Dealing with colic is no fun for anybody! Listening to constant crying can be very frustrating and distressing and will often leave you feeling unable to calm down and relax, you might also find yourself feeling lost and wondering what you can do to help your baby. Colic is very common in young babies and generally starts around 4 weeks of age, the most common signs include intense and prolonged crying, baby becoming red and flushed in the face and clenching their fists or arching their back when crying. It’s generally characterized by the “rule of 3” which is crying for more than 3 hours per day, for more than 3 days per week, and for longer than 3 three weeks.

During my work as midwife and health visitor, I have gathered the following top tips for helping parents to calm a baby with colic.

Reasons for baby to cry

If your little one is crying excessively, you’ll likely want to know why. It could be that your baby is hungry, needs a nappy change or just wants a cuddle rather than it being colic. Babies should be fed regularly, roughly around every 3-4 hours and a nappy change should take place around the same time as a feed. I always encourage parents to create a calm environment for their baby to focus on feeding and being with their baby. If your baby is fully fed, changed and cuddles and the crying stops, then the problem likely isn’t colic.

How to reduce colic

  • Alleviate trapped wind
  • Sooth with movement and play
  • Avoid over-stimulation
  • Choose Anti-colic bottles
  • Use Baby massage

Are the best solutions to calm a colicy baby. I have elaborated below.

Alleviate trapped wind

Nobody knows exactly what causes colic, however it is thought to be caused by baby taking in air during a feed. This can be an issue regardless of whether you breast of bottle feed. Wind is very common in newborn babies and it can cause some discomfort, this is because a baby’s digestive system isn’t fully mature until around 3 months of age. Focusing on alleviating trapped wind might be all that your baby needs to calm down. You can try a number of different techniques including placing your baby over your shoulder and rubbing or patting their back. You can also try laying your baby face down on your lap and patting the back this way. If they’re finding it particularly difficult to shift that wind then trying laying them on their back and cycling their legs around to help get that wind moving.

Movement & Play

Babies love movement, so carrying little one in a sling, popping them in a pram for a long walk or going for a car ride can be soothing. Create an environment for calming play by dimming the lights and removing any kind of stimulation. Get down on the floor on a playmat and let your baby interact with you, they love nothing more that simply laying down and watching you whilst you chat to them, you could also sing and turn on a mobile or white noise machine.

Avoid Over-Stimulation

Babies can very easily become over-stimulated. Remember your little one is new in this world so he’ll be soaking up all these new experiences, sounds and people. Whilst this is great because they’re learning so much, it can also lead to an overload of your baby’s senses. Instead, create a calm, relaxed environment with dimmed lights and relaxing music, especially if you think your baby truly does have colic.

Choose Anti-Colic Bottles

There are of course lots of bottles on the market, but it’s always worth while starting out with an anti-colic bottle to reduce the risk of colic actually occurring in the first place. You really don’t want to have to be switching bottles when all you want to do is calm your baby.

Use Baby Massage

Colic can cause a lot of abdominal discomfort in your baby. To help reduce some of this discomfort use baby massage techniques, particularly the abdominal massage move which involves gently massaging your baby’s tummy to help relieve the pressure.

Try Anti-Colic Treatments

There are lots of over-the-counter medicines for helping with your baby’s colic. These medicines would normally be given prior to feeding your baby and they help by reducing the amount of trapped wind during a feed. Most of them are however for babies over the age of 3 months, so speak to your Health Visitor or GP before using.

Seek Help

Colic does improve over time, generally around 16 weeks of age. However, if you are worried about anything or it doesn’t seem to be getting better then speak to your GP or Health Visitor.

You may also want to read this ultimate guide for taking care of a newborn or tips for giving baby bottle.