colic baby

12 Simple ways to soothe a colic baby

If your baby has prolonged, frequent, and intense crying, or if they are extremely irritable despite appearing healthy in every way, they probably have colic. 

Colic can be one of the most frustrating things for parents. It often has infants crying for no apparent reason, and no amount of soothing seems to bring them any relief. The good news, though is that there are several things that you can do to make the situation a little easier.

This article will focus on the simplest of these methods.  

What you need to know about your baby’s colic

Colic usually starts at around the second or third week of life, peaking between the sixth and eighth weeks. 

The good news about it is that it is a temporary condition: it usually goes away on its own by the 3rd to 4th month. 

That said, when dealing with it, it can be a source of extreme frustration for parents as well as everyone else in the home. 

It is characterized by regular instances of crying, usually in the evening for about three or more hours. This will happen at least three times a week. Unlike regular crying, though, colic cannot be stopped by sessions of feeding, rocking, diaper changes, or burping. 

colic baby

No one quite knows exactly what causes colic. It is often attributed to many different causes, which is why there is no proven treatment for the condition. Here are some of the potential causes of colic that have been proposed: 

  • Gas, or the presence of trapped air bubbles in the digestive system
  • A growing digestive system where muscles often spasm involuntarily
  • Hormonal issues that can lead to belly pain and crankiness
  • Too much stimulation or sensitivity to light or noise
  • A developing nervous system
  • An early form of childhood migraine
  • Excitement, fear, or frustration

Whatever the cause may be, there are some things you can do to shorten the duration of the crying episodes. These will be highlighted in this article. 

How to soothe a colic baby

Here are 12 simple methods you can use: 

  1. Warm up the baby’s tummy

If your little one is suffering from colic, try warming their tummy using a hot water bottle or a warm towel. This sensation has proven quite effective for a lot of mums. 

colic baby

  1. Swaddling and cuddling

Creating an environment that is similar to the womb for your baby goes a long way in soothing them when they are crying. It can also help soothe bouts of colic. Swaddling your baby in a special baby swaddle would be ideal. However, if you do not have one of these lying around, you can still use a regular soft blanket to the same effect. Be sure to wrap your baby’s arms snugly against their sides but still leave room for some movement. 

  1. Rocking the baby

Babies love being rocked. If your baby has colic, you could try rocking them rhythmically to soothe them. You can do this using your arms or in a cradle. The smooth motion helps to keep them calm, which might just do the trick when you are dealing with colic. Additionally, being close to them as you rock them is highly comforting. Some mums have even found that this close contact and holding the baby for longer during the day helps reduce the wailing in the evening.  

  1. Tummy massage

Massaging is an effective way of relaxing your baby. Physical contact is comforting to babies because it stabilizes their breathing, helps make breastfeeding successful, improves their heart rate, and enhances parent-child bonding. This, in turn, decreases the periods of irritation and discomfort your baby experiences throughout the day, reducing the colic in the evening. 

colic baby massage

  1. Feed them in the right position

When feeding your little one, position them so that they are facing you. Their head, shoulders, and hips should be aligned. There are several positions you can assume to achieve this, and it works with both breastfeeding and bottle feeding. 

breastfeeding colic baby

Also, consider investing in a good nursing arm pillow to help give your baby and yourself a little extra support and comfort. 

  1. Lay the baby on their tummy

You could also try laying your baby on their tummy across your lap or stomach. This change in position may help calm them down. 

While at it, you can also rub their back in small, circular motions. Not only is this soothing, but it may also help the baby pass gas. 

Spending time on their tummy will also help them develop stronger shoulder and neck muscles. However, please make sure that you only put your baby on their tummy when they are awake and while you are monitoring them closely.    

tummy time

  1. Using monotonous soothing sounds

Monotonous rhythmic sounds help soothe babies. They do not like anything loud. Consider having some white noise in the background to calm them down. For example, you can use a fan or a hairdryer. The white noise reminds them of fetal water. As it mimics womb-like sounds, it also helps calm them down and helps them sleep for longer.  

  1. Staying calm

When trying to soothe your newborn, you need to stay calm. Having a colic baby can be overwhelming but you have to remember that your mood and the general atmosphere around you also affect your baby’s mood. If everyone is nervous and frustrated, the baby will probably end up crying even louder. 

  1. Rule out other potential sources of distress

Sometimes, the crying could simply be a result of something within your control. Are they hungry or tired? Do they need a diaper change? Is there something agitating them? If you take care of this, it might help soothe them. 

  1. Experiment with your diet

If you are breastfeeding, try eliminating dairy products and gas-inducing vegetables such as cauliflower and cabbage from your diet. You could also reduce your caffeine intake and then monitor your baby’s response. If there is still no change in a couple of weeks, you can revert to your normal diet.

  1. Burp the baby

Excess gas may be one of the causes of colic. Getting rid of this excess gas, therefore, may help soothe your baby. Burping them frequently during feedings may prove effective for you.  

  1. Switching to formula

Your baby’s colic may partly be a result of discomfort from an allergic reaction or milk protein intolerance. If this is the case, you should consider switching to an elemental formula or formula with a different protein source that is easier for them to digest. 

You’ll have to monitor your baby’s response to see if there is any improvement. It usually takes about two days to notice a change. Before making the switch, though, be sure to invest in a vacuum-free feeding bottle and consult your GP before settling on a particular formula.  

How do I carry my child during a colic attack?

When carrying your colic baby, you should position them such that the head is higher than the rest of the body. A good nursing pillow should help with this. You should also place their tummy adjacent to your forearm. Doing this helps to get rid of excess gas. If you have a rocking chair, you could also hold the baby gently in your forearm and rock them smoothly to soothe them. 

rocking colic baby

When do I go to the GP with my baby?

You should go to your doctor when your baby starts crying in a way that shows they are in pain. You should also schedule a visit if your baby has not had any difficulty sleeping before but now has trouble sleeping, or if the crying occurs not only in the evening but also at different times of the day. 

At the end of the day, though, it’s all about relying on your intuition. If you feel that crying is not a result of colic, consult your GP about it. 

Final thoughts

When comforting your colic baby, be sure to keep an eye out for techniques that yield good results. Build up upon these and you will soon have an arsenal of things that you can do depending on the situation. 

The above information is not intended to replace medical advice. Therefore, do not treat it as such. Be sure to consult your GP as needed.

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