Lifestyle and home remedies

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Your baby's doctor may not be able to fix colic or make it go away sooner, but there are many ways you can try to soothe your baby.

Tips for feeding your baby

If you think your baby may be hungry, try a feeding to ease fussiness. These other feeding strategies may help, too:

  • Hold your baby as upright as possible during feedings. Pause often during feedings to burp your baby. Sometimes smaller, more-frequent feedings are helpful. If you're breast-feeding, it may help to allow your baby to feed at one breast until it's nearly empty before switching sides. This provides your baby with rich, fatty hindmilk, potentially more satisfying than the lighter, thirst-quenching foremilk present at the start of a feeding.
  • Consider changing your diet, if breast-feeding. A breast-feeding mother's diet likely doesn't play a role in baby's colicky symptoms. However, in families with a history of allergies, removing potential allergens from your diet might uncover an unknown food allergy in your baby. If you breast-feed, your baby's doctor may suggest that you try eliminating foods most likely to cause allergy — such as dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy and fish — for two weeks to see if your baby's symptoms improve. However, first talk with your baby's doctor before changing your diet.
  • Switch baby's formula. As with breast-feeding, your baby's formula isn't a likely cause of his or her symptoms. But, changing to a type of formula called hydrolysate infant formula (Similac Expert Care Alimentum, Nutramigen, Pregestimil) might make a difference if your baby is allergic to cow's milk or has a milk intolerance. The whole milk proteins in these formulas are already broken down, which makes them easier to digest. If an allergy or intolerance was causing your baby's symptoms, you should see a response within two days of changing formula. If there's no improvement, you can switch back to the original formula as the hydrosolate formula is much more expensive than standard formula.
  • Change bottles. There are a variety of bottles and nipples from which to choose. Trying a different type of bottle or nipple could help ease some of your baby's symptoms. Bottles that have disposable, collapsible bags may lessen the amount of air your baby swallows.

Tips for soothing your baby

To soothe your crying baby, you can try to:

  • Offer a pacifier. For many babies, sucking is soothing. Even if you're breast-feeding, it's OK to offer a pacifier to calm your baby.
  • Hold your baby. Cuddling helps some babies. Others quiet when held closely and swaddled in a lightweight blanket. To give your arms a break, try a baby sling or other type of baby carrier. Don't worry about spoiling your baby by holding him or her too much.
  • Keep your baby in motion. Gently rock your baby in your arms or in an infant swing. Check with manufacturer's guidelines to be sure the swing is appropriate for your baby's age. Lay your baby tummy down on your knees and then sway your knees slowly. Take a walk with your baby, or buckle your baby in the car seat for a drive. Use a vibrating infant seat or vibrating crib.
  • Sing to your baby. A soft tune might soothe your baby. And even if lullabies don't stop your baby's crying, they can be calming for you. Recorded music may help, too.
  • Turn up background noise. Some babies cry less when they hear steady background noise. When holding or rocking your baby, try making a continuous "shssss" sound. Turn on a kitchen or bathroom exhaust fan, or play a tape or CD of environmental sounds, such as ocean waves, a waterfall, gentle rain or a human heartbeat. Sometimes the tick of a clock or metronome does the trick.
  • Use gentle heat or touch. Give your baby a warm bath. Softly rub your baby's belly.
  • Give your baby some private time. If nothing else seems to work, put your baby in his or her crib for five to 10 minutes.

When you run out of ideas

Sometimes, you won't be able to calm your baby's crying. What works well on one day may aggravate your baby on another day. If your nerves get frayed, remember:

  • Never shake your baby. If your frustration over your baby's crying threatens to boil over, hand your baby to another trusted adult. If you're alone with your baby, put him or her down somewhere safe, such as in a crib.
  • It's OK to let someone else give you a break. It's stressful to listen to your baby cry for long periods, so plan times when you can take a break. Arrange ahead of time for someone to help you with the baby so that you can have a few moments to yourself.
May 14, 2014