Motherhood Musing: 10 ways to soothe a colicky baby

Monday, November 6, 2017

Ellis is now a healthy, happy, growing baby boy (growing every minute is seems! How is it he's so big?!), but the first few months of his life, it didn't feel that way. Our boy was the kind books labelled "High Maintenance" or "Sensitive"  and he was oh, so collicky. Good news: If this is you and your baby- they do, in fact, grow out of it. It may not seem like it and an answer that is a few days, weeks or months away doesn't help that much but- know there is an end. In the meantime, here's a list of what worked for us and colic. Good luck!

1) Hot Shower- No, the baby isn't taking a shower. Put the baby in the bathroom with a hot shower running. The sound is reassuringly similar to the sounds inside the body. Plus, the steam can be both a distraction and/or help ease breathing.

2) Car Ride- This is a cliche for a reason and we have had our share of midnight drives here (and 10 am drives and 5 pm drives and-). The movement of the car can soothe a baby to sleep. Ours also likes looking out the window.

3) Favorite Music- We may have inadvertently trained Ellis to fall asleep to his favorite song ("In my Life") for a while there. But it was soothing to him and helped him transition to sleep.

4) Swaddle- Our son hates being swaddled-  initially. He dislikes having his arms bound. If your kid is like this, you can try a one armed swaddle or leave both arms out, but I like the arms tucked into the swaddle so that he can't startle himself awake. The swaddle feels snug and warm- like it was inside mom.

5) Rocking- It is a comforting motion. It is also a plus for parents as rockers provide good back support.

6) White Noise- A lot of baby toys have nature sounds, but good ol' White Noise is what works best for us. It sounds a little like static, though the experts suggest having a deeper, lower tone under the static sound too.  747 by White Noise is best track we've found (and yes, it is the sounds of a 747 jet). The white noise once again sounds similar to the sounds of being in the uterus, but also help mask noises around the house that could wake the baby.

7) Shushing- This is one of the "5 S's" the book Happiest Baby on the Block suggests to calm newborns. You are making a shushing sound. Ironically, sometimes one must be quite loud and/or near the baby's ear. This only works if the baby can hear it, which can be hard if the baby is screaming. The idea is the sound is once again similar to being in the womb.

8) Scarves- Use a ladies silky scarf (or try a tissue) and brush it downward over the baby's face several times in a row. The gentle, tickling sensation usually distracts babies.

9) Unexpected Positions- Our baby might stop crying if suddenly lifted into the air, or moved up or down. Holding them while swaying side to side quickly can also work. It shifts their focus away from crying to something else.

10) Swing- My parents bought us a swing and it was been such a game changer! The secret is that it has a wide range of motion. Many baby products rock, but we found that isn't really enough motion. A swing provides more motion, and allows the baby to be high enough to see more than he would on the floor. Both are entertaining and soothing.


  1. My son Jona was just like that--others would have called him colicky or high maintenance, we just called him an angry baby, ha! White noise really helped with him, and so did the baby swing. I wish I would have known about that scarf tip though!

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