Comfort Measures for a Baby With Colic
If your baby has colic, simple comforting measures may help shorten the duration or decrease the intensity of a crying episode.
- Make sure your baby isn't hungry. Very young babies usually do not eat much at one sitting and may become hungry 1 to 2 hours after a feeding.
- Address your baby's sucking needs. Sucking can help babies relieve stress without crying. Some babies need to suck as much as 2 hours a day. If feedings are not enough to satisfy sucking, offer your baby a pacifier or clean finger instead.
- Try rocking your baby or playing music. Gently rock your baby or use a mechanical swing. You may also try singing quietly, playing music at a low volume, or turning on something with a rhythmic sound, such as a fan that hums, a vacuum cleaner, a clothes dryer, or tape recordings of womb sounds. A white-noise sleep machine for babies may help. Put the machine far from the crib and use the lowest volume to keep the baby's hearing safe from harm. And use the machine only for short periods of time. Some babies respond well to these measures, especially when combined with loving attention, such as talking and touching.
- Cuddle your baby. Hold your baby close to you in your arms, or use a front pack. You may also try swaddling, which is wrapping your baby in a blanket. When you swaddle your baby, keep the blanket loose around the hips and legs. If the legs are wrapped tightly or straight, hip problems may develop. Monitor your baby closely to make sure he or she doesn't get too warm.
- Change his or her position. Hold your baby so that you put gentle pressure on the belly. Try placing your baby over your knee with his or her belly over your lower arm and his or her head at your elbow.
- Soothe your baby with motion. Walk while holding your baby or try carrying him or her in a front pack or sling while you go about your activities. Babies are often comforted by the combination of close contact and motion. Try a walk outside in a front pack or stroller to help change your baby's mood. Some parents find their baby is soothed by riding in the car.
- Bathe your baby. If your baby likes the water, try giving him or her a warm bath.
Try one comfort measure at a time for about 1 or 2 minutes each until you notice the crying start to decrease. If your baby continues to cry for 20 to 30 minutes, change locations and try again. Sometimes nothing works. In these cases, consider placing your baby in his or her crib for a brief period (5 minutes at a time) while you stay close by. Then repeat your attempts to comfort.
If you get exhausted by these efforts, ask for someone else to take over for you. Call 911 right away if you are afraid that you are about to harm your baby and you can't find someone to help you.
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