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8 Tips to Soothe a Colicky Baby

What should you do if your baby has colic? Here are 8 tips to soothe your colicky baby to stop the crying, including avoiding eye contact and mastering the art of the swaddle.

By
Bruce and Jeanne Lubin,
October 12, 2017

Tips to Calm a Colicky Baby

Baby colic is generally characterized by bouts of uncontrollable crying for longer than three hours a day, three days a week, and lasting for three weeks or longer. If you're a parent trying to both keep your wits about you while making your baby as comfortable as possible, consider these tips. 

How to Calm a Colicky Baby

  1. Try the Dryer
  2. Sweep Away the Cries
  3. Avoid Eye Contact
  4. Feeding Position
  5. Assume the Position
  6. Swaddling
  7. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
  8. Go Dairy-Free for a Week

Let's explore each tip a little further.

1. Try the Dryer

Rest the side of your child’s infant seat against a running dryer. This time-tested remedy creates a gentle vibration that calms a baby’s cries. (Just be sure not to leave the baby unattended, and don’t place the seat on top of the dryer, so there’s no chance of a fall.) It really works!

2. Sweep Away the Cries

Another classic suggestion for colicky babies is the vacuum cleaner. For some unknown reason, a baby often quiets down when Mom or Dad starts sweeping the house. Perhaps it’s the steady white noise—or maybe it’s just that Baby loves a clean carpet! When the chores are done, you can even try recording the sound of the vacuum and playing it to your little one to soothe the cries.

3. Avoid Eye Contact

Don’t look a colicky baby in the eye. You may be tempted to soothe your darling by looking deep into those baby blues and trying to figure out what’s bothering him, but eye contact can stimulate him, making the crying even worse, so look away, look away!

4. Feeding Position

Feed your baby in an upright position. If she’s lying horizontal, she may be swallowing too much air during feeding, causing pain and gas. And after she finishes, be sure to give her a good burping to expel any lingering air.

5. Assume the Position

Carry your baby in a position that pediatricians call the “colic carry.” Turn your palm up, and lay your baby on top of your extended forearm with her head toward your elbow. Hold her in place with your other hand and walk around like this until she calms down.  

6. Swaddling

Swaddling, or wrapping your baby snugly in a blanket, may help reduce crying. You probably learned this technique in the hospital after giving birth; it gives a baby a sense of warmth and security, similar to what he felt in the womb. The next time he won’t stop crying, swaddling could be just the trick you need to get him to settle himself.

7. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Make him get a good look at himself. Sometimes you can quiet down a colicky child by showing him his reflection in the mirror. He’ll be fascinated by what he sees and start to soothe himself.

8. Go Dairy-Free for a Week

If you’re a breastfeeding mom and have a colicky baby, it’s possible that dairy products could be irritating her tender tummy. Take a weeklong pass on milk, cheese, and other dairy products and see if it makes a difference. If not, you can resume your normal diet, but this sacrifice may be worth a shot for some peace and quiet around the house. Other possible dietary explanations include caffeine and spicy food, among a handful of other culprits.

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Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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