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Tara Kompare, Pharm.D
Tara Kompare, Pharm.D is a part-time pharmacist and full-time mother. She received her Doctor of Pharmacy from Virginia Commonwealth University.

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The Colic Creature
August 2006

I still cover my eyes with the nearest pillow when the Abominable Snowman appears in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Who wouldn’t be afraid of a jagged-tooth hairy beast with a roar that shakes the earth? After the birth of my second child, I had no idea that she was next in line to win first prize for the scariest creature ever! If I had known she was going to have colic, I would have bought more pillows.

Colic is one of the most feared five letter words known to new parents, and for good reason. It grabs you by the neck, drags you down, and gnaws away at you bit by bit--pretty gruesome, I know, but those of you who have been there know exactly what I mean. Upon the discovery that my little angel was colicky, I immediately hit the books and the internet looking for a cure for this dreadful condition. Unfortunately, there was none. There are no proven safe and effective drug treatments for colic. The cause and cure of colic are still a mystery to the medical community and only time can make it disappear. It affects approximately one in five infants and most simply can be defined by uncontrollable bouts of excessive crying in an otherwise healthy and well-fed infant. It typically begins at two weeks of age, peaks at six weeks, and is gone by three months at which time I highly suggest taking an adults only vacation.

What you can do:

-Call your pediatrician. It is crucial to seek the advice of a physician if your newborn experiences bouts of uncontrollable crying. Sometimes there is an underlying medical cause for the cries such as reflux or infection.

-Make use of your household fans. I am very lucky that my house has lots of fans. Any type of white noise such as hairdryers, vacuums, and running water, can help calm colicky infants.

-Swaddle them. Get your pediatricians office to show you the best way to swaddle if you’re not sure. It needs to be wiggle proof.

-Dance. Hold your baby close, put on whatever music calms you down, and rock back and forth with your baby. Jimmy Buffett is one of my favorites for giving me a little “changes in attitudes.”

-Give them your finger or a pacifier to suck on. Many babies are instantly soothed when they begin sucking. Others will squeal and hurl the pacifier back at you. Yes, this happened to me.

-Go for a touchdown. A lot of colicky babies are more comfortable lying on their bellies or tucked under your arm like a football with their belly resting on your forearm.

-Give them a bath. Some babies are instantly soothed by a warm bath. Others will scream bloody murder. You don’t know till you try.

-Ask your pediatrician about eliminating certain foods such as dairy, nuts, and wheat, or switching formulas. Some infants’ symptoms will improve with a low-allergen diet.

-Ask for help. Never hesitate to ask someone for help. You deserve it.

What NOT to do:

-Run away and join the circus

-Assume that you are a bad parent. You know what happens when you assume. Colic just happens, and it happens to the best of parents.

-Hit strangers. You will want to tackle the passers by who mumble or actually come up to you and suggest you try giving your baby some milk. The nerve! Yeah, I like starving my baby so she screams bloody murder in public. It’s a great way to draw attention to myself. Whatever!

-Never ever shake your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics uses the phrase “Take a break. Don’t Shake.” Just walk away when the crying gets to be too much. Go into your yard if you have to. Take ten or fifteen minutes to regain your composure. Crying in his crib won’t hurt him but you could if you don’t walk away.

The world of colic is a scary place. If your baby has colic, do your best to keep your sanity and be on the lookout for a good babysitter. If you don’t have a baby with colic, but know someone who does, help them, ASAP.

*P.S.S. (Parent Sanity Saver): When the cries really start getting under your skin, put some headphones on and chill out with Jimmy Buffett or rock with Janis Joplin. If you are a country fan, feel like a woman again with a Shania Twain soundtrack. Anything works, as long as it drowns out the squeals of terror and revives your wounded spirit.

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