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The Colic Survival Guide


Dealing with a crybaby? Don't lose hope. “The idea that colic is normal and you just have to suck it up is simply not true,” says Colic Clinic founder Barry Lester Ph.D. Try these expert strategies for a colicky little one:

1. Switch up the menu. “Up to one in three babies with colic actually suffers with milk protein allergy,” says Dr. Vartabedian. If you're nursing, cut out dairy from your diet for a few weeks to see if that helps. If baby's bottle-fed, talk to your doc about switching formulas.

2. Help the food stay down. Almost all babies spit up, but spitting up paired with difficulty feeding may indicate acid reflux. Ease his discomfort by burping him frequently and keeping him upright 20 minutes after feedings.

3. Fix the flow. “A baby who's working harder to get more food … is going to swallow a lot of air,” says Dr. Vartabedian. In a breastfed baby, check her latch. In a bottle-fed babe, talk with her doc to see if a faster-flow nipple might help.

4. Start the night right. Colicky babies may benefit from soothing bedtime routines, says Jean Twomey Ph.D., a clinical social worker and assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior and pediatrics at Brown University's Alpert Medical School. Dim the lights, play gentle music and rock her.

5. Boost good bacteria. Some doctors think imbalances in intestinal bacteria may make baby irritable. Giving a probiotic through drops or formula may ease tears. “There are a number of studies showing that L. reuteri has a significant impact on crying,” says Dr. Vartabedian.

6. Put the paci to work. Offer a pacifier if she needs soothing when it's not mealtime. During the day, feed her every two to three hours.

7. Call in backup so you can get some Z's. Once parents start sleeping better, the improvement in their emotional state and energy level is amazing. “It's hard to overestimate the role that sleep has on a parent's mental health,” says Twomey.

8. Step away. If nothing is working, put your baby in a safe place, such as her crib, and take a five- to 10-minute breather.