8 Ways to Soothe a Baby With Colic
If your baby has colic, you might feel desperate for a solution. Babies who have colic cry a lot—typically, at least 3 hours a day at least 3 days a week—and seem uncomfortable. As a parent, you’d give almost anything to help your child find some relief.
There’s no cure for colic, but there are many things you can try to soothe your baby. How many of these baby colic treatments and home remedies have you tried already?
The womb is a baby’s first home and by the end of pregnancy, it’s a pretty tight fit. Perhaps that’s why babies love being wrapped snugly in a blanket.
Try swaddling your baby when the crying starts. Or, try swaddling your baby just before the usual period of crying. You can either use a specially made “swaddle blanket” (which usually has Velcro closures) or a regular baby blanket.
Research has shown that swaddling promotes sleep, and a 2004 study found that swaddling was more effective than massage in reducing crying in children with brain injuries.
Most babies find motion soothing. You’ll have to experiment to figure out which form of motion most effectively calms your child. Note: a technique that works one day may not be effective the next, so keep experimenting!
Try holding your baby to your shoulder and gently bouncing on the balls of your feet, while also rocking side to side. Or, drape your baby over your forearm and walk about the house. Getting tired? Put your baby in a baby swing.
Another option: a car or stroller ride.
When in the womb, babies are constantly exposed to sounds of the body, including the whooshing of blood and the steady beat of the heart. White noise—constant, calming background noise—helps some infants settle down and sleep. (Listening to white noise works for many adults too!)
You can buy white noise devices or use a white noise generating app on your phone. Or, you can plug in a fan, place baby near (but not on) a working clothes dryer or run a vacuum cleaner in the next room (really!).
Soft, loving touch has been shown to decrease physical stress and promote immune system activity. Touch also stimulates the release of the hormone oxytocin, which causes feelings of love, security and safety.
You can take an infant massage class or watch how-to videos online, but you don’t need to use any specific technique to release the power of massage. Try gently rubbing your baby’s belly in a circle, or rhythmically patting her back. You can also stroke your baby’s head and limbs.
5Baby Colic Drops
You can purchase simethicone gas drops (often marketed as “baby colic drops”) at almost any pharmacy or big box store. Simethicone breaks up gas bubbles inside the body, which might ease abdominal pain and make it easier for your baby to pass gas.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that simethicone drops are safe for infants and can be administered up to 12 times a day. However, there’s no scientific evidence to indicate that the drops are particularly useful for relieving colic.
If your baby has GERD, your doctor may recommend medication to help treat colic while the digestive system matures.
Food sensitivities are one possible cause of colic. If you are formula feeding, ask your healthcare provider about switching to another formula.
If you are breastfeeding, you might want to adjust your diet. Stimulants, including caffeine, which is present in coffee, cola and chocolate, can pass into the breastmilk and may trigger colic in some babies. Try cutting back on your intake for a few days. If your baby’s crying decreases, you want to reduce or eliminate caffeine consumption for a while.
7Taking a Break
Stress is contagious. Even very young infants can sense the emotions of their caregivers, so if you find yourself getting anxious or irate, step away. Put your baby in a safe space (such as the crib) and take 10 minutes to yourself in another room, ideally, one where you can’t hear the crying. Take some deep breaths, meditate or listen to music—whatever works for you. When you are calm, you can go back to your baby.
It’s also a good idea to schedule regular breaks.
While colic is quite common, all babies are different, and sometimes, an out-of-the-box solution is the one that works. So, feel free to experiment. Try turning up the music instead of turning it down. Or, undress your baby and let her lay on a waterproof pad in a warm room. Try giving your baby a warm bath or apply a warm towel to her tummy or stroke it gently over her face. Keep in mind that colic typically resolves on its own by 3 to 4 months; in the meantime experiment to find what soothes your little one.