5 Tips to help your colicky baby sleep — Sleep and the City


60-90 minutes

This is the MAX amount of time that a newborn can stay awake between sleeps.  So yes, that means you’ve got about 45 minutes to feed, and then you’re only left with another 30-45 minutes (if that) to change, change clothes, minimal play, and it’s time for that next nap.  Keep in that babies with colic can sometimes only make it 40-60 minutes between naps too, depending on the length of the one prior. Wanna get a free schedule that makes sense? Take our free quiz here to download a schedule straight to your phone for every age.

Use your soothing skills

Babies with colic LOVED to be held, and soothed. Start with #1, and add the following steps until your little one has calmed down. Here are the tips from Dr. Harvey Karp; maker of the Snoo:

Swaddle those babies up- it helps them feel safe, it mimics the womb, and helps keep moro reflex at bay. 

Shushing:  a light “shhhh-shhhh-shhhh” sound you can make, even vacuums and hair dryers have been known to calm down a fussy baby. 

Side/Stomach Hold: Instead of the typical cradle position, hold them on their sides, or face down similar to that football hold you learned about in newborn class.  

Swinging: using your body to sway baby with colic from side to side

Sucking: offering the pacifier or thumb to soothe via oral stimulation. 

Naps and the Nursery

A baby with colic who is 0-3 months old should be getting about 4-6 naps a day, with about 10 hours of sleep at night and 5 hours during the day.  Having your baby take naps during the day will increase their chances at a more restful sleep at nighttime, and make them easier to put down for bed.  Make sure that he/her sleep area is dark, with white noise, and the area is free of hazardous materials. Feed baby AFTER the nap, instead of prior, using the soothings tips above and moving an Eat-Play-sleep routine, easily outlined for busy parents found in our Newborn Sleep DIY Guide.

Reduce Evening Stimulation

After 5pm is when most children, even babies without colic, experience the Witching Hour (read more about this here.) Babies will be overstimulated at the slightest thing, causing more upset than usual. This means limited television, dim the lights, and be sure that the room you are in isn’t overly excitable or crazy.  Limit visitors during this time, asking that they visit instead in the morning when baby is more rested.

Routines & Bedtime

As early as 6-8 weeks old we can give babies social cues, which helps them understand what’s “coming next” such as: bath time, soothing massage, followed by a feed in their room can all signal that it’s time to wind down and go to sleep.  Most parents are shocked when I suggest that newborns go to bed between 10-11pm (most are only capable for 4-6 stretches at night at first, or 11pm-4am for example), so be sure to offer a nap in the evening to bridge the gap until bedtime. Colicky babies prefer to sleep in elevated cribs at 30 degrees, or held upright/in a wrap. Feed post naps, so that your baby with colic isn’t experiencing any digestive issues while attempting to sleep.

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