Thursday, April 5, 2012

Does Colic Play a Role in the Development of Trust Disorders? (The Importance of Medical History Reports for Adoptive and Foster Parents)

by John and Diane

Your son or daughter is showing all the signs of having a trust disorder but you have always been a loving and nurturing parent.  It can’t be! The doctors must be wrong, the teachers must be wrong, the symptoms and diagnosis and behaviors don’t add up.

However, your child exhibits all the signs of an attachment disorder such as an aversion to physical affection, control issues, anger problems, difficulties showing genuine love towards others and the failure to show guilt and remorse (source:

Then the doctor asks you this puzzling question: “Did your baby have colic?”

The answer to this question is helpful in diagnosing attachment disorders because the medical community is beginning to understand how trust disorders develop.

Under usual circumstances, you bring your baby home from the hospital, where he was taken care of and monitored and where all his needs were met instantly. Then the infant goes home and the parents love the baby so much that they dote on him, checking his diaper every two minutes, anticipating his needs, feeding the little one constantly, holding him, comforting him, making sure he is calm, comfortable and dry.

The baby thinks he is in paradise where all his needs are being met. He feels safe and has a sense of inner peace. The child begins to get a sense of his Mother and Father and other family members and understands how the family unit cares and nurtures him.

Now, a baby who has colic feels only discomfort and confusion. The infant feels like he is out in this new world on his own and that no one is doing anything for him. He shows his suffering to his Mother and Father by crying in a never-ending cycle which doesn’t stop long enough for the him to feel as though his needs are being met.  Hence, the little one does not feel that comfort and security that the “normal” baby feels because his periods of peacefulness are broken up by these chaotic periods of crying and discomfort.  He feels abandoned .

Once the colic subsides, the baby still does not feel secure. The parent must go back and begin to nurture the infant as they would a newborn. This is often more difficult because parents often are back to work by this time, leaving the tot in day care or in the care of others much of the day.  This prevents the nurturing and bonding necessary to rebuild the attachment broken during colic.

 The other obstacle to attachment is the parent’s new modified response to the baby’s cry. Although a normal response to an infant’s cry is to respond in a nurturing way, once a baby has colic and the cries cannot be quieted by attending to the child’s needs, the parent can begin to associate the cry with frustration and therefore tunes out the cries. Parents begin to take turns attending to the baby and see the efforts as more of a chore than they may have initially.

The child is also a bit older now than a newborn, and from my own experiences with my colicky baby, the older child’s cries may not be as attended to because they are now on a feeding schedule and you have learned how often you need to change diapers etc.  You don’t have that constant-check-the-newborn-over-attention- issue that actually helps create the attachment.

Unfortunately, after your baby has colic that is exactly where you have to be mentally and emotionally again with your child. You have to get back to that “newborn nurturing” stage.  You’ll notice that after colic your baby doesn’t seem to care who is feeding him or holding him, and you may not feel the attachment to your baby either. Rebuilding that attachment is vital to the relationship between you and your offspring in the future and to the ability for your child to thrive and succeed throughout his life.

Information on whether or not an incoming foster child or adoptive child has had colic as an infant or toddler is important for caregivers or adoptive parents as it can call attention to a previously undiagnosed trauma, attachment or trust disorder (depending on what you want to call it.)  Having this information is important in how you deal with your new family member and learn to support their special needs.

God has helped me to learn that we must always give ourselves another chance and love with all our hearts, so starting over is always an option. Nurturing to build safety and security for the child is the first step. ( More to come…)

 Image: Flickr: License
Attribution Some rights reserved by valentinapowers


  1. Very interesting I had not thought about the consequences of colic.

  2. Yah! It makes sense really if you think about it, RAD happens when neglectful parents ignore crying children (in theory) so of course, it could happen with a colicky baby who would feel un-attended to, even if the parent tries to help, but cannot.

  3. Great blog you've got here. It's packed full of lots of information!

    Colic in Babies