Question: What’s worse than a colicky baby?
Woe to the mothers, fathers and guardians of a colicky baby. The constant crying, disruption and lack of sleep caused by that being’s colic can turn a happy household upside down.
Fortunately, there are solutions – though they may require extra time, patience and trial-and-error on your part.
Solutions for Soothing a Colicky Baby
Here are tips our doctors, staff and patients have found work best to soothe colicky babies over the years.
Verify that it’s really colic
It’s not unusual for infants to cry two-hours a day or more. However, if your baby cries for 3 or more hours a day, three or more days a week, for three or more weeks at a time – it may be colic. Take note of:
- When your baby cries and how long?
- How often/what the baby eats?
- How often baby poops and what it’s like (runny, hard, big, small, loose, etc.)?
- What you ate?
- Belly bloating, distension, gas?
- Cries are more ear-piercing or sharper/more intense?
Bring this information with you to the pediatrician so s/he can review it, ask questions and determine whether or not colic is the reason for baby’s discomfort.
Keep a food journal for yourself
Are you breastfeeding? If so, you’d be surprised at the effect your diet can have on the baby. Some of the worst offenders are fish, chocolates, cow dairy products and garlic. Read Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding to learn more about this topic. Keeping track of what you eat, along with when your baby eats/cries, can shed light on potential offenders.
Experiment with other formulas
If your baby is formula fed, s/he may be sensitive to certain proteins or ingredients. Switching to a brand designed for sensitive tummies may help. Discuss options with your pediatrician to see if s/he has any recommendations.
Create consistent, soothing bedtime rituals
Colicky babies are often temperamentally sensitive, and soothing mechanisms are key to their comfort. It’s important for babies to associate nighttime sleep as separate or different from daytime napping.
Creating consistent and soothing bedtime routines (dim lights, rocking, soft singing or music playing) provides the minimally-stimulating environment most colicky babies desire.
We realize the hesitancy to wake quiet, sleeping babies. However, research shows babies who oversleep during their naps are more likely to be fussy or downright upset in the evening/nighttime periods. Limiting daytime naps to less than three-hours can make for more restful nights.
From minimizing light and noise, to swaddling techniques – many parents find the best remedies for colic are those that limit or eliminate sensory stimulation that’s aggravating baby. Every baby is different so try to identify the stimuli that sets your baby off and limit those triggers when s/he seems agitated or fussy.
Note: Sometimes babies are sensitive to touch, which means the very act of you holding the baby or gently stroking its head/tummy/back actually makes things worse. Sometimes, leaving your baby alone in a dark or dimly lit room, without touch stimulus for 10-minutes or so, can help him/her fall asleep.
Always contact your pediatrician and schedule an appointment if you worry your baby has colic or is crying more often than normal.