We love welcoming new babies into the family. My mom has 3 children, 7 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren so far. The cousins, big and little, are very close and there’s much excitement every time a new baby is added to their ranks. Holding a baby on your shoulder, inhaling their sweet baby aroma, feeling them snuggle in closer – ahhhhh, there’s nothing like it.
Then there’s that first smile, the first giggle. Can there be any sweeter sight and sound in the world? You know what’s not so sweet? Seeing a baby cry and feeling helpless to do anything about it. It’s simply heartbreaking, especially when you know it’s being caused by pain, like that caused by colic.
That’s why I’ve put together this list of helpful tips on how to soothe a crying baby:
1) Figure out the cause of baby’s distress.
Step one, obviously. All babies cry. It’s a perfectly normal way for them to communicate how they feel. Babies may cry because they’re hungry, cold, or need a diaper change. Overtired babies sometimes have trouble getting themselves to sleep and they may cry as a result. Sometimes babies cry for extended periods of time and aren’t easily calmed. One reason for excessive crying is colic. Colicky babies are in pain and have no way of relieving that pain for themselves.
2) Swaddle baby.
Some babies find swaddling very comforting and soothing. Experts think this is because it mimics the cozy feeling they had while in the womb. I found with my daughter that the light pressure against her tummy helped relieve the symptoms of colic as well (in the same way that many babies draw their knees up toward their chest when they are feeling gassy).
3) Rock baby.
Just as that back and forth motion can be very calming for adults, it can also feel the same for babies and may help them to drift off to sleep. There were times when my daughter didn’t want me sitting down – for whatever reason it just didn’t feel as good for her – so standing and swaying would work much the same way as a rocking chair. The motion of a moving car (and perhaps the white noise of the engine?) is another little trick that works with some babies.
4) Turn on some white noise.
Speaking of the white noise of an engine, indoor options such as fans, a vacuum cleaner (believe it or not!), or even one of those “fancy” white noise machines can remind baby of the sounds of the womb, adding to their feeling of security. Gently talking or singing to baby can help too as they will recognize voices from before birth.
5) Carry baby close to you.
Using one of those front baby carriers can again apply some light pressure to the belly as well as feel comforting (who doesn’t feel comforted when being held?), warm, and cozy for the wee one. This can be especially soothing for a baby with colic.
6) Give baby a warm bath.
Now this only works if bath time is a relaxing time for baby. My daughter was generally anxious when in the water and so this trick didn’t work for her, but I’ve seen it prove very useful for other infants. Using some lavender or chamomile baby wash can add to the calming experience.
7) Follow up bath time with a gentle massage.
There are lots of books and websites with information on giving baby an actual massage. In fact, in my town, the local parks and rec department even has classes on it. But I found with my baby, even just a a simple gentle stroking of her back and her belly often soothed the symptoms of colic and helped relieve her gassiness and pain. Since bath time wasn’t a quiet time for her, this is when I used some lavender scented baby lotion. The scent of lavender is proven to help people of all ages relax (I spray some on my pillow just before bedtime!).
8) Use the colic hold/carry.
There are various ways to hold and carry your baby that can be comforting and offer relief if suffering from colic pains. I found putting my daughter on my shoulder so that her tummy was on my chest was soothing to her – she seemed to really relax not only from the body contact but also the warmth of my skin. Undressing, or partially undressing yourself and your baby, so that you have skin to skin contact also helps some babies (even without colic, this can help relax a baby having a hard time getting to sleep). The method picture above, the classic colic carry, involves laying baby face down across your arm with his cheek at your elbow. It’s another one that worked well for us.
9) Give baby the opportunity to suck.
Sucking is a comforting movement for babies and in between meals, offering your finger or a pacifier is another option that soothes some little ones.
10) Use GERBER SootheTM products.
Researchers have found that the type of bacteria present in the baby’s digestive system may indicate whether or not they have colic. The probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri has been shown through clinical testing to reduce crying in colicky babies by improving the good bacteria in baby’s digestive system. GERBER SootheTM products (Drops and powder formula) contain L. reuteri, a comforting probiotic that is safe for infants and similar to those found in breastmilk. My niece used the drops with her boys and now with her baby girl (pictured in this blog post) and swears by them. Gerber® Soothe Colic Drops is ideal for breastfed babies and Gerber® Good Start® Soothe Infant Formula is ideal for fed formula babies. Gerber’s promise is “Less crying for babies, More smiling for all” for good reason!
Gerber also has experts available to answer any of your questions – Registered Dietitians, Certified Lactation Consultants, and Certified Baby Sleep Consultants can be reached at 1-800-203-4565.
Note: I received a free sample of Gerber® Soothe probiotic colic drops and Gerber® Good Start® Soothe infant formula from Gerber® that we happily used for my sweet grand niece with great results. My thoughts and opinions are my own.