While in the back of my mind I knew each child is different, I had no idea how different they could be. So when Sybil started screaming uncontrollably at she was 3 weeks old, I figured we just needed to find out how to soothe her. It turns out nothing we tried would help her. She literally cried for hours every night for 3 weeks. I began to dread early evening because I knew she would be starting soon. Dealing with infant reflux is exhausting for everyone involved.
When I say we tried everything, I mean we tried everything. Rocking, bouncing, walking, shushing, nursing, burping. The rock and play, swing, stroller, car seat. When I couldn’t take walking around the house with her anymore, we walked outside in the dark under the stars. I whispered to her over and over “I love you my sweet Sybil” as much to remind myself as to soothe her.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. This period was one of the hardest I’ve experienced as a parent. I felt helpless that I couldn’t soothe my baby. I felt frustrated with her for crying. And then I felt guilty for being frustrated with her.
I once read that colic is really a form of reflux. I believe this to be true. Something is hurting your little one. In our case, Sybil’s stomach needed more time to mature. She had reflux and terrible gas pains. After nursing she’d have this gurgling in her throat and begin crying. Once she finally fell asleep (probably from exhaustion after crying so long), she’d sleep for a few hours and then start squirming and kicking. The only thing that felt better was sleeping on her stomach when someone was holding her. Yes, she slept in a pack and play, in our arms and on our bed. Everything you’re not supposed to do. It’s the only way we survived.
If you’re trying to figure out if your child has reflux, these are a few of the symptoms Sybil experienced:
- Arching her back
- Squirming/kicking her legs
- Gurgling after nursing
- Couldn’t be put down without screaming
If you found this post because you’re going through something similar with your little one, I’m sorry. I truly am. I wish I could give you a magic remedy. Instead I can offer the tips that helped us through this period.
5 Tips to Survive a Baby with Reflux and Colic
- Take a break – when Sybil was at her worst screaming for hours at a time, we literally traded off every 5-10 minutes. That little break was enough to shed some tears if needed, gather my thoughts and give it another try with my little girl. This was the #1 thing that saved my sanity.
- Get whatever help you can – your spouse, partner, family or friends. Listening to a baby scream for hours will drive you crazy. Accept help when offered and get the break you desperately need. Personally I was terrible at accepting help from others (other than Jim) and thought it was my responsibility to help my child.
- Seek alternative solutions – our pediatrician was quick to diagnose Sybil with colic and reflux. She recommending we put Sybil on Zantac for her reflux, which we did for four weeks. I wasn’t crazy about giving Sybil medication, especially so young, so we looked into other options. Also, Zantac typically becomes less effective after a few weeks. You may need to switch to another medication and/or a stronger concentration. I brought her to two different chiropractors and a naturopathic pediatrician. I cut out dairy, soy, gluten and caffeine. We gave her a probiotic, homeopathic gas drops. Not everything we tried worked, but at least I felt like we were doing something. For the record, I felt the homeopathic gas drops helped her the most.
- Accept that this too shall pass – it may not feel like it in the moment, but I promise your little one will grow out of this phase. I remember reading posts when Sybil was three weeks old about other mothers that had been through the same thing. I didn’t know how I’d make it another 3 weeks, let alone 3 or 6 months, but I did. And you will too.
- Know you will bond with your baby – having a baby with reflux/colic can make it difficult to bond. I experienced this and really beat myself up about it. I remember telling my mom that I didn’t know if I liked Sybil much less love her. Jim assured me over and over that I did love her and would bond with her in time. He was right. I wrote more about bonding with Sybil here.
On the plus side, now that Sybil is 14 months old she’s grown into an affectionate little girl. I think it’s at least partially due to all the hours we spent holding and trying to comfort her. Now she loves to snuggle with us and is the sweetest little thing.
If you have any questions or just want someone to listen while you vent, feel free to connect with me on Instagram or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to help you in any way that I can!