Focusing on the family continued...
Lester is quick to point out that his approach in no way
targets the mother as a cause of colic. That old-school attitude "does no
good and in fact, makes matters worse," he says. Instead, Lester sees the
situation more as a vicious cycle -- a crying, irritable child can make a
mother miserable (45% of the clinic's mothers are diagnosed as depressed, more
than double the normal average), can compromise a marriage, and can even cause
siblings to develop problems, such as bedwetting.
Of course, the Colic Clinic does devote significant attention
to the infants themselves. All who come in are thoroughly examined and screened
for possible causes of their irritability, such as heartburn, sleep problems,
or food sensitivities. Parents are also given comprehensive guidance regarding
how they might try to soothe their child.
Still, a great deal of the clinicians' time is spent teaching
coping strategies to the parents. For, as Lester points out, "if we don't
intervene, colic can affect the parent-child relationship long after the crying
Here are some of the Colic Clinic's suggestions for
Keep a colic diary
The Colic Clinic provides parents with a diary that divides
each 24-hour day into 15-minute sections, each with check boxes for if the
child is crying, sleeping, feeding, and/or awake. At the end of every week, the
four behaviors are highlighted in four different colors. "This allows a
parent to see how much a child is actually crying and when it is most likely to
A diary also can make parents aware of what they may be doing
to exacerbate the situation. "A mother may realize that, gosh, she's been
feeding the baby 20 times a day, or putting him down every night at 11:00 pm.
She might, then, try to modify these behaviors to see if the situation
In the very least, keeping a diary gives a parent a better
sense of control and a clearer perspective of a situation that may otherwise
seem to them like a shapeless, sleep-deprived abyss.