When your baby is crying and won’t stop no matter what you do, it can be concerning for any new parent. Once you’ve checked all of the potential reasons like milk sensitivity, hunger, tiredness, gas, teething, illness, loneliness at home, and you’ve consulted with the pediatrician and they’re still crying, you’re probably exhausted.
Colic is unexplained, excessive crying in babies in their first few months of life. Thankfully, there are some colicky baby remedies that can help your baby–and you–feel better.
How to soothe a colicky baby
Change your baby’s position
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, better known as CHOP, suggests, “Sit them up if they have been lying down, or hold them face-out if they have been facing your chest.” They might be uncomfortable, gassy, or bored in one position, so changing things up might help you find a way they prefer being held. Laying them sideways on you with their head resting in your hand facing out is a position that works for colic for many.
Go for a ride in the car
Many parents swear by nap drives. The motion of the car, the vibrating hum of the motor, and the sound of air rushing by act like a swing and a white noise machine in one. Some babies may hate the car, but they also often change their minds between hate and love in the first months, so if you haven’t tried this in a few weeks, it might be worth another try.
Let them listen to a low noise
It could be you humming or shushing, the sound of the washing machine, a dishwasher, a white noise machine, a fan, a vacuum, radio static, or a recording of a heartbeat, but rhythmic, constant, low-level noises remind baby of being in utero with the constant swish of blood and beat of your heart, and it can calm them. “Inside the uterus, noises are louder than a vacuum cleaner,” says Dr. Harvey Karp, author of “The Happiest Baby on the Block,” so don’t be afraid to turn up the noise louder than you might think.
Try a pacifier
A sucking motion is soothing for them even if they aren’t hungry. They also might prefer sucking on your finger instead of a plastic nipple. Don’t give them an empty bottle because they would suck in air which can cause gas pains.
Use a baby wearer
Keep baby close and feeling snug and secure with a baby wearer. Ring slings and wraps are good options for infants. They will like the closeness and feeling of a tight hold and your hands will be free to do just about whatever you want around the house or to go for a walk around the block or the yard.
In your arms or in a swing, gentle rocking reminds them of the sway in utero when you walked. Being held and cuddling them in your arms as you sway or walk may be just the thing they need. If you get tired, you could sit in a rocking chair or sway while sitting on the couch. This may seem obvious, but your touch, smell, and warmth are often what they’re craving even when you’re tired of holding them most hours of the day. This stage will pass. Put on a podcast or something else for you to pass the time.
Try infant massage
This is great skin-to-skin bonding time and has many proven benefits. Don’t run the top of their head where their skull hasn’t formed, but otherwise, you can feel safe massaging just about any area of your baby like their feet, arms, legs, belly, and hands. Rubbing their tummy in a clockwise circular motion may help digestion. Read our guide to baby massage.
If none of this is the answer to how to soothe a colicky baby for you, give the pediatrician a call. Most of all, take care of yourself, too. The constant crying mixed with sleep deprivation and emotions running high is really tough, and it’s okay to put the baby down for five minutes, even if they are crying, to take a break. You’re doing your best, and if their needs are met and they are still crying, they will be okay if you need to take a shower while they lie in the crib. Colic usually resolves after the first three months of infancy, so there is an end in sight.
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