What is Colic? How to Soothe a Baby with Colic

Colic can be a parent’s worst nightmare, bringing with it at least three hours of intense crying per day where your child is seemingly inconsolable, but we really don’t understand what causes it. Some think that it’s gas causing abdominal pain, while others think it’s simply a growing digestive tract; and still others think it could be caused by an allergy or other food intolerance.

Regardless of the cause, though, the result is the same: an upset baby and an exhausted parent. The good news for parents of a colicky baby is that up to 40% of all newborns will suffer colic, and symptoms should not persist after your child is three to four months old (if they do, the problem could be something worse. Please consult your doctor). However, as all of us who have had a crying baby around know, that isn’t helpful now!

While there isn’t a cure-all for this problem because the cause is relatively unknown, we’ve still heard of a few things that some people swear will soothe your newborn.

1. A Change of Diet

As a breastfeeding mother, everything you eat finds its way into your milk. Some suggest that colic can be caused from an intolerance to something that the breastfeeding mother is eating, and a lot of women have success treating their baby’s colic by switching to a hypoallergenic diet that excludes dairy, wheat, and eggs.

If your child is formula-fed, try changing them to a hypoallergenic formula for a week and see if their symptoms improve. Whether you’re changing your diet or their formula, if the symptoms don’t improve after one week, it is likely something else that’s bothering your baby.

2. Proper Bottle Use and Burping

Another theory as to the cause of colic is excessive gas, so taking more frequent breaks to burp your baby may prevent gas related pain. Also, if you bottle feed, take the time to ensure you’re feeding them properly. Be attentive and don’t let them suck too much air from the bottle, and make sure the flow is fast enough from the bottle’s nipple.

If the flow is too restrictive, babies are more likely to suck in air whilst bottle feeding. There are a wide variety of bottles available, so try some different brands. Chances are that certain ones work noticeably better for your baby.

3. Swaddle and Lower the Lights

Some babies simply need less stimulation and can become overwhelmed. Try swaddling your newborn and moving into a dimly lit room. Try a quiet room first, but some babies respond well to sound and adding some soft music to the space may be even more soothing.

If you’re dealing with a colicky baby during the night, it might be wise to look into something like a cosleeping bed, to keep the baby near. Sometimes, a little comforting will do the trick for a little bit, and safely being close to you even while sleeping could be worth trying. Be sure to check out more of our guides and information about co-sleeper cots to find out which bed is best for your family.

4. Go for a Ride

Every parent has probably heard of the car-seat trick, and it really does work. For many infants, the motion and vibration of a car ride can have a powerful soothing effect. You can often get the same results by going for a walk with the stroller, with a baby swing, or a vibrating seat. If one method doesn’t work, try a different one! Every child is different, your baby might love the swing but hate the car, or vice versa, but movement is one of the most effective ways to sooth a newborn.

5. Try a Warm Bath and a Massage

While every parent could benefit from some pampering, your baby can too. Sometimes a warm bath and a light massage can relax tense muscles or work some gas through their system, greatly improving their comfort and lowering the volume for a bit. Warmth encourages sleep as well, as an additional soothing bonus!

Colic is tricky, and finding the right solution for you and your child can take time. Some parents even find themselves just riding it out to the three to four-month-old range, but enduring three months of crying can be tough.

If you need to take some time, do not hesitate to ask for some help. Family and friends are usually more than happy to spend some time with the baby so that you can have a bath, get some sleep, or simply take some time to cool off and be away from the crying for a little while.

Always get the advice of a doctor if things get too much, but remember, colic is not forever, and soon your baby will return to being happy and bouncy again!

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