Pregnancy & Baby, Toddler & Preschool

Combatting Colic

Q: We have a newborn with colic. She cries and cries and nothing seems to help her. I’ve tried every diet change recommended and switched her formula twice. A friend mentioned some kind of “lab” milk…


I literally just had a mini panic attack. To me, the word “colic” causes as much anxiety as the words “hemorrhoid,” “pap-smear” or “pool party.”

The technical definition of colic, which I’m sure your baby’s pediatrician has shared with you, is “a condition in which an otherwise healthy baby cries or displays symptoms of distress without any discernible reason.”

My definition of colic is “somebody broke my baby and she thinks it was me and hates me and will not stop crying until all of my hair falls out and I run out of bourbon.”

To put it bluntly, colic sucks. Everyone thinks you are just hypersensitive, which of course you are, because you have slept for exactly 17 minutes since she came home a month ago, and most of those minutes were while you were driving her to and from the pediatrician. (Who can do nothing for her. Or for you. Or for global warming. He’s useless, really.)

These are some facts:

     1. Never listen to any family member who offers you advice, unless that advice is, “I’m on my way over to hold your writhing baby so that you can go to a bar.”

     2. Gas drops, acid reflux medicine, probiotics, infant massage … none of these seems to work as well as strapping the baby securely to the top of your dryer and running that puppy on high with a bunch of tennis shoes and towels in it. The heat and jiggling might relax her for a little while and you’ll both smell Downy fresh.

     3. You need sleep. Get some however you can, wherever you can. Call a sitter to come hold her for a few hours and go sleep in your car in your driveway.

As for me, my newborn had it, too. When she was four weeks old, I brought her to my OB and accused him of ‘breaking’ her during delivery and demanded my money back. We had of course already been to the pediatrician, ER, ENT, psychiatrist and spiritual medium … all to no avail.

While I was sobbing my way back to the parking lot, Valium prescription in hand, toting the hysterical little bundle of tears, my OB’s nurse came running out, and after glimpsing over her left shoulder, then the right, in a hushed voice said, “Nutramigen.” And then she scurried back though the door of the office. I stood there stunned. Nutrama-what? Is it illegal? Do I get it off the streets? (“It’s one of the lab milks. You get it at Walgreens,” said my pediatrician in his stop-calling-me-you-are-acting-like-a-crazy-person voice.)

We were both so exhausted and desperate that I drove straight to Walgreens, bought a six-pack of the stuff and gave her a bottle right there in the parking lot. It took exactly one bottle. ONE. And the nightmare was over. She stopped crying instantly. It was a miracle. There was no burning bush, but I’m telling you, this was some divine intervention.

My husband came home right away to bear witness to the miracle and all three of us went to sleep at 4:30 in the afternoon and did not wake up until the alarm went off at six the next morning. She had never slept for more than a few hours at a time, so when I frantically rushed in her room, convinced that she had been abducted by aliens, I could not believe my eyes. There was my little angel, just lying there, all safe and sound in her crib watching her electronic mobile go around. I burst into happy tears and then went and took a nap.

The moral of this story? Pester your pediatrician—or his or her nurses—for advice and guidance on anything that might alleviate your sweet baby’s pain. Maybe it’s Zantac. Or sitting upright after eating. Or maybe infant massage. The “lab milk” worked for my daughter and it might work for your’s, too. It wasn’t cheap, but it was worth its weight in Bourbon.

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