Travelling with a colicky baby is daunting. Travelling with a baby can be unnerving in itself, so when you add colic to the mix it notches up to the next level. That’s why I thought I’d share my tips for how to help a colicky baby, specifically whilst travelling.
What is Colic?
For those of you who aren’t familiar with colic, the NHS describes it as intense bouts of crying that last several hours. They used to specify crying for more than three consecutive hours at least three days of the week, but now it’s a little more vague. Either way, it’s bloody tough. It’s not known what causes colic. It affects one in five babies, so it’s fairly common but it can feel quite isolating.
My second baby, Kit, suffered with it and it was heartbreaking to see her so upset. It was also incredibly frustrating and quite often felt like torture. Fair enough if you have a crier who hates cuddles with strangers, but with a colicky baby even a mama’s cuddle does little to soothe.
I found myself Googling ‘colic relief’, ‘colic treatment’ and ‘how long does colic last?’ on a daily basis. I was desperate for her to get better. We tried ‘colic medicine’ aka Gripe water and colic drops, but they didn’t do much all for her.
I hated seeing her in so much discomfort, but selfishly I also hated that I felt like I was going to lose my mind. It’s impossible to think straight when you’re tired from the sleepless nights, let alone when you have a seemingly never-ending wail ringing in your ears.
We booked our first overseas family of four trip for when she was three months old and I was nervous about travelling with a colicky baby. Not worried enough to abandon my dreams of family travel, but even as an enthusiastic traveller with experience of travelling with our little boy, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I was apprehensive.
Luck was on our side in the end and she was a dream during her first flight. I think a few other things helped us though and so whilst you don’t really have too much control over colic (or a baby for that matter!), these are the things that I think helped us to travel with a colicky baby…
How to help a colicky baby…
I was sceptical of using an osteopath, but to be honest I was so desperate that I thought it was worth a shot. Not just for our upcoming trip, but for my day to day sanity. It only cost around £30 a session and in the end Kit had three of them.
From looking at her alignment, really lightly touching various key points on her body and listening to her symptoms the therapists rated her colic as a 7/10 and reflux as 3/10 (with 10 being the worse). They suspected it was due to my fast labour; her being compressed at an awkward angle and then entering the world in a slightly twisted position. Stupidly I felt guilty, but I guess it’s just one of those things.
Kit didn’t look unusual to me, but at the start of each session they’d take a photo of her face and point out small differences – one cheek being slightly puffier or one eyebrow a few millimetres higher than the other.
They’d do their work, which frankly looked like little all. Kit never so much as made a noise and they looked like they were just putting a finger on her stomach or cheek or whatever and then they’d take another photo. The difference was immediately obvious even to my untrained eye and she’d be a dreamboat for at least the rest of that day and night.
The sessions were spread out over a few months and although I believe she improved partly simply as she grew (as the NHS suggests), I definitely think the osteopath helped because there was such an obvious difference after each visit.
Do your own research, but it’s worth looking into it. I used The Maple Tree Clinic in Northampton.
We went for a European trip so that Kit’s first flight would only be a few hours. A couple of hours of crying is bearable in the grand scheme of things. If you really love travel and want to go somewhere a few hours isn’t much to put up with. I’d also suggest staying away for as long is feasible, so that the journey is perhaps a bit more justified.
Happy Parents, Happy Baby
The flight *might* be awful, but if you’re going to listen to crying you might as well enjoy a pretty view, have someone clean up after you, cook your meals and feel the sun on your skin. If a holiday makes you happy, then go for it. After all they do say that happy parents, means happy baby. And if it’s not true, happy parents, unhappy baby is still better than everyone being upset!
If like Kit, your little one isn’t much of a sleeper, you’ll probably snigger at this one, but everything is worth a shot. The NHS reckon that colic is worse in the evening and at night, but you’ll know your little one best. Book your flight for their least fussy time of the day in the hope they’ll be quieter.
Take each day as it comes and don’t assume that your baby will scream the entire time. Kit surprised us, so you might be just as lucky. You could try some affirmations and put happy thoughts out into the universe. We kept telling ourselves that she’d be a dreamboat on her first flight and she was!
There’s nothing worse than people staring as you try to console a crying baby. I already feel bad enough for disturbing others, so I hate it when everyone looks over. I assume they’re judging my parenting skills. If you’re at the front of the plane people will naturally look at you as you’re in their eyeline. Pick the back row if you can. You can make a speedy exit when you land, you can swiftly go to the galley if you need to rock them and it’s also more of an effort for people to turn around in the seats so it should minimise the looks.
Hang on in there
If you also have a baby with colic, firstly, I feel for you. It’s tough, but it will get better, promise! It might not be in time for your flight – sorry! – but I found it really helpful to know that the incessant crying was a thing and not just me being a rubbish mama. Colic is said to improve as your baby gets older so you should hopefully see a little bit of improvement between booking a flight and actually going. Hang on in there!
Did your baby suffer with colic? Do you have any other tips to add?