How can I soothe a colicky baby?

Q: What's the best way to soothe a colicky baby?

A: If your baby is suffering from colic (defined as three or more hours a day of continued crying without explanation, like being hungry or having a wet diaper), there's unfortunately no silver-bullet treatment. But you can experiment with these tricks until you find the one that works best for your baby.• Pace back and forth across the room with your baby in a carrier.• Rock your baby.• Place your baby across your lap on his belly and rub his back.• Put your baby in a swing. The motion may have a soothing effect.• Put your baby in his car seat and go for a ride. The vibration and movement of the car often calm a baby.• Run the vacuum in the next room or place your baby where she can hear the dryer. Steady rhythmic motion and white noise may help her fall asleep.• Play peaceful-sounding CDs, such as soothing ocean sounds or soft music.• Give your baby a pacifier. While some breastfed babies may refuse it, it will provide instant relief for others.If you suspect that gas might be causing your baby's colic, there are also ways to ease the gas build-up in her tummy. If you're bottlefeeding, try switching your baby's formula (ask your doctor for a recommendation) or burping her more often during feedings. If you're breastfeeding, take a look at some of the foods you're eating that could lead to your baby having gas. Common foods that trigger gas include cabbage, coffee, onions, chocolate, nuts, and dairy products. It may also help to keep a diary of what you eat so that you can make a connection between your diet and when your baby's colic seems to act up.Comforting an inconsolable baby can be incredibly frustrating, but remember that colic is temporary. For most babies, it usually goes away by 3 months or so. --Karin A. Bilich

Updated 2009.

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