There are few things in life as hard as trying to sooth a colicky baby. Babies are labeled as having colic if they cry extensively – more than three hours a day in the first three months of life.

Colic (meaning abdominal discomfort) is in fact a misnomer as only 5% of babies have digestive problems. This means that changing feeding methods, cutting out ‘gas producing’ foods and giving your baby medicine for ‘reflux’ is in all likelihood not going to make the difference (unless your baby is one of the 5% who do have digestive issues, such as allergies, intolerances, reflux and other organic causes)

Colic is more likely to be simply a response of an immature brain to the very hectic world in which we live. Your newborn has come from a sensory calming world (the womb) and the best way to prevent colic is to mimic that soothing space by swaddling, deep pressure, skin to skin contact, white noise and holding. The other great secret to preventing colic is to prevent overtiredness by ensuring your baby is settled to sleep after 45 minutes of waking.

If you find your baby is one of those who suffer from extended periods of crying follow these 5 steps:

  1. If more than two hours have passed since a feed, feed your little one
  2. Swaddle your baby firmly and burp him for no more than 5 minutes
  3. Give him a dummy to suck as non-nutritive sucking is great for settling
  4. Rock to drowsy and settle him to sleep in a crib, neatly swaddled. Pat and ‘shsh’ him as he lies in his crib.
  5. If your little one is crying extensively and appears inconsolable, place him in a sling or carrier and pace with him until he settles

Top tips

  • Don’t be tempted to give up breastfeeding and don’t swap formulas too readily – only a small percentage of colic is related to digestive issues.
  • Regular sleeps and sensory soothing strategies will protect your baby’s immature brain from overstimulation, which leads to crying.
  • Don’t worry about spoiling your young baby by holding and soothing him.