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Best Ways to Soothe a Colicky Baby

Updated on August 4, 2011

What is Colic?

        Colic is one of the many nightmares of new mothers. The Morris Wessel definition of colic is when an otherwise healthy baby shows periods of unexplained fussiness for more than three hours a day for more than three days a week. This definition tends to be overly narrow, and many colic cases last for less than three hours. In most cases, colic begins in the first month of life and dissipates around three to four months of age, but it has been known to last for twelve in rare cases. Colic tends to effect around forty percent of infants, and is lower in breastfed babies vs. formula fed babies. It also seems to get worse in the evenings or after feeding, especially in babies that are difficult to burp. The main suspected causes are stomach gas, intestinal gas, neurologic overload and sometimes muscular (possibly due to spasms or birth trauma).

How to Soothe Your Baby.

          First things first, check with your baby's doctor to ensure that there is not an underlying medical reason for your babies discomfort (in most cases there isn't, but it's better to be safe than sorry). Once you've checked with the doctor and your baby is healthy, you can try several soothing methods.

  • Swaddling: Wrap your baby tightly in a blanket or swaddling cloth almost like a tiny burrito, this reminds them of the confinement and safety of the womb.
  • Tummy time: While the only way that you should let your baby sleep is on his or her back, it does sometimes help to lay them on their tummies when they have abdominal discomfort. This helps relieve some of the pressure. Always make sure that they are supervised while laying on their bellies, one of the easiest ways to do this is for you to lay back and rest them on your chest and belly. This allows you to monitor their breathing and also provides them with the comfort of being close to you (just make sure that you don't fall asleep like this).
  • Shushing: Making the "shhh" sound close to their ear reminds them of the sounds in the womb. It works best in conjunction with other soothing techniques.
  • Vacuum Cleaner: If the shushing doesn't work sometimes running a vacuum cleaner (not next to their ear) does. The noise of the vacuum closely emulates the sound of rushing blood in the womb (the womb is surprisingly a very noisey place).
  • Sucking:  The suckling motion is very soothing for a baby, offer him/her your breast, a passy or your finger.
  • Mylicon Drops or Gripe Water: Mylicon Drops help reduce gas, but read the label and check with your doctor. Gripe water also works wonders, it's an all natural combination or ginger and fennel extract and soothes baby's tummy naturally. You can also add it to their bottle up to 6 times a day to prevent tummy upset. Make sure that you read the label for age appropriate dosing.
  • Car Ride: When everything else fails, a car ride seems to work miracles. The motion and sound seems to soothe them instantly, and as soon as the car is in motion they quiet right down. You just have to make sure that you drive for long enough for them to be fully asleep, otherwise the will start right back up when you get home.


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