This post should not be construed as providing medical advice or any advice whatsoever. My only intention is to share my own experiences so that others might find some hope in their own situation.
I have had two colicky babies and two others with sensitive stomachs that caused severe spitting up. Different people define colic differently, but more or less it’s a situation where a young baby cries incessantly for several hours a day, day after day after day. Most babies outgrow colic within the first few months. In fact, some definitions limit colic to situations where the crying stops after three months.
The best help for colic that I found came from another mom, but the best official help I found came from Dr. Sears. He has lots of great resources on a page called "Coping with Colic." He calls colic "the hurting baby" so that it is less easy to dismiss.
Just because colic generally goes away on its own does not mean it should be ignored. Colic is a symptom, not a condition. There are some high-need babies who cry unless they are held, and Dr. Sears distinguishes them from colicky infants, but I would argue that some babies who stop crying when held are still in pain; they just cope better when held. I had one like that, and another who cried no matter what.
I encourage you to read all of the information on the Dr. Sears colic page. He has many suggestions for what may be causing the crying and what may help alleviate the discomfort. I will tell you what worked for me, and perhaps it may shed some light on your own situation.
What I have found through my own experience, and sharing it with other moms, is that many, many babies do not tolerate dairy, soy, and sometimes a host of other foods. If you are bottle feeding, this may mean that you will have to switch for awhile to Nutramigin, a special formula that contains neither dairy nor soy. It’s expensive, but you owe it to your baby to try it to see if it resolves the problem. If your baby’s stomach is extremely sensitive, even this may not resolve the problem completely, but ask your doctor to see if it’s worth trying. If you’re nursing, the solution is easier and less expensive but much more inconvenient (but it’s also more possible to completely resolve the problem since you can customize what you’re feeding your baby).
Nursing moms who suspect dairy, soy or other foods might be causing colic must eliminate those foods (while still of course maintaining a healthy diet). One of my spitters got almost completely better when I eliminated dairy from my own diet. My first colicky child improved when I eliminated dairy, but I think I probably needed to go further than I did. My second colicky child had terrible colic, along with sometimes copious spitting up and sometimes lots of gassiness. Eliminating dairy did not help, and I didn’t know of anything else to eliminate. I saw the food list at the Dr. Sears site, listing possible colic-causing foods, but the list seemed daunting so I passed it by. (I did find one site that claimed that nothing I ate could possibly be passed to the baby in any form that would cause a problem. Please don’t believe anything like that that you may read! I am amazed at the nonsense about breastfeeding that is claimed by people who believe they are being scientific.)
Enter another mom, who gave me a spreadsheet she made with her own kids identifying forbidden and allowed foods. I was desperate, so I followed her list and then modified as seemed necessary. In the end, I ate rice, meat, pasta, lettuce, black olives, all-natural lunch meat, cheerios, homemade tortillas, raw almonds, rice milk, and that was about it. No seasonings but salt. No sauces but olive oil. I stuck to this diet for months, and it worked wonders. When I ate something I shouldn’t have, the baby got sick and screamed. When I was good, he was happy. Figuring out what caused him problems took time and patience because there’s a delay between mom eating a food and the baby reacting to it, and there’s no way to be sure how long that delay is. In a few cases, I eliminated foods I may not have needed to because it just wasn’t worth it to try them. Each time I ate a problem food, days of screaming was the result.
Different foods were problems for different reasons with us. Any citrus, vinegar, or other acidic food caused severe stomach pain. Any food high in fat or sugar caused gas, and this included carrots or fruit. Yeast or foods made with yeast caused problems because yeast is often treated with an acid to preserve it (at least I think that’s why it was a problem). Dairy and soy made him throw up.
My second colicky baby did eventually outgrow his food sensitivities, mostly. But it took a long time. When he started baby food, we couldn’t use most jarred fruits because of the acid used to preserve them. Even at 15 months he couldn’t tolerate hot dogs, citrus, and similar foods. However, now he handles pretty much everything except maybe the hot dogs and similar foods with lots of chemicals in them.
So don’t despair if you are facing colic! There is a reason for it, and you may be able to find it and resolve it.