5 Solutions for Colic from Harvey Karp

Maybe one of these strategies will calm your baby.

If your baby isn't hungry, wet, or sleepy, and he's still wailing, try the 5-S solution from Harvey Karp, MD, creator of the DVD and book, The Happiest Baby on the Block. "Inside the womb, babies are swaddled, rocked, jiggled, and shushed," he says. "You need to imitate those conditions in order to turn on the calming reflex."

  • Swaddling: Wrap your baby tightly in a square blanket, making sure his arms and legs can't flail and upset him. He may cry harder at first, but keep going.
  • Side or Stomach Holding: The football hold, with baby on her tummy, is great, or you can try holding her as if you were going to breastfeed, but facing out. (But don't leave your baby in the crib this way: the side or stomach position is not good for sleeping.)
  • Shushing: Parents have no idea how noisy it is in the womb, and most babies really respond to what we call white noise. Say a long, loud sh-h-h-h-h-h-h in his ear, as loudly as he's crying, to mimic the whoosh of the fluid in the womb. You can also try tuning your radio to static, starting an appliance, or running a vacuum cleaner or hair dryer.
  • Swinging or Jiggling: Sit with your feet slightly apart, knees together, with baby on her side or stomach, her head toward your knees. Jiggle your knees with very tiny, very quick but gentle movements. Her head should move slightly, but remember to keep the movements small. It is dangerous to shake a baby.
  • Sucking: Offer your breast, your finger, or a pacifier.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, April 2004.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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