All newborn babies cry and experience fussiness; they’re getting used to their new world. It’s normal. However, if you think your little one might have colic, ask yourself the “3” questions:
- Does your baby cry for more than 3 hours per day?
- Does he cry like that for more than 3 days per week?
- Has this been going on for at least 3 weeks?
Yes to all of the above questions might mean your baby has colic. The good news is that fussiness eventually goes away on its own. The challenge is getting through it. Try these tips to help soothe your fussy baby.
Hold off your baby’s crying. Babies like to be held, so pick them up. Yes, it sounds simple—and it is. The idea that you can “spoil” a baby by holding him too much is a myth. If your little one is crying or fussy, he might just need to be close to you. Pick him up, rub his back, rock back and forth, whisper in his ear, and show him your love and attention.
Easing through feeding. Diet changes may bring some improvement in fussy babies.
- If you’re breast-feeding, you may try some dietary changes to see if they help your baby:
- Reduce your caffeine intake.
- Reduce dairy, soy, and eggs.
- Try eating a wheat-free diet.
- If you’re bottle-feeding, try switching your baby’s formula.
Help your baby’s digestion. Some crying, and fussy babies might have gas that upsets their tummies. It’s difficult to tell whether gas might be causing the crying, or whether all that crying makes a baby gulp in lots of air, resulting in gas. But trying to ease your baby’s gas could help. To do that, gently bring one of your baby’s knees toward his tummy, then bring that leg back and try with the other one. Or you can gently burp your baby.
Try a variety of calming techniques. See what works best for your baby:
- Swaddle your baby, especially if he’s a newborn. The feeling resembles that tight embrace of being in the womb.
- Calm him with a white noise machine or the sound of a vacuum cleaner.
- Walk around with him in your arms, while patting or rubbing his back.
- Soothe with the motion of a vibrating chair or infant swing.
- Lay your baby across your lap with his belly facedown, and then rub his back. If it’s gas, this could help.
- Take him for a ride in his stroller or in the car, using his car seat.
Know when to call the pediatrician. Most fussy, crying, colicky babies have healthy sucking reflexes and a good appetite. However, if this is not the case with your baby—you notice that he’s not feeding well or that he’s having problems either sucking or swallowing—call your doctor. There might be an underlying problem at play. Other signs you should call the pediatrician:
- Your baby fusses when you cuddle and hold him or seems next to impossible to calm down.
- He has a fever of 100.4 F or higher.
- Your baby has bloody stools or diarrhea.
- There’s a bluish cast to your baby’s skin or lips.
- He’s not sleeping.
These issues may signal more than simple crying or colic and call for a doctor’s attention. If you are planning a trip to the doctor, read "Crying and Colicky Behavior: Questions to Ask Your Pediatrician" for some helpful advice.