10 Tips for Coping with Colic

10 Tips for Coping with Colic

Until you’ve experienced a colicky baby, it’s difficult to imagine the intensity. The crying can become frustrating to the point of total breakdown for parents whose natural instinct is to comfort and calm. But. nothing. seems. to. help.



About ¼ of babies will experience colic, defined as at least 3 hours of crying daily at least 3 days a week. Three hours of crying may not seem out of the ordinary for a baby, but parents of colicky babies can tell you—every minute of shrieking feels like an eternity.

According to pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene, "[p]arents are often conditioned to believe that if their child is crying, something is wrong, something that they should be able to fix. Fortunately, you can take solace in the fact that your child is probably otherwise healthy. Unfortunately for both baby and parents, doctors don't know what causes colic, what the disorder is, or how to cure it. They don't even know if colicky babies are in pain. But they do know that colic does not indicate the presence of a serious medical problem, and a certain amount of crying is normal and healthy. Still, to set your mind at ease, it may be helpful to take your child to the pediatrician to ensure all that wailing and weeping is not a sign of a medical problem. It can also be reassuring to keep in mind that most cases of colic go away by the time the child has reached three months of age."

Fortunately, there are many ways to help soothe your baby, even if you can't curb the crying completely. Every baby is different, so it's hard to know which tricks will work with your child. Our advice: try anything and everything within reason! And, try things in combination. Just keep trying because it's really all you can do!

Here are 10 tips for coping with colic:

1. Wear your baby. Whether you opt for a sling or simply choose to use your arms, holding your baby is a super effective and easy solution. Studies show that the more hours colicky babies are held, even before they get fussy, the less time they spend fussing and crying in the evening.

2. Get moving. Babies find motion soothing, so try all different types: swings, bouncy seats, walks, car rides - just move, move, move.

3. Massage. Gas bubbles can be really uncomfortable for a baby. And, as babies cry, they swallow more air, creating more gas, resulting in more pain, causing more crying, more gas, more pain—you get the picture. Massaging the abdomen can help relieve this discomfort - and massage in general is just really relaxing! Choose plant-based body oils that are either unscented or lightly scented with calming essentials like lavender.

4. Change your diet. According to Dr. Greene, for breastfed babies, eliminating certain foods from mom's diet can help. Cow’s milk, eggs, nuts, or wheat are the most likely to make a difference – especially if there is asthma, eczema or allergies in the family. For formula fed babies, he recommends trying a hypoallergenic formula.

5. Try a better bottle. Any bottle change can produce improvement in some babies, but increasingly you can find bottles designed specifically to help curb colic. These bottles have a different type of liquid/air exchange system that reduces how much air your baby swallows when drinking - which reduces gas bubbles, which reduces discomfort, which reduces crying.

6. Make some noise. Again, try a variety of soothing noises to see which one your baby responds to. Some common helpful sounds include: heartbeat recordings, white noise machines, the sound of ocean waves, gentle humming, and ssshhhing in the baby's ear (don't be afraid to do it quite loudly - you need to be louder than the crying!)

7. Swaddle your sweetie. To a baby, swaddling feels like a cozy, cramped, comforting womb. Wrap your wee one snug enough so she can't wriggle free to flail and fuss.

8. Magic mirror. Dr. Sears shares this technique that he says pulled his own babies out of many crying spells. “Hold a colicky baby in front of a mirror and let him witness his own drama,” says Sears. “Place his hand or bare foot against his image on the mirror surface and watch the intrigued baby grow silent.”

9. Stay calm. Marathon crying will certainly test the limits of your sanity, but remind yourself (repeatedly) that your child is not in any danger. Your instincts will say otherwise, but colic is not a serious medical condition. It’s noise. It’s a stage of development. It will pass.

10. Get help. A large part of coping with colic is ensuring you’re taking care of yourself. You need sleep. You need peace and quiet. You need “you” time. Ask family and friends to help watch your baby - even in small increments of time - so you can take a break. Just be sure to let them know the same information you’ve learned here. To a stranger, a colicky baby can seem like a 911 moment!

Remember, if your baby is colicky, it does NOT mean you are a bad parent. It should actually make you eligible for some kind of super-parent award! So, hang on - this too shall pass!

Do you have any colicky baby advice to share? Please do! It takes a village, right?

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Before undertaking any course of treatment, you should seek the advice of your physician or other health care provider.

We aim to provide you with the most honest and credible information possible. This article was reviewed for accuracy by The Honest Team and was written based on trusted sources that are linked at the bottom of the article.