How To Help A Colic Baby Sleep

How To Help A Colic Baby Sleep

Posted by Kerry Nevins on

Are you distressed by the crying patterns of your colicky baby? Aside from the tears, if you have a baby with colic, it is more than likely that none of you are sleeping well. Many physicians still do not agree about what causes colic or how to cure it, but most will agree that after three months of age, your baby’s colic will vanish. Three months in "babyland" is a long time, right? 

If you have a baby with colic, here are some tips for surviving the next three months. 

Your Baby Should Only Have 60-90 Minute Breaks Between Naps

This is the maximum period of time a newborn should stay awake between naps believe it or not! Bear in mind that sometimes babies with colic will last only 40-60 minutes before needing another nap, depending on the duration of the previous one.

Use Your Soothing Skills

Babies with colic respond really well to the techniques laid out below. Start with the first step and work your way through the rest, you’ll be surprised at how effective this can be...

Swaddling - helps your baby feel safe and secure, mimics the womb and helps keep moro reflex at bay. You can read more about swaddling here.

Side/Stomach Hold - Instead of the typical cradle position, hold your baby on their sides, or face down similar to that football hold you might have learned about in newborn classes.

Swinging - use your body to sway your baby from side to side.

Sucking - offer your baby a pacifier or thumb to soothe and calm them.

Shushing -  make a light “shhhh-shhhh-shhhh” sound close to your baby’s ear as you perform all the previous techniques simultaneously. Even the white noise from vacuum cleaners and hair dryers can help calm down a fussy baby.

Naps and the Nursery

A 0-3 month old baby with colic can get about 4-6 naps a day with about 10 hours of sleep at night and 5 hours of sleep during the day. Encouraging your baby to take naps throughout the day will make it easier to put them down to bed for the night and should improve their chances of having a more restful night’s sleep. Ensure that the sleeping area is dark and calm and add white noise for added comfort. Try introducing an eat-play-sleep routine, feeding your baby after their nap, instead of before.

Reduce Evening Stimulation

Most babies, including those without colic, experience the Witching Hour after 5pm. Babies can be overstimulated at the slightest thing, causing more annoyance than normal. This means allowing minimal TV, dimming the lights, and making sure the room you're in isn't too exciting or interesting. During this time, restrict guests, asking them to visit in the morning instead, when your baby is more rested. 

Routines & Bedtime

We can send babies social signals as early as 6-8 weeks old, which allows them to understand what's next, such as: bath time, a relaxing massage and a feed in their bed. This routine will be a signal that it's time to wind down and go to sleep. 

Babies with colic tend to sleep best at a 30 degree angle in an elevated cribs, or swaddled and propped up in a semi-upright position. Feeding just after naps rather than before means your baby is less likely to encounter any digestive problems.

Here’s the good news: The average baby with colic will grow out of it between 3-4 months of age (thank goodness!) 

For more information on baby colic and reflux, you might like to read these blogs:

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