Dr. Greene

3 Tips for How the Whole Family Can Cope with Colic

Almost all babies go through a fussy period. But, when crying lasts for about three hours or more each day and is not related to a medical problem, it is called colic and it can be very distressing for babies, their parents and siblings, too.
Helping a child with colic is primarily a matter of experimentation and most colic solutions only help in about one third of babies. Since it’s hard to predict what will work, combining remedies is often the most helpful. (Try these 10 tips for reducing colic.)
Still, efforts to reduce colic are just one pillar of dealing with colic. You should also be proactive about coping with it as a family. Here are 3 tips for soothing your baby, supporting siblings, and helping save your sanity during these stressful months:
1. Stick to routines.
Colicky babies often become the center of the family universe and everything ends up revolving around their bouts of distress. But it’s important to try your best to create and maintain established routines.
  • Good for baby: Routine and consistency can be important for babies in order to establish healthy sleep and wake cycles, but often even more so with colicky babies. And, they may need more help given their extra sensitivities that can quickly disrupt routines. Try to create a feed-play-sleep cycle through the day that repeats every 3 hours or so. Repetition could help baby settle into a schedule.
  • Good for siblings: Keeping any meal time or bedtime routines you had already established with older siblings could help them feel more secure and comfortable through the chaos of colic.
  • Good for you: Life with a colicky baby can feel out of your control. By being more conscientious about creating routines, you could help maintain an inner feeling of control which can be vital for coping.
2. Get moving.
Taking your screaming baby out into public may be the last thing you want to do, but sometimes an appropriate change of scenery can be good for the whole family.
  • Good for baby: Some babies are comforted with gentle movement, whether from a swing, a car ride, a ride in a jog stroller, or a parent’s arms.
  • Good for siblings: Small children have seemingly boundless energy and they need ample opportunities to use it (or they can become upset and frustrated, too!)
  • Good for you: A brisk walk or jog is great exercise for keeping you healthy and it’s also a proven mood booster and stress reliever.
3. Take time-outs.
Everybody needs regular breaks from the daily demands of a colicky baby.
  • Good for baby: Babies sense your stress and it can compound their anxiety and increase the bouts of crying. Call in a friend or family member to give your baby a “time-out” from you. Hopefully, a calmer caregiver can help calm her down and give you a moment to breathe, too.
  • Good for siblings: Everyday, fit in some quality one-on-one time with siblings (no matter how short). They need the opportunity to have your undivided attention and feel like the center of the family universe, too. Without it, they may start acting out in order to capture your attention. You should also consider having “dates” with your child outside of the house. It’ll be beneficial for both of you to completely remove yourself from the situation and just enjoy one another’s company.
  • Good for you: This should be abundantly obvious, but you might need breaks to restore and rejuvenate!
Babies usually outgrow colic by the age of three to four months, but when you’re in the midst of coping with it, it can feel like a lifetime. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and remember - this will pass.

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Dr. Greene

Dr. Greene is a practicing pediatrician, author, speaker, children’s health advocate, and father of four.

Dr. Levine

Dr. Alanna Levine is a New York based pediatrician and a mom of two children.