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Why Do Babies Get Colic? Plus 3 Ways To Keep Calm During Their Tears

There are few things more upsetting than your baby having an uncontrollable cry fest. You’ve changed their diaper, fed them, rocked them, and strapped them in their car seat for a ride in the car, but they’re still screaming. Nobody wants to say the ‘c’ word, but it’s possible you’ve already thought of it — colic. Not only is it painful to watch your baby get so upset and there be nothing you can do to fix it, but it’s also normal to get totally frustrated and overwhelmed. Knowing why babies get colic may be able to shed some light on the darkness and give you peace of mind.

The important thing to remember is that there is nothing wrong with your baby. The Mayo Clinic says colic as a period of distress in a normal, healthy, well-fed baby. If your baby is battling gas pains, ear infection, or some other kind of pain, then their crying isn’t considered colic. Instead, a baby seems to be fine on all accounts, but will cry for hours sometimes and there’s nothing you can do can fix it.

That’s reason one why it’s so frustrating. Reason two? It seems to have no direct cause. One theory from the Journal of Medical Hypotheses is that there is an imbalance of serotonin and melatonin in your little one. Serotonin is a chemical that makes the intestinal muscles contract and some scientists believe that colicky babies have more of this, making them cranky and fussy. Most symptoms of colic disappear around the age of three months, which is when melatonin, another brain chemical, is produced. Why does this matter? Because melatonin is a chemical that relaxes those same intestinal muscles. Without it, a baby with higher levels of serotonin might feel crampy and these levels peak at night, making babies fuss more in the evening.

For some babies, colic is their way of adjusting to life outside the womb. Pediatrician William Sears told Parenting that some babies need to continue with the sensations of being in the womb even after they’re born. All of the new lights, sounds, and being free from the confines of you can make them irritated and unable to cope. It makes sense, right? We all have days where life just gets to be too much and Sears theorizes that colicky babies might feel the same way.

It all boils down to babies getting colic because they just do. There’s no real reason or explanation for it, and researchers have tried lots of different avenues. The Mayo Clinic also notes that, other than smoking while pregnant, there aren’t really any reasons why a baby might be more susceptible to colic than any other child. It seems colic doesn’t discriminate and affects up 40 percent of babies every year.

If your baby is colicky and there’s nothing you’ve found that helps them, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and frustrated yourself. To keep your wits and give you a break, here are three ways to deal with a colicky baby.

1. Ask For Help

You’re not alone in this. Have your partner, your parents, a friend, or someone you trust come help you during your baby’s tough time. Take turns holding and rocking the baby, or let someone else handle it while you take 30 minutes to browse Target or take a long walk. Parenting is hard enough on your own, but parenting a colicky baby alone can be even tougher.

2. Remember That Babies Do Their Own Thing

If shushing and rocking your baby worked yesterday, don’t expect the same results today. Babies do their own thing and it’s incredibly important to remember that. Trust me, your sanity will be in tact if you keep repeating that babies aren’t controllable.

3. Find a Fellow Mom That’s Dealt With Colic

Every mom has dealt with a crying baby, but colic is a whole new world. Find a mom whose babies went through the same thing and meet her for coffee or even just a text date. She’ll be able to provide you with proof that there is light at the end of the tunnel and may be able to offer new advice you hadn’t tried or heard. It takes a village.