.e. he would have one all niter and i the next so we could be assured a whole nites sleep every now and then."

  • "And, I know I'll get flamed for this, but we got the doc's OK -- putting him to sleep on his belly. He also had reflux (which I'm not sure is any different from colic), so that was partly why it was OK to do this. Obviously, ask your doctor before you do something like that."
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Here are some other ideas parents have tried.

  • "play or sing music"
  • "I would hold her and we would both sleep in the recliner."

  • "Change diapers - Huggies NIghttime Diapers worked better at night for us, they seemed to keep the moisture away from the skin better, a dry baby is a HAPPY baby ;-)"

  • "Give baby bath or take in shower with you. Sometimes running water helps too.Just stand in the bathroom with the shower running, soothing for all."

  • "Take baby outside for fresh air, this usually helps mom and baby!"

  • "...and finally, get used to it, sleep deprivation sucks, but its the way it is for awhile."

  • "If baby seems to be uncomfortable I would see a pediatrician just to ease your mind."

  • "if all else fails [talk to] your doctor about seeing a allergist and or nutritionist, after a visit to the allergist we learned my son had a host of food allergies, no wonder he was so fussy, I wish i would have taken him sooner, but since he continued to gain weight and be healthy they said he was just spitty. If you think something is wrong put your foot down after all who knows this baby best you!!"

  • "Have you checked with your doctor to see if there is anything medically that might be wrong?"
  • "I got a baby-size, hot-water bottle, filled it with warm water, laid a towel on my lap, the hot-water bottle on the towel, and blanket on the hot-water bottle. I then put the baby on her tummy on top of the blanket and began patting her back. She would probably fuss for about 10 or 15 minutes and then she would quite down. This was a nightly ritual for her and I that lasted about 4 months, then she outgrew her colic."

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When Does It All End?

There really is a light at the end of this tunnel.

  • "Sometimes it only takes a few months, sometimes longer. [Daughter A] cried for 5 months. [Daughter B] screamed at us every waking minute for 6.5 months. My sister's second child went on for just over 7 months. According to the doctors and books we read 4-5 months is normal."

  • "One of my twin girls was colicky for about 4 months,"

  • "Again, the good news is that it goes away. My [husband] and I used to estimate that [our son] spent 90% of his awake time crying. Now he is the most delightful and happy baby ever!"

  • "If it is colic, there is sometimes nothing that works regularly. My niece was colicky, and nothing worked the same way twice with her. When my now 15-year-old was newborn with colic it took me a couple of weeks to hit on the remedy that worked for her, at least most times it worked."

  • "My daughter did not get over colicky behavior (all day - not just in the evening) until 4 months. Her age is true - not adjusted. So maybe at 4 months adjusted for your daughter?"

  • "My daughters colic finally went away about this same time 4.5 months."

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