Ways to stay sane with a colicky newborn

Your Body & Wellbeing   |   Age: 4 weeks 3 days

Ways to stay sane with a colicky newborn

You’ve read about colic symptoms and treatments. You’ve talked with the doctor. It’s official: that crying isn’t going anywhere. Here are some tips for dealing with it.

Dealing with colic can be a major trial for parents. It's easy to feel powerless and stressed when your newborn won't stop crying, no matter what.

Are you a bad parent? No. Does your newborn hate you? No. Are you not trying hard enough? Come on; stop it.

your baby isn’t mad at you. In fact, she doesn’t know what blame, anger, or annoyance are yet. Sometimes, she just needs to cry. So what can you do for yourself during this trying time?

Plan ahead

Most colicky babies operate on their own schedule: they’ve got good and bad times of the day. If your baby is quiet in the morning, then plan to handle your out-of-the-house errands then. Also, try to have some fun with your baby in those quiet hours. You don’t want your whole day to be filled with just chores and crying.

Try everything

There are as many tips for treating colic as there are babies with colic. Nothing is a miracle cure, but that’s not a bad thing. This is a great opportunity to learn about your baby. What does she like? What makes the crying worse? Even when you find something that works, keep trying new things. Your newborn isn’t a puzzle that you need to find the answer to - she is a person, and this is a great chance to get to know her. Since every newborn seems to respond to colic differently, it can be hard to predict what will help, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Motion: Whether the way your baby really wants to move involves long car rides or just the motion of a rocking chair, sometimes just keeping your baby in a state of constant motion for long enough can help her reach a state of calm. Baby swings can be good for this, but so can bouncing on yoga balls, pushing a stroller, or competitive downhill skiing - the last one might be a bit ambitious, but then, maybe your baby's a daredevil.
  • Closeness: Sometimes, what your baby needs is just to be closer to you, and while strapping this tiny, screaming person to your chest with a sling so she is pressed up against you wherever you go might not sound like the most appealing option, there's a chance it could actually be a way to make the screaming stop. On the other hand, if your baby is missing the closeness of the womb, she might be happy just to be tightly, but properly, swaddled, until she feels secure.
  • Sound: One theory about babies with colic is that they could just be more sensitive to the world around them than other babies, which gives them more violent reactions to it. One of the parts of the world that could be disturbing your baby could be sound, but unfortunately, even if that's it, it doesn't narrow down what the problem could be. your baby could be craving quiet, but then, she could also be seeking sound, either the soothing sound of shushing or white noise, which can come from anything from an actual white noise machine to an improvised one like a vacuum or hairdryer.
  • Temperature: If your baby is just a little more sensitive right now, she could easily be feeling a little hotter or cooler than you realize, so experimenting a little with layering could get you to an unexpected solution.
  • Food: Whether your baby is breastfed or formula-fed, there's a chance that she could be responding to a food sensitivity, most commonly milk protein or some kind of medication through breast milk. If your baby's flare-ups of colic seem like they might correspond with eating, it might be worth looking into switching her onto another type of formula or altering your diet to see if it helps. Some substances, especially, dairy products, can take a while to leave your breast milk, so if you try changing your diet to try to help with your baby's colic, give it a week before you decide whether or not it worked.
  • Reflux: Another underlying issue that could be adding to your baby's colic is reflux, which can cause pain for your baby while feeding, or can cause gas or heartburn. If reflux is part of the problem, the doctor may be able to prescribe medication, recommend gripe water as an herbal supplement, or recommend a different position for your baby to sleep in.

Get out

Having a crying newborn can make your house feel like a prison. If your baby is comfortable in her car seat, try taking a drive. The motion and sound of the car can sometimes soothe a child. Plus, you can roll down the windows and crank some tunes. Sing along! Feel the sun! Share those cries with the whole neighborhood! The point is, your crying newborn isn’t an anchor holding you down in one place - all babies cry, and sometimes they cry a lot.

Take a break

Hand your baby to someone else. Seriously. Take a bath, read a book, do whatever you need to unwind for a little while. If you can, find a relative, your partner, a friend, a babysitter or nanny, or whomever else you trust with your little one while you regain your sanity. Colic can bring out the worst in both babies and parents, and since between you and your baby, you're the one who's able to walk away, it's up to you to know when you need to take a step back, for your good and for your baby's.


By 4 months, 80 to 90% of infants lose their colic symptoms. You can make it - but remember, this stage of your baby’s life is temporary. Don’t miss out on those tender moments holding your young one because she was fussing. Grab some earplugs, cuddle that cutie, and remember that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.


  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Colic Symptoms.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, May 14 2014. Web.
  • “Colic Relief Tips for Parents.” Healthy Children. American Academy of Pediatrics, November 21 2015. Web.

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