How to soothe and comfort colicky babies
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Soothing your colicky baby
If you suspect that your baby’s prolonged crying, gas and difficulty sleeping are due to colic, you should speak to your health visitor, pharmacist or GP to confirm the diagnosis. The cause of colic is unknown and tends to resolve itself, some research suggests that it could be caused by a baby's developing digestive system and may usually resolve itself after a few months. In the meantime, there are some solutions that may help to soothe colic symptoms.
How to help a colicky baby
When it comes to comforting your baby, there is no ‘right’ way – it completely depends on what they respond to. Here are a few tried-and-tested methods that mums have found helpful1,2:
- Soothe them with gentle rocking motions.
- Try holding them in different positions.
- Calm them with white noise (e.g. the hairdryer or vacuum cleaner).
- Give them a warm bath and then wrap them in a warm blanket.
- Take a walk around the block with them in the pram.
- Take them for a drive in the car.
- Give them a gentle stomach or back rub.
- Ask your health visitor about baby massage techniques.
If you suspect your baby may have colic, watch our short video for tips and advice to help manage their symptoms.
How to relieve colic
Although there is no proven colic treatment, there are a few practical solutions that can help ease symptoms3.
- Sit your baby upright during feeds to prevent them from swallowing air.
- Use a ‘fast-flow’ teat if you are bottle feeding – small holes in the teat can lead to swallowing too much air while feeding.
- If you’re formula feeding, speak to your health visitor, GP or pharmacist about suitable specialist formulas for the dietary management of colic.
- Always wind your baby after a feed.
Looking after yourself
Colic can be physically and emotionally draining for parents and your are not alone. Around 20% of infants suffer from colic4. You may find that the tiredness and added stress can put pressure on home life, so it’s important that you get support. If you’re finding it hard to cope, here are some ways to help yourself5:
- Talk to your health visitor, pharmacist or GP, not just about your colicky baby, but about how you’re feeling.
- Ask your friends and family for help so that you can have a break.
- Try to rest as much as possible when your baby is sleeping.
- Take a short walk with your baby – a change of scenery can really help both of you.
- Get out and about and meet mums in the same situation who you can talk to.
Don’t forget, if you’re finding it difficult to cope with your baby’s colic and need someone to talk to, our expert careline team are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Chat online here or give them a call on 0800 996 1000.
- Try the comforting techniques to see if any work for you, and then stick with them
- Speak to your healthcare professional to confirm the diagnosis and discuss nutritional solutions available.
- Look after yourself, try to rest and remember not to blame yourself.
- NCT. Coping with colic symptoms [Online]. 2018. Available at: https://www.nct.org.uk/baby-toddler/crying/my-baby-wont-stop-crying-coping-colic-symptoms [Accessed September 2020].
- NHS Choices. Colic [Online]. 2014. Available at: www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Colic/Pages/Introduction.aspx [Accessed: September 2020]
- NHS Start4Life. Breastfeeding Challenges: Colic [Online]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/baby/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-challenges/colic/ [Accessed: September 2020]
- Vandeplas Y et al. J. Pediatr. Gatroenterol Nutr. 2015;61(5):531-7
- NCT. How to cope and keep calm with a crying baby [Online]. Available at: https://www.nct.org.uk/baby-toddler/crying/how-cope-and-keep-calm-crying-baby [Accessed: September 2020]
Questions about feeding and nutrition?
Our midwives, nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.