Understanding Colic: Treatment

Colic should go away by the time your baby is 4 months old. Until then, try these tips. They may give both of you some relief.

Feeding Tips

Is it the breastmilk or formula? Some parents worry that what they feed their baby or what they eat if they are breastfeeding can upset him. Generally it’s not a cause of colic, but it can cause irritation. If you think it might be the cause of your baby's crying, talk to his pediatrician.

Help him swallow less air. Try a special bottle designed to reduce gas or a nipple with a smaller hole. Sit him up while he eats so he swallows less air. Remember to burp him during and after feedings.

Soothe Your Baby With Sound and Motion

Walk or rock. Motion helps calm babies. Walk around with your baby in a baby carrier (the kind you wear over your chest). The combined warmth and rhythm may lull her to sleep.

Hold and rock him or put him in a swing or stroller. The gentle movement may stop his tears.

If all else fails, secure him in his car seat and go for a ride. Just make sure you’re not so tired it’s unsafe to drive.

Use sound to calm your baby. Many babies respond well to the gentle hum of a machine, such as a:

  • Clothes dryer (But don’t be tempted to put your baby on top of a dryer -- not even in a carrier or car seat -- because he could fall.
  • Fan
  • Vacuum
  • White-noise machine

You could also try classical music or a "heartbeat soundtrack" next to the crib.

 

Calm Your Baby’s Senses

Bright lights and sounds can overwhelm a colicky baby. Your baby may calm down if you:

  • Lay him on his back in a dark, quiet room.
  • Swaddle him snugly in a blanket.
  • Lay him across your lap and gently rub his back.
  • Try infant massage.
  • Put a warm water bottle on your baby's belly.
  • Have him suck on a pacifier.
  • Soak him in a warm bath.

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What About Other Colic Remedies?

You may have heard that some home remedies can relieve colic. Most aren’t proven and they could hurt your baby. Always talk with your child’s pediatrician before trying something new. These are things you may have heard about.

  • Rice cereal in a bottle. This is a definite no-no. It's a big choking hazard, and it is not proven to work.
  • Herbal remedies such as chamomile, or gripe water. It’s best not to use these. The FDA doesn’t regulate over-the-counter remedies. You can’t be sure what they are made of, and ingredients aren’t always labeled. Some can have things in them that are very bad for your baby, like alcohol or opiates. Babies can also have allergic reactions to them. They’re also not proven to work.   
  • Simethicone gas drops. These can be OK to try. But will they work? They may or may not help.

Take a Break

Colic isn't just hard on your baby. It can wear you out, too. When the pressure of trying to calm your crying baby gets to be too much, leave him with a sitter, family member, or trusted friend and get out of the house.

Even if you just go for a walk or grab lunch, take a break to relieve some stress. When no one is around to help, it's OK to leave your baby in the crib or playpen and go into another room briefly until you regroup.

No matter how frustrated you get, never hit or shake your baby. If you ever feel like you might hurt him, call your doctor right away and ask for help.

Also call your doctor if your baby:

  • Has diarrhea, especially if you notice blood in it
  • Doesn’t eat or gain weight
  • Has a fever of 100.4 F or more
  • Vomits
  • Might be sick or injured
  • Seems less alert or more sleepy than usual

 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on May 27, 2015

Sources

SOURCES:

Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital: "What is colic?"

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Colic."

International Breastfeeding Centre.

Mayo Clinic.org: “Breast-feeding Nutrition: Tips for moms,” “Colic: Lifestyle and Home Remedies.”

Nemours Foundation: "Your Colicky Baby."

UpToDate: "Patient Information: Colic (excessive crying) in infants (Beyond the Basics)."

 

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