Colic & Crying: Ways to Soothe Your Newborn

5 min read

Parents experience extraordinary joy when they hear their newborn’s first cry. However, if your baby is crying and fussing all the time, with no end in sight, it can become overwhelming. You may feel helpless as you struggle to soothe your child for days on end. 

There are various reasons your newborn may be fussing, right from needing a simple diaper change and hunger to tiredness, gas and stomach discomfort. Colic could be one of the reasons if your newborn cries frequently. Colic is a condition that is characterized by cries that occur in “the great 3”: last for more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week, and for more than 3 weeks.

If you believe your newborn may be suffering from colic speak to your pediatrician as soon as possible. If your pediatrician has already confirmed that your child is suffering from colic here are a few soothing things to explore as you search for ways to help your baby. In many cases simply replicating the comfort of the womb for your newborn can play a vital role in easing their discomfort. Our list of ideas include everything thing from trying various pacifier styles to probiotics for babies.

Music or sounds

Play your newborn’s favorite lullaby or the musical toy that seems to catch their attention. Singing a song to your newborn or reading a book gives your child the opportunity to be soothed by hearing the familiar and safe sound of your voice. Also consider gentle and steady humming.

Rhythmic movement

Newborns are accustomed to rhythmic movement because they have experienced it for 9 months continuously in the womb. Use baby swings or a rocking chair to generate the swinging motions that often soothe newborns. Rocking your baby without the help of a chair is also another option. Keep your movements smooth, consistent and similar in repetition.

Swaddle

In the womb, your newborn has little space to move around, however, the environment is warm, perfectly snug, safe and comfortable for your child. When you wrap or swaddle your newborn, it gives your child the feeling of being in the womb and creates a sense of security. Use thin blankets to wrap your newborn and then cuddle them. Another alternative is to use a baby sling or carrier. Carriers give your newborn the sense of being held snugly as they move with you throughout your daily routine.  

Pacifiers

Using pacifiers emulates the act of breastfeeding which is very calming to your newborn. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), reports that there is no serious developmental consequences for your newborn if you utilize pacifiers. In general, newborns give up sucking on a pacifier on their own within seven months of age. Remember that every pacifier is designed differently and therefore you may need to explore more than one type and style to find one that soothes your newborn.

Massage

Some newborns find stroking and massaging very calming. Use gentle pressure to massage your newborns knees, back, and legs. Apart from soothing your newborn, massages also improve their sleep quality, promote relaxation, and relieves discomfort from chest congestion, colic, and teething. When you perform the massage yourself, it serves as a good bonding exercise between you and your bundle of joy.

Environment and clothing

Sometimes the reason that your newborn is fussing could be something as simple as uncomfortable clothing or environment. Check the temperature in the room. Is it too hot or too cold? Remember that your newborn’s clothes should not be relaxed and non-confining. Keep in mind that your newborn is unable to turn or move without your help. Consider re-adjusting your newborn frequently, until you find a position that is soothing.  Holding your child against your chest and changing their posture regularly may make your newborn find comfort.

Gas

If your newborn is suffering from gas, there are various ways of helping them find comfort. Begin by relieving some of the gas captured in your child’s stomach by placing your newborn on your knees and rubbing their back. Helping your child explore various ranges of motion can also give your child relief such as moving their leg to resemble riding a bicycle when lying on their back. If you think your child is regularly gassy speak to your child’s pediatrician about treatment options to help relieve symptoms.

Stomach problems

Probiotics are live bacteria that maintain the balance between good and bad bacteria in your child’s gut. Probiotics promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in your child’s gut to ensure that your child’s digestive system is functioning properly as well as boosts their immune system. Probiotics for babies help relieve the severity of many common stomach problems so that your child can find relief.

Walk

One of the easiest solutions for comforting your newborn when they are constantly fussing is to provide them with a change of scenery. Take them outside for a walk in the park, and the happenings around may just distract and calm them.

Comforting a newborn that with colic is not always easy and straightforward. It can be overwhelming as you face a child that struggles to find relief. Exploring some of the options mentioned in our list is a strong starting point and should be discussed with your child’s pediatrician as needed.


References

Anna S. Pease, Peter J. Fleming, Fern R. Hauck, Rachel Y. Moon, Rosemary S.C.Horne, Monique P. L’Hoir, Anne-Louise Ponsonby, Peter S. Blair Swaddling and the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: A Meta-analysis, Pediatrics Jun 2016, 137 (6) e20153275; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2015-3275

Bales, D. W., Falen, K., Butler, T., Marshall, L. E., Searle, L., & Semple, P. (2012). Better Brains for Babies Trainer's Guide, (2nd ed.).

Crenshaw, J. T. (2014). Healthy Birth Practice #6: Keep Mother and Baby Together— It’s Best for Mother, Baby, and Breastfeeding. The Journal of Perinatal Education, 23(4), 211–217. http://doi.org/10.1891/1058-1243.23.4.211

Field, T., Diego, M., & Hernandez-Reif, M. (2010). Preterm Infant Massage Therapy Research: A Review. Infant Behavior & Development, 33(2), 115–124. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.infbeh.2009.12.004

Sumi Sexton, MD, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, District of Columbia

Ruby, Natale, PhD, PsyD, Mailman Center for Child Development, Miami, Florida Am Fam Physician. 2009 Apr 15;79(8):681-685.

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