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Ask the Expert: How Do I Calm a Colicky Baby?

If you've got a colicky baby, chances are you feel guilty and might be at a loss on how to soothe her. Dr. Alanna Levine, a pediatrician and mom, offers tips for calming colic and regaining your sanity.


sleeping newborn babyWhat Is Colic, and What Causes It?

All babies cry. They eat, sleep, pee, poop, and cry. But knowing that doesn’t make it any easier to listen to your own child upset. While bringing a new baby into your home always comes with challenges, having a baby that cries excessively truly makes it even harder. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first child or your third, when you have a child that is difficult to soothe, feelings of frustration, sadness, and even guilt are common.

Colic or 'colicky' symptoms can begin as early as 2 weeks of life, peak around 6 to 8 weeks, but usually resolve by 4 months of life. Oftentimes the crying begins in the early evening hours, just as you are feeling tired at the end of a long, demanding day. We don’t know exactly what causes colic, but some experts believe that certain young babies have difficulty self-soothing and therefore are not always comforted by the usual means of feeding, holding, and rocking.


What's the Best Way to Soothe a Colicky Baby?

I often tell parents in my office, "Sometimes it just takes a village." I encourage them to utilize the village around them. Enlist the help of friends, neighbors, and family. It doesn’t make you a bad or an inadequate parent to need a break from a crying baby who is difficult to calm. It’s amazing how meaningful a short break of even an hour during the ‘witching period’ can be. Go for a brisk walk or take a bubble bath. Read a magazine. All you may need is a relaxing quiet escape from the crying. You will return refreshed, less frustrated, and better able to handle the rest of the evening.

There are so many opportunities for parents to feel guilty when raising their children. I like to remind parents that sometimes to be the best parent you can be, you need a little distance, a little break. Knowing what you need and when to ask for help is much more important than striving to be a 'super parent.' In the end, you win and your child wins too.


Alanna Levine, M.D., is a Rockland County-based pediatrician, mom of two, and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Levine sees patients at Orangetown Pediatric Associates in Tappan, NY, and is a staff member at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in Englewood, NJ. She completed her internship and residency at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan.


For more facts and tips about colic from Born Free, the organization that declared March as Colic Awareness Month, visit


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