WebMD spoke with mother of two and pediatrician Tanya R. Altmann, MD, FAAP. We talked about colic: what it is, how long it lasts, and what you can do to soothe an upset infant.
What is colic?
Colic is when a baby, for no apparent reason, is really fussy and cries for hours at a time.
Does colic occur in newborns? How long does it last?
Colic typically starts when a baby is about 3 weeks old, and usually ends at about 3 months. Most babies outgrow it.
What remedies work?
Every baby is different, but there are several things parents can try:
- For the younger infant, a good, tight swaddle often helps. Being swaddled makes them feel secure.
- Babies also tend to like loud, repetitive sounds like radio static or the sound of washing machines. If you go shhhh-shhhh in your baby’s ear that can work as well.
- Try singing -- some babies respond well to their parents’ voices.
- Turn the baby on their side when you’re holding them, and give them something to suck on, like a pacifier or your finger.
- Take the baby out in a stroller. One of my sons really loved being out in his stroller, and he was a very colicky, fussy baby.
You may find that one of these solutions works for a few weeks, and then you may have to try something else. I recommend a DVD based off the book The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Harvey Karp, MD. I especially like the DVD because parents can actually see the techniques being used. I also like the book Colic Solved, by Bryan Vartabedian, MD.
Do you have more tips for soothing a fussy baby, colic or no colic?
Usually the techniques we just talked about will help. It’s always good for parents to learn these techniques, because they’ll also help a non-fussy baby sleep longer and through the night.