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Baby's Got Colic and You Can't Cope

Baby's Got Colic and You Can't Cope

The 'Fussy' Diary continued...

If the verdict is colic, try to keep your cool -- even if the only way you can do that is by silently walking the halls with your screaming baby fastened securely in a Snugli infant carrier. Crying is one of the few ways a baby can communicate, and your responses reassure your infant that you're listening.

If a baby is crying excessively but has no discernible medical or physical problem, says Dr. Hatch, past chair of the AAP's section on gastroenterology and nutrition, studies have shown that "paying attention to it as opposed to ignoring it, you can reduce the period of crying each day by as much as 30% to 40%."

Nobody's to Blame

Although parental anxiety or inexperience won't cause colic (much to the relief of first-time parents), tension might make a baby's distress worse, says Dr. Squires. "Relax your shoulders, relax your hands, and continue to smile at the baby even though they're not smiling back ...it's hard but it'll have some positive impact."

"I think the best thing you can do is realize it's not the baby's fault or your fault," says Susan Cherry, a mother from Evanston, Ill., who survived two children with colic. "Do your best to bond with your baby in the very rare moments when your he's quiet and cuddly."

Other home remedies:

  • Try a new position: Some babies are comforted by being swaddled tightly in a blanket or held close in an infant carrier. Skin-to-skin contact or infant massage may help. Or try holding your baby face down on your forearm with his belly resting on your hand (head cradled in the crook of your arm and legs dangling). Use your other hand to hold his back in place, and gently apply pressure with the hand under his belly.
  • Change the scenery: The rhythmic sound or motion of car trips, stroller rides or swings may do the trick, as well as steady background noise from a vacuum cleaner, washing machine or radio. If car rides work but you can't get out, there's a product you can hang on the crib that simulates vehicle sound and vibrations. (One such device is SleepTight, made by Sweet Dreems, Inc., of Westerville, Ohio. A motion and sound unit costs $129.95 plus shipping; a motion unit and cassette tape goes for $89.95; call 1-800-NOCOLIC for more information.)
  • Take a break: Friends, relatives or responsible babysitters are a great source of relief, especially if parental patience is wearing thin. "I didn't want to burden anybody with a screaming baby," says Cherry, "but what you often don't realize is that another person is not nearly as bothered as you are to hear your baby cry."

If all else fails, Dr. Squires urges a sense of humor. When you don't know whether to laugh, cry or take a picture, he says, the latter clearly has its benefits. "You want to capture this behavior so that when it's time for the bachelor party, it comes back at 'em -- 'We had fun with you, but I'll tell you, this is what you looked like.'"

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