If your new baby cries excessively or inconsolably, you may be dealing with colic, which affects up to 20 percent of newborns, usually in the 3-12 week age range. Doctors haven't agreed upon a cause or cure, but that hasn’t stopped our moms from discovering a slew of strategies that soothe and relieve the discomfort a colicky baby experiences—not to mention the fraying of parental nerves.
Don't tear your hair out; instead, try some of the ideas in the list below, where we’ve rounded up twelve of the most common techniques shared by Circle of Moms members.
- Baby MassageBaby massage moves that apply gentle pressure to the stomach can sometimes help a colicky baby pass gas. Helen B., whose daughter had colic, recommended one popular technique: “I would place a small cushion from the couch on my lap and then lay her tummy-down across it with her knees hanging off the side of my leg. Then I would rub her back quickly in a circular motion.” Other successful strategies involve moving her baby’s legs: “Laying her on her back and grasping her feet with one hand, I would raise her feet up and towards her face. This would cause her knees to bend in towards her tummy. I would do this as well as gently rock her from side to side, using her feet kind of like a steering wheel.”
- Motion and VibrationCars, strollers, swings, vibrating chairs...all kinds of motion may help soothe a colicky baby. Nancy C. shared: “My daughter was colicky until she was 6 months old... she cried non-stop all day and night. We finally ended up putting her in a swing and the motion helped calm her down.” And as Chrystal C. notes, walking can soothe both baby and parent: “Likely the movement of the stroller will lull the crying baby…Walking is great for your endorphins as well, and can relieve some of that stress.”
- Burping CompletelyVery thorough burping may calm colicky babies. Della M., whose second child had colic, suggests: “Try taking longer—sometimes much longer—to get all the air out. Hold him upright against you and rub and pat his back. Sometimes he will let loose with such a burp it is shocking. Burp halfway through the feeding and again right after.”
- Gripe WaterCountless moms swear by gripe water as a colic cure. Cassidy H. recalls: “When my daughter was colicky, we tried gripe water. It worked miracles! We just put it in her bottles…you can get it at Walgreens or probably any other pharmacy.”
- 5. Repetitious SoundsHair dryers, clothes dryers, white noise machines, fans, running water… all kinds of repetitious sounds may be the magic solution for a colicky baby. Additional ideas from Krista S. include “saying ‘shhhhh’ lightly in her ear, humming as you hold her next to you…laying her over your heart so she can hear your heartbeat, or even a stuffed animal that plays ‘sounds from the womb.’” Meanwhile Kathy G., a mother of five, is one of several moms who swear by another household appliance: “The thing that finally helped me with my colicky daughter was the vacuum cleaner. I would leave it plugged in, and when she started to cry I would turn it on and she would stop like a miracle!"
- SwaddlingSwaddling a colicky baby can provide comfort by making her feel warm and secure. Karla D., a mother of two children, advises: “Try taking a blanket and putting it in the dryer for a few minutes to warm it up and wrap him in it.”
- Body ContactSeveral moms advised that close, continued body contact helped soothe their colicky babies. As Monique M. recalled: “Holding him close and tight while walking around with him helped to release gas.” If you have more than one child or need to get things done around the house, a hands-free wrap, sling, or baby carrier will enable you to attend to everything at once.
- ProbioticsRecent studies have found evidence that probiotics may soothe a colicky baby. Mandie S. concurs: “My pediatrician suggested a probiotic...it's called BioGaia! It's a miracle worker. My baby had colic really, really, really bad and after two days of giving her five drops in a little bit of formula or breastmilk...she was sleeping through the night and a happy baby.”
- Medication“I tried the Mylicon drops," shared Kisha D. "Worked like a charm." Many Circle of Moms members successfully soothed colicky babies with medications ranging from Mylicon and Infancol to stronger drugs prescribed by their pediatricians.
- Change Your DietSeveral breastfeeding Circle of Moms members found that eliminating commonly irritating foods from their diet (such as milk, citrus, caffeine and chocolate) improved their colicky babies' conditions. Mother of two Jen. L shared: “I found that I needed to keep a food diary to figure out what upset my baby.”
To rule out a dairy allergy, Joleen C. recommends: “If you are breastfeeding, stop eating milk products and drinking milk. If you are using a formula, try a soy-based one instead. This made all the difference in the world for me.”
- Switch Formulas or BottlesSeveral moms, including Denise C., found that switching to a senstive formula like Nutramigen was succesful: “Within 24 hours it made a big difference. She's been on it for three weeks now and her crying episodes have decreased in frequency and duration.”
Meanwhile Alisa N. found switching bottles helped soothe her colicky son: “Dr. Brown's bottles are the best thing you can find. It was wonderful. His gas drops were only needed at night and then he actually slept almost through the night and he used them until he was off the bottle. They have different sizes and nipples.”
- Relax“The best thing you can do for your baby is to keep calm,” shared Sivuyisiwe V. “It’s painful and frustrating to see her in pain, but she can sense your frustration and she cries more not only from the pain but you’re your emotional state.”
Babies can sense your tension, so it's important to escape once in a while, whether that means going outside for a few minutes of fresh air or calling in a family member so you can take a breather. And of course, as Missy W. advises: “Remember that colic isn't something that lasts forever. It DOES run it's course and IT WILL end."
Looking for more advice on colic or other infant conditions?
Whether you're looking for information on cradle cap, eczema, GERD, or diaper rash, Circle of Moms has countless conversations on all kinds of baby conditions and illnesses. While you should always consult your pediatrician when your baby is ill, connecting with other moms who have gone through similiar experiences can be a great comfort too!