Colic is a funny thing. I have read loads about it since it appears that is what our son, Gabriel, was suffering from for the first three months of his life. Suffering? Maybe. It is hard to say if it is actual suffering or just not able to acclimate to his new world. The idea of the fourth trimester seems to ring so true for colicky babies. They just cannot calm down unless they are held, rocked, and given a steady noise, such as shhhing or white noise. Basically, put them back in the womb!
One thing that stands out to me from my reading adventures (online and through books) is that when the colic ends, you often have a overly-tired baby on your hands. Trying to get the baby to sleep is of utmost importance because up to this point, he or she has not learned a lick of how to do it on his or her own.
This was certainly true for us. Gabriel showed the classic symptoms of colic: crying for hours on end from about the second week of his life until about 13 or 14 weeks. It gradually got better, it wasn’t like he hit three months and BAM! no more crying. He eased his way out of it. To get through it, we did whatever worked, which included breaking our rule that the baby does not sleep in our bed. As a post-colic baby*, he still ends up in our bed for several hours a night and often awakens there. But the important thing is that he is happy.
I have treated his fourth month of life very much like I would treat a typical baby’s first month. We have not imposed any sleep schedule on him because in my mind, he has only just started being able to self-regulate and develop some natural sleep pattern. I just focused on helping him to get as much sleep as possible. At four months old, he takes 4-5 naps a day and spends 1-2 hours awake between the naps. At night, he is up around 4 times between 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. He averages about 13 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. Much better than the 8-10 hours he was getting at the peak of the colic. He also eats NON-STOP. But that’s for another post.
So this is where we are. Where are we going? The therapist part of me has put together a list of questions to help me decide which route to take in sleep training. Our first, Briony, was sleep-trained at 9 months. After failed attempts using a few different methods, we ended up “Ferberizing” her, or a gradual extinction method. It took less than a week for her to learn to go to sleep on her own. Gabriel is a different person and will likely require a different approach. I’m exploring that right now.
*Post-colic baby: The state of being for a baby emerging from colic, usually the first 6-9 weeks following the colic spell. I made up this definition, but it makes sense to me.