How to Calm a Fussy or Colicky Baby

Week 5

Every baby cries. It's how they let you know they're hungry, sleepy, or craving attention. If your 5-week-old coos and sighs instead of sobbing, consider yourself one of the rare and very lucky parents.

On the other hand, your baby may never seem to stop crying. If that's the case, friends and family may mention the word "colic." Colic may mean your baby's nervous system hasn't matured or that your baby is sensitive to a food you're eating while nursing. But the strict definition of colic is crying for no reason. 

How do you know if your baby has colic? It usually starts around age 3 weeks. Babies with colic:

  • Cry for as much as three hours a day, as many as three days a week, often in the early evening or early morning
  • Are hard to calm
  • May pull up their legs and pass gas

Take heart, exhausted parents. Most babies grow out of colic by age 3 months. Until then, here are a few ways to soothe a very fussy baby:

  • Rock your baby gently.
  • Take him for a stroller or car ride.
  • Ask your pediatrician if it would help to give him the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri to calm his tummy. You might also try temporarily changing your diet if you are breastfeeding or if not, experiment with different formulas.
  • Place a white noise machine in his room or allow him to listen to the sounds of the dryer or shower.

If nothing works, see a pediatrician. There may be a medical reason for crying, such as reflux or GERD. heartburn, or a milk protein allergy or intolerance.

Your Baby's Development This Week

Now that your baby is past the newborn stage, you may wonder what the world looks and sounds like to him? Here's a glimpse from his point of view.

  • Baby's eyes are starting to work together. Pass a toy or object in front of him, and he'll follow it. He may still cross his eyes, but that's OK.
  • Your baby will stare at you intently. He knows you're talking to him, and he's trying to figure out what you're saying from your expressions and the sounds you're making. He can actually discern you from any other caregiver.
  • Five-week-olds can tell certain sounds apart -- especially the sound of your voice. When your baby hears you speak, he may smile.
  • Your baby will attempt conversation by uttering one-syllable sounds like "eh" and "uh" and waiting for you to respond.

Week 5 Tips

  • To calm a crying baby, handle his most pressing need first. If he's got a wet diaper, change him. If he's hungry, feed him.
  • When your baby won't stop screaming, it's OK to put him in his crib and let him cry for a moment. Calm yourself down before you try to calm him.
  • Have "conversations" with your baby. Even though he can't talk back yet, he's learning how to listen and respond with coos, babbles, and smiles.
  • Play songs or sing to your little one. Music is great at calming crying babies.
  • Babies love to look at themselves. Hang a little mirror in his crib -- soon, he'll gaze at his own reflection.
  • Even though your baby can't yet crawl or walk, he can wriggle. Keep a hand on him whenever you change or dress him.
  • Keep your baby in the shade, if possible. Their skin is thinner and more sensitive. Cover them up with clothes and a hat, limit their time in the sun (especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun is strongest), don’t let them get overheated, and get them out of the sun right away if they show any signs of sunburn or dehydration, including fussiness, redness, and excessive crying
  • If being out in the sun is unavoidable, put a light blanket over the car seat or stroller to cover your baby.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on November 17, 2017



American Academy of Pediatrics: "Colic."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Responding to Your Baby's Cries."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Hearing and Making Sounds."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Your Baby's Vision: 1 Month."

AboutKidsHealth: "Skin Care, Nail Care, and Dental Care."

AboutKidsHealth: "Development of Hearing."

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