If you have a colicky baby, you’re well-acquainted with the so-called “witching hours” in the late afternoon or evening. These hours are primetime for most babies with colic, and parents of colicky babies everywhere are doing their best to survive them.
Here are some tips for surviving the witching hours, and all the hours in-between.
Let yourself off the hook. It’s not your fault that your baby has colic, and it’s not your fault that you can’t calm him down. If a perfect mother existed (hint, she doesn’t), even she would be powerless to stop colic. Do your best to get through this time, remembering that colic does not mean you’re a bad mother.
Take a volcano break if you need one. Every parent who’s dealt with colic has a moment (or several) when they’re 90 minutes into a crying episode and feel like a volcano is about to erupt. This feeling can lead to an urge to yell at your baby, or even shake him. If you feel these urges, it’s perfectly okay to put him in his crib and walk outside for several deep, slow breaths. These breaks can quiet the volcano and help scary urges pass so you can get back to your baby with a clear, calm head.
If you find that urges to shake or otherwise lash out at your baby persist, it’s important to seek professional help. Colic may put mothers at risk for postpartum depression, for which effective treatments are available.
Spread the wealth. Share the gift of colic with your loved ones! Jokes aside, dealing with a colicky baby can feel overwhelming. Take turns with your partner during episodes. When it’s your partner’s turn to be with the baby, try going for a walk around the block to get away from the crying and breathe some fresh air. Recruit your toughest family members and friends to spend the witching hours with you every now and then. They can help you with dinner, stay with the baby if you need that walk around the block, or just keep you company.
Find colic friends. Having a baby with colic may feel isolating, but there are many other parents dealing with a colicky baby right now. Buddying up with a parent going through the same thing can be a relief. Sometimes just knowing you’re not the only one dealing with a tough situation can help you feel better. A colic friend is also someone with whom you can take turns venting, swap coping ideas, and even meet for a stroller walk during the witching hours. If you talk candidly to other new parents at support groups, the park, or the pediatrician’s waiting room, chances are you’ll find a colic friend. Online colic friends are great, too. Try searching the web for a colic support group.
Schedule “you” time. The stress of colic can build, and sometimes you’ll need more than a walk around the block. Work with your partner, a family member, or a friend to find time when you can leave the baby and go out for an hour or two on your own. Taking these longer breaks every now and then go a long way in helping you regain your patience and feel recharged.
Keep the evening chore-free. Because colicky babies tend to cry in the evenings, it can be helpful to prep dinner and take care of as many other chores as possible during the day.
Take care of yourself as well as you can. This is easier said than done, as it’s hard to focus on your needs with a new baby in your life. Still, trying to rest when you can and eat nutritious food can help you manage the stress of colic.
Lastly, and most important, remember this: Colic ends. One day (likely in about three months if you’re at the beginning of the road), rather than walking laps around the house with a crying baby, you’ll be spending your evenings playing with a happy one.