Beware The Toddler Colic

This is the update I know so many of you are waiting on- the “How Is The Toddler Adapting,” post. I’ll be honest, I hesitate to type this. You think my birth stories are terrifying? My recovery stories are great birth control? Ha! This may be worse. I was thinking of holding off, seeing if things get better, but since when have I been one to color things rosy and unrealistic around here?


So yeah, it’s not been fun. I don’t have much time to go into detail because I type this while Kendall tears apart his room during his mandatory “rest” time in which I lock him in there and thank God we’ve bolted all furniture to the walls. Why? Because he’s decided not to nap. AWESOME.Β And not just not to nap, but to fight any and all needed sleep with every ounce of his being. So much so, that it sort of confuses me why he doesn’t need *more* sleep from wearing himself out with all the anti-sleep antics.

Also? He doesn’t want to eat.

Take that back.

He doesn’t want to eat anything other than fruit and candy and the occaisional piece of bread << but THAT he wants a lot of. He never stops grazing and asking for “snacks.” NEVER.

But, the worst are the incessant tantrums, the horrific screaming, the defiance, the non-stop negotiating.

And I know what you might be thinking. He’s adjusting. He needs more positive attention, ignore the negative. He needs structure. He needs love.

I assure you, we are doing everything in our power to provide all of that, to do all of that, to not LOSE OUR EVER LOVING MINDS. We are trying. We really, really are.

And that’s what makes it so much worse. I’m seriously watching episodes of Super Nanny looking for genuine help, not just pointing and laughing and judging and wondering how those parents could ever let their kids act that way. I feel like I’ve tried everything.

The good news is he doesn’t lash out toward Leyna. He’s never been aggressive with her, though he’s not overly affectionate with her, either. He’s still pretty meh about her, I guess. It’s possible he doesn’t quite grasp that she’s here to stay yet. (I sort of wonder how much of this has to do with his adjustment to our new family dynamic and how much has to do with his age. Many of my friends with kids the same age who don’t have new babies tell me they’re experiencing similar, mind-numbing struggles.)

He’s a sweet kid, he is. He tells me he loves me, unsolicited, all the time now, and he’s amazingly… big… and grown up now. I love him with all my heart, but at the same time, right now, I’m more frustrated with him than I can ever remember being. And remember, he had COLIC.

My anxiety before having Leyna was so misplaced. I was terrified of bringing her home because how would I deal with HER? How would I devote all my attention to her when she’s fussy and not sleeping and doing all the things Kendall did as a newborn? Turns out, she’s not the one that needs all the attention and time. It’s him. It’s STILL him.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m a more confident mother to a newborn this time around, if she’s just a much easier baby, or if she gets neglected more than I’d like to admit, but she doesn’t get close to the amount of time and attention Kendall did as a newborn and still does. I can’t let myself feel guilty about that right now, though. I don’t have time for guilt.

I know (hope) it’s going to get better. So many of you have told me this much, and I really appreciate all the words of support. I HAVE to believe this.

It’s like going through colic with him all over again. I keep having to remind myself, “This, too, shall pass.” And though I can’t treat him with gripe water anymore and white noise doesn’t seem to help, I have contemplated getting a swaddle blanket in his size. Oh yeah, they make them.

You say straight jacket, I say swaddle. Po-TA-to, Po-TAH-to.

Kendall is 2 years and nearly 9 months and Leyna is 4 weeks old.

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  1. It has to be the age. My daughter can throw a temper tantrum that rivals anything you’ve ever seen, and she is an only child.

    I’ve decided the best way to get through the terrible twos is wine & chocolate. Because they suck.

  2. It’s not just Kendall. My daughter was born a few days before Leyna and my 2.5 yr old son ADORES her. Apparently he hates me. He has had a few weeks of intense acting out and violence toward me, with noticeably less hostility toward his father. His already-pitiful eating went down the tubes. To be fair, his behavior pre-baby had already been rough, so maybe it’s an age thing. All I know is it caused me to crack open a beer once I finally wrestled him into a nap one afternoon.

    What’s great is that his daycare teachers say his behavior has improved markedly since she came along. He really is saving it all for me. That said, things are starting to look up, so I have faith that it won’t last forever.

    At any rate, empathy doesn’t help, I know, but you aren’t alone. Hang in there.

  3. Hang tight. You’re right. This too shall pass. He’ll adjust. You’ll adjust. And suddenly you’ll wake up one morning and think “hey! no tantrums all week!”

    In the meantime make sure you give yourself plenty of “time out” so you can hold on to that sanity!

  4. Oh thank god it’s not just my kid!!! We don’t have a new baby, just his twin 1 yr old brothers and you pretty much perfectly discribed him. From the grazing and snacking to the “sleep battles” this is my 2.5 yr old exactly!

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  6. I posted on FB a few days ago as well but as you said, this too shall pass. I went through this with my son who was 2 and a half when our daughter was born. It was crazy. Thankfully my son still napped. I ended up enrolling him in preschool so that he got some time to socialize with others his age and it ended up being my saving grace. Also, playdates. I made friends with a woman across the street whose kids are the exact same age as mine and we got together multiple times a week. She didn’t judge me for the piles of unfolded laundry and neither did I, we understood where the other was at.

  7. I expected to write the same post when my 2nd was born, but somehow the baby made my toddler a better everything.

    However, the eating frustrations I completely agree with. I have just given up. He only wants and eats hot dogs and chicken nuggets. Better than starving?

    I hope it gets better soon for you.

  8. C does the snack thing too. I was blaming it on being with grandparents for the better part of 2.5 months, but maybe it’s the age.

  9. honestly, i can say that he sounds *exactly* like my 2.5 year old right now. she’s adjusting to things too – her dad is in alberta working while it’s just the two of us. but the screaming throw down defiant etc etc EVEN THE SNACKING thing – man. this is spot on, this is what she’s doing right now.
    it’s exhausting, it makes me feel very guilty. i’m sorry that you’re (and your husband and kendall are)dealing with this. it’s hard. <3

  10. I think it’s the age FOR SURE. I remember clearly how much I hated my oldest’s 3rd year…..and how much I’m dreading doing 3YO with my twins (March). Good luck. Glad Leyna is an easy baby.

  11. Both of my kids didn’t stop being constant assholes until they were 3. Then it was like a switch. They were able to comprehend more about the situation and could be “talked” to instead of always doing a physical (time out) resolution. I hope he hits 3 and is your little angle once again.

  12. This. Just…This. I have so little patience for Ryan these days. I need him to be so much more independent these days and I feel like I’m constantly putting Paige down to get another glass of juice, snack bar, whatever. I wish I could get through to him that Mommy had three hours of sleep and doesn’t have the patience to prevent a tantrum because we don’t have the exact kind of “Kitty Snack Bar” that he wants.

  13. We are going through the exact same thing with my daughter now. She is turning 3 in March and lately will throw fits at the drop of a hat. We, like you, have tried everything we can think of. It is frustrating. I don’t remember going through this with my son (who is now 5 1/2). And it just blows my mind how all of a sudden she’s on the floor screaming her head off because she didn’t want a barette in her hair, or maybe she didn’t get the snack she was begging for. I find that I put myself in time out a lot these days. Be strong. It will get better.

  14. smurfetteinred on

    I assure you, its the age. I was dealing with nearly the exact same scenario when my son was almost the same age. I had my first real online forum breakdown at that time – sure there was something wrong with me/ him/ our parenting and double sure he would drop a sofa on our daughter when she was born after he whipped a block at me so hard I thought he broke my finger. Like you, it didn’t seem to matter how much attention he got. I swear more attention actually made him worse.

    I can also assure you that at three and a half he is loads better than he was then. Fingers crossed that his behavior starts to look up for you soon.

  15. Sierra was 22 months when Max was born – that was 10 months ago. We still deal with a lot of tantrumy defiance (she’s now a little over 2.5) scream sessions. We went through the only wanting to graze or snack or live in mac n’ cheese & candy phase, we went through a good 2 months of horrible sleep phases (now she’s in a twin bed and thankfully that finally did the trick). She still has loads of time outs, and in some ways it’s gotten better, some ways it’s still the same.

    Max, my 2nd cried for 7 months. He wasn’t really colicy – he was just grumpy and clingy. He didn’t want me to put him down or be more than 2cm away from his being at any moment in time. Which was super awesome while we were potty training Sisi.

    At 7 months he stopped crying, Sierra played beautifully by herself for more than 5 minutes at a time (try 20 a few times a day? or more?), and suddenly I felt like I only needed 4 cups of coffee a day to keep up instead of non-stop-refillage.

    It does get better, but I think what I (and you) have experienced with this new life + toddler is just a malestrom of two terribly difficult times merged into one bonus-awful time for our 1st born children. They do adapt, but I think we have a ways yet with the tantrums – they just change (and I guess we cope and figure out how to better handle it), and it gets easier somehow.

    Good luck πŸ™‚ Hang in there!

  16. I hate to break it to you, but this doesn’t sound like trouble “adjusting” to me. It sounds like a good old case of the terrible twos! DS is similarly horrific on a daily basis.

    A wise woman once told me , “It’s the terrible twos, the trying threes and the freakin’ fours!” Unfortunately, when you say that it sounds like we are in for the long haul.

    I hope it gets better soon!! I have a 34 month old, an 18 month old and one due in July. I may very well lose my mind!!

  17. 1. If you put a paypal button up I’ll absolutely contribute to the xxl swaddler fund.

    2. I’m honestly feeling pretty good about our current sibling spacing strategy… Which is closer to 4 years difference than 3.

    3. Dude. Hugs and wine and shit.

  18. I think it’s the age. I’m reading, “Your Three-Year-old: Friend or Enemy” so that should tell you something.

    She says – and I’ve read elsewhere – that kids fall apart every 6 months. They’re golden at 2, a terror at 2 1/2, etc. My Ella is a little off, but there is definitely 6-month cycles. She was hard from 2 to 2 1/2 and it pretty much evaporated right at 2 1/2.

    One very strong recommendation in that book is to give yourself a break, get outside care for your kid, on a regular basis. A neighbor kid who can come play with him. Or take Leyna around the block in the stroller so he gets some 1-on-1 time.

    It seems the consensus here is that it’s not adjusting, it is the age. Knowing he’s just going to be a hellion no matter what, can you ignore him a bit more, knowing that all this loving isn’t really helping?

  19. I’m right there with you! The newborn IS the easy one, to think I was worried about doing the newborn thing again the second time. My little Mason has tested my patience in ways that he never had before. We are 3 1/2 months in and it is definitely getting better. I think consistency and routine was the key to moving us out of it. Hang in there!

  20. I’m gonna chime in and agree with all who’ve said “it’s the age.” My daughter is one month older than K, and you’re pretty much describing her – and my baby is 6 wks away from being born.

    We lost naps (or anything like a consistent, in-the-bed nap) a while ago. We lost actual meals a while ago. We started nuclear, 45-minute tantrums maybe a month ago. I spoke to some parents of older kids who told me that it isn’t the terrible two’s so much as the terrible stage that stretches from 2yrs9months – 4. Apparently at 4 they become angelic again.

    To the extent that it IS an adjustment issue – and let’s be honest, he’s not UNAWARE of this major transition in the family, so it has to be impacting him somewhat – I really recommend the book “Siblings without Rivalry.” Even if he’s more pissed at you guys than at his sibling, the book is really helpful in teaching parents how to communicate with kids who are frustrated/scared/angry, and how to deal with the behavioral fallout. I read it last week in prep for our own new addition and I feel a LITTLE less scared of dealing with Della’s freakouts.

    At any rate – hugs to you and good luck.

  21. my 2 year old still is ‘meh’ around his new baby brother (6 mos) and he doesn’t want anything to do with him…
    just one question, do you spank K? we use spankings as a threat and also as punishment. they help with his attitude…
    if you guys are not into that, you should try it and see if he responds to that better than “time out”…

  22. Oh, the meltdowns because of the snack bar. I can completely relate. Mine is not quite 2 1/2 years and prone to volcanic-teenage-girl mood swings. Some days she’s a sweet as can be (today), other’s it’s like she’s on speed (yesterday), and yet others I don’t know why I bother (all last week).

    It is so conforting to hear that it’s a phase. Because as parents, I think we tend to first look at ourselves (and our parenting choices) and try to figure out what we’re doing wrong. You know that saying “It’s not you, it’s me?” Well, these days it helps me to look at DD and think “It’s not me…it’s YOU.”

    And if I hear one more playdate parent with a younger kid say “oh, she’s a really emotional girl, huh?” one more time, I think I might just punch someone in the face. Yeah…I can’t wait to see their kids in 6 months.

  23. Oh it is not just you. Evan’s new thing is Willing Disobedience, as in “Evan, don’t touch that phone” *touches phone* “Evan, stop throwing that” *throws it* “Evan, please use your inside voice” *SCREAMING*. All while staring me dead in the eye and smiling. It is beyond frustrating. And it’s really hard to keep dragging him off to time out while I’ve got a baby on my boob all the time. I’m hoping in a couple months he’ll adjust and things can go back to regular old terrible toddler behavior instead of this.

    And yeah, my second baby is totally “easier” – if by easier you mean “gets left in the swing way too often because I’m caring for a toddler”. Poor second babies.

  24. This sounds all too familiar. I remember having this feeling after Jack was born that I literally could not deal with James. He was driving me crazy. I remember trying to take him out for dinner, just the 2 of us, and he threw a non-stop tantrum the entire time. It felt like nothing was working. It also seemed like the volume of his voice went up about 5 notches after Jack came home.

    There’s nothing you can do that you’re not already doing. The only thing that will make it better is time.

    You actually seem to be handling everything quite well. I let the guilt overtake me and it turned me into a basket case. Hang in there, he’ll get better.

  25. It has GOT to be the age! I was almost certain you were a fly on the wall at my house and this post was about my son. The non-stop snacking/grazing/eating is what drives me the craziest. My dishwasher is full before 5pm – my husband comes home and asks how there can possibly be so many toddler dishes in there already. Ethan is living on pepperoni, rice milk cheese (he’s dairy allergic), and fruit strips. I kid you not, this kid ate, at a minimum, 15 sandwich slices of pepperoni today. But you know what? It kept him happy and quiet for 20 minutes. And daily trip to the deli is worth those 20 minutes of peace!


  26. There is hope! I recommend the following book:
    Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood:Practical Parenting from Birth to Six Years

    I’m only on chapter 3 but started implementing the suggestions as I read & I’m in shock at the turn around my defiant 2 1/2 yr old son has made. In the past 3 days I’ve gone from doubting my ability to parent to feeling confident & in control. Plus I’m pregnant with sweet baby #2 so I need to figure this out now.

    Go to Love & Logic’s website for more info.

  27. We are right there with you. Brady hasn’t napped in months. He barely eats and throws tantrums daily. We’ve just learned to show him we’re more stubborn and we’ve *started* (keep your fingers crossed) to see progress. He finished his dinner last night, gladly took a bath, and was in bed by 9pm. these are all HUGE accomplishments. It does get better. Promise.

  28. Everyone is right- it gets better. Unfortunately it may take a year…sucky right? All my kids were like that from 3- 4 and a half. WORST YEARS EVER. I tried everything too. And you are right- they are still talented and sweet. My one son was way more intense though so I got him tested and found out he was on the autism spectrum, Now I have lots of support in dealing with the meltdowns and understand why they happen.
    I hope you find many moments to escape.

  29. Oh Jill. That first photo is absolutely priceless.

    It is such a big transition. A new baby literally rocked his world.

    We have been through all of this and more as we now have a 9-month-old. But I promise you it gets better. New challenges always arise but you’ll learn how to better manage two children as you have them for longer πŸ˜‰

    I feel so guilty sometimes about how much less one-on-one time I get to spend with each of my children. I feel like my second got the short end of the stick. But I know they’ll both be fine. As long as they can feel our love for them more than they can sense our frustration. I think you’re probably doing a fabulous job. But I know some days you can feel so defeated.

  30. TheFeministBreeder on

    Joining the chorus of people to say “It’s the age.” Julesy won’t eat jack shit except bread and yogurt. The kid avoids all food that looks suspiciously nutritious. His brother went through the same exact thing at this age too. Julesy has psycho tantrums that come out of NOWHERE and make NO logical sense (e.g. “Turn that off!!!” – “No, I want it back on!!!!” – “No, turn it off NOW!!!” – “NONONO, turn it back on!!!!”) and lather, rinse, repeat. Sometimes I worry he’s really going to hurt himself. I also wonder if he’s bipolar or something (seriously.) But then he can be so heartbreakingly sweet and adorable at times. It just hurts me to see him lose his mind like that. If it gets worse when his sister shows up, then I’m seriously moving out.

  31. Thank you for writing this, Jill.

    It helps me to feel better about my almost three year old who is a *NIGHTMARE* and I say that with love.

    I always thought kids that went ‘crazy’ were just undisciplined, neglected, etc. WRONG! My kid is disciplined, loved and paid attention to…he is *still* crazy! It’s a good thing God gives us so much love for our little offspring!! Good luck mama!

  32. Seriously. This is the story of my life. I could have written this with different baby names. Glad to know my house isn’t the only one battling psychosis.

  33. My kids do the snack all day thing, too. One thing that helped is that I set an alarm on my phone (ringtone for it is “Peanut Butter jelly Time) for a set lunch and snack time. So when the alarm goes off they know it’s time to eat.

    It gets better. He’s just learning and adjusting to being an autonomous person, learing where *you* end and *he* begins. Try to be as firm, kind, and consistent as possible and remember that kids this age don’t get abstract concepts, only very concrete ones.

  34. And I thought this was just happening to me! New baby girl is 6 wks old and son is 3 1/2 years old. No school issues – I have asked.

    This little girl is a lot needier than he was and getting really tired of hubby saying “I understand” – um, no you don’t have a freaking clue. I totally related to when you said at least they get to go to work. I start back to work in 1 week and I’m going to be working from home. I am petrified about how I’m going to juggle it all. My Ergo baby carrier will be here tomorrow and I aim to get her used to it.

    BTW, we have had eating issues with toddler for a while now – what gives? And how does this kid keep growing???

  35. I read somewhere that it takes a toddler roughly three months to forget he was ever an only child. Maybe that’s just how long it takes for them to adjust to a new normal. Here’s wishing you a great fourth trimester! No, really, my son acted out for a few weeks after we brought his little brother home, but then I think he got tired of it (or himself) and things settled down again.

  36. So, so true. This made me laugh so hard, if for no other reason than the little girl I nanny for was three when Ava was born, and I’ve been bringing her to work with me from the start, so there is a definitely sibling dynamic there. Toddler colic is such an appropriate name!

    Hoping it gets easier for you!

  37. I had to share this with my facebook friends – I feel like me, along with TONS of my friends are going through this exact thing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought of the ‘straight jacket’ idea. lol. And that whole ‘this too shall pass’ – well I hope it passes soon bc some days I think I might need that straight jacket for myself!

  38. Hi! I just found your blog via My Two Cats and I have enjoyed reading your tales of motherhood. I too have an almost 3 year old and a newborn who is 6 wks. We are dealing with the same issues! Our second baby is SO MUCH EASIER and the toddler is the struggle, which blows my mind too! πŸ™‚

  39. Hi, I just came across this post and I am wondering… has it gotten better? I am going through the exact same thing with my 2 1/2 year old (not eating, refusing sleep, extreme fits & violence from her when things don’t go EXACTLY her way.) We just started trying for another baby and suddenly I am completely panicked that there is no way I can go through this again because I am having such a difficult time with my daughter. She has never been easy (also had colic as an infant), but seriously this is the worst. Please tell me it has gotten better for you? My husband travels all the time so it’s just the two of us and I feel like I am going to lose my mind.

    • Ugh. I keep waiting to write a follow up post when I have super awesome news to share about him making a complete 180 and morphing into an angel child. He has not… yet. I mean, is he better than he was at 2.5? Yes, in certain ways. He’s able to communicate better with us. He understands consequences a little more. He’s more easily bribed. That said, he’s smarter, and he likes to negotiate, and he’s stronger, and he still throws epic tantrums. I wish I had better news for you!

      • Thanks for your honest reply. I know eventually she will outgrow this, but I am probably dealing with a lifelong “spirited” child, which is fine, she is definitely outspoken, much more than me and hopefully that will do her some good later in life πŸ™‚

        Are you managing okay with two kids? I still want to have another but am a bit hesitant with her recent behavior. I need to get her into preschool this fall so at least we have a break from each other because it seems only me that she throws her violent fits with. Yesterday there was a 30 minute hitting fit because I didn’t read the words on the page of her book EXACTLY the way she remembered them. Ugh

  40. I just googled, almost as a joke, “toddler colic”. Right after I googled, “why me. WHY ME” my child turned two last week and just as quickly morphed into some sort of Super Terrible Two. She now sleeps five hours a night, no naps, screams for 75% of the day, we used to go to the Y no problem, I have taken her three times this last week just so I could sit somewhere without screaming and take a shower, they call me after ten minutes, I can’t escape her!

    While I am glad reading though the comments nothing seems to be wrong with her, I am sad to read this might take a while. I might have to go back to work to keep my sanity.

    • O noes! Come very close because I’m only typing this in a whisper. He is 3 and 4 months-ish, and he’s been, dare I say, good lately. Of course, there are timeouts and meltdowns, but oh my, nothing like real toddler colic. Hang in there! So glad you found us so you know you’re not crazy.

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  42. This is exactly what I am currently going through. My son is 2 years 4 months, and my daughter is 2 months. He was colicky – She is an angel.
    Some days I want to pick him up, and throw him off of my balcony.
    I was actually going to speak to the doctor about his behaviour – but after reading this, I guess he’s normal. Or both our kids are whacked.


    Hanging in there…

  43. Wow, you have no idea what this post did for me last night. I’ve been at my wit’s end dealing with my 27 month old. His chronic meltdowns led me to google “toddler colic” and I found this and it has given me more peace than you can imagine. I guess it’s true that misery loves company, because I feel like I can finally stop blaming myself, my job, my parenting, my everything, and just live in the reality that this is what it is. He’s my second child (we have a 4 year old and a 3 month old as well), and while he wasn’t a colicky baby, he’s been the hardest, most impossible to placate toddler. I feel like I walk on eggshells around him just trying to avoid whatever might set him off: getting dressed, the wrong sippy cup, asking him to go potty, etc. Everything is a battle. And every battle is epic. But anyway, thanks to you and the comments, I feel like a weight has been lifted off of me.

  44. Jacqui Mccalister on

    We didn’t have another child and my son was still like this (very colicky too). The book “The Spirited Child” was helpful.

  45. There are actually loads of details like that to take into consideration. That may be a nice point to deliver up. I offer the ideas above as common inspiration however clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where the most important factor can be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around issues like that

  46. Patricia Baxter Smith on

    It milk……lactose intolerant …..went though the same thing with my grandson. We put him on lactose free milk and it was a miracle . He started the problem at 1 yr old, when he started milk. Didn’t eat …temper tantrums all day long. When we changed his milk after several months of scratching our heads …it all changed…he became normal!

  47. Heather Lykins Churney on

    Is there an update on this? This is my son and I desperately need help! Terrified to have another because of it! I DVR Supernanny too!

  48. 5ZUYKJ Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I am not sure I ad want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

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