The Colic Diaries: Infacol and Gripe Water


Hello there! I'm afraid this post will probably only be interesting to you if you have a baby with colic, or if you are about to have a baby and are concerned he/she may get colic. If not, you're probably better off skipping it as it'll be a bit of a snorefest. You have been warned!

However, if your baby has colic, then please let me send you a massive great big bear hug across the internet, and tell you that it's going to be OK. It really is. I promise. And don't worry if you sometimes feel like you want to throw your baby out of a window. Or get in the car and drive a very very long way away from the NEVER ENDING NOISE. It's normal. And you won't (throw the baby out the window, or run away).

I had no idea what colic was until about three days after Daph was born, when I finally had time to rummage through the Bounty pack they give you when you leave hospital. In it was a leaflet all about Infacol, explaining what colic was. I remember reading it and thinking it didn't sound too bad, and that it was good to know there was a 'medicine' that could take care of it. Ha!

Anyway for the first three weeks of her life Daph was pretty much a dream baby - she slept easily and often and although her waking times were unpredictable, she definitely slept well in the evenings, and we actually watched a bit of TV. Then at around three weeks, she started to get grumpy in the evenings. We noticed she was farting a lot, and always had a really tight tummy, but winding her was hard because she was so tiny. After a few days, the grumpiness turned into full-on crying sessions, with the typical arched back and legs they warn you about. It was then that I realised we were one of those 'lucky' one in five parents who have babies with colic.

No one seems to know exactly what colic is, or what causes it. Which seems ridiculous when you think they've been sending men into space since the 1960s. But anyway. Some people think it's related to digestive issues, whereas others say it's more about the baby's brain development - there's even a newish thing called 'the period of purple crying' which is now being touted about to reassure parents (and to stop them throwing their babies out of windows). I have my own theories - but for us, Daph's colic was definitely related to her digestion.

Colic is hideous. Forget waterboarding, stick a prisoner in a room with the soundtrack of a colicky baby's cry and they'd give up their secrets in seconds. Daphne would cry and cry for around three hours every night, every day, starting at about 8pm, without fail. She would cry as though she was in pain, but would have momentary pauses where she'd suddenly be all happy again, before the crying restarted. Nothing we did could stop her crying. Feeding her, bathing her, massaging her, singing to her, bouncing her, rocking her, cuddling her. None of it made any difference. When she was crying she would also fart a lot - as though the farting hurt her. It was pretty horrific - probably the hardest thing I've ever had to cope with.

Anyway, we tried so many things to help her, so I thought I'd do a series of posts about what we tried and what worked. First up: Infacol. This orange-flavoured syrupy substance apparently helps babies bring up wind by binding together all the trapped bubbles of air in their stomachs and making them easier to burp up in one go. It was the first thing we tried, and we used it religiously before every feed for two months. Did it help? I don't know. We spoke to our GP about it and she said that its real value is in calming the parents down as they believe they are doing something to help. She seemed very dismissive of it. We stopped using it after about eight weeks and I can't say that it made any difference when we gave it up. But by then, she was bigger and found burping easier. Daphne definitely liked it/the taste - and it always helped calm her down when we pipetted it into her mouth. So in that sense, I guess it had a soothing effect and was of some benefit.

As for Gripe Water - people have sworn by this for years. We only tried it a few times, mostly after she'd eaten and was screaming with wind, and again, it had the magical effect of distracting her for a few minutes. But otherwise, I think it did less than Infacol. It's also a pain in the arse to administer as it doesn't come with any kind of dropper device so you have to try to give it to the baby on a spoon, but it's ridiculously sticky and goes everywhere. In the good old days when we were kids it had alcohol in it, and so it basically got your baby so drunk she feel asleep. Not sure why they had to take the alcohol out but probably something to do with the WHO or the EU spoiling everyone's fun. Only kidding. Anyway I actually have half a bottle of it left so that shows you how little use it was for us.

If you have a baby with colic, I think both Gripe Water and Infacol are worth a try, but I do think what's more important is trying to work out why your baby is crying. If it's this 'period of purple crying' thing, then these are unlikely to have any effect, and really, you just have to ride it out (although I will say that not enough is said about overstimulating babies - why don't they warn you that tiny babies' brains can hardly cope with anything?!). However if it's a more obvious digestion issue, then they may help. But what helped us more with that was Colief, of which I'll write more in the next post...

Read Part Two of The Colic Diaries >

Read Part Three of The Colic Dairies >

THE RIVAL, my novel about career and motherhood, is on sale now. You can find out more about THE RIVAL here, and order here if you want to make my day. UNFOLLOW ME will be published in June.