Infant Tips

Ignoring My Mom’s Advice, Except About Colic

By Elizabeth Jackson
As a working mom of three children, ages 12, 10, and 6, I have had my fair share of spit-ups on my work clothes, pumping everywhere imaginable during business trips, and changing sheets after pee accidents just two hours before the alarm clock.  But while the baby years seem a long time ago, one important lesson is imprinted on my mind.
When my first child, Karl, was born, my mom had all sorts of opinions to share, including putting him on a strict every four hour feeding cycle.  I, on the other hand, wanted to feed him on demand, and let my breast be a pacifier.  But after some feedings, however, I found that my son would cry, and nothing I tried would help.
And then my mom shared the most valuable mom advice I ever received.  “Try 25 things to soothe a colicky, or just crying, baby.”  Try 25 things? Yes.  And write them down, as your go-to resource.
Tips such as:
  1. Hold him high on your shoulder (so his belly rests on the shoulder bone)
  2. Swaddle him tight, stand up, and sway your body with him in your arms
  3. Walk outside with him in a stroller
  4. Put him in his car seat and gently rock it on the floor
  5. Turn on a ceiling fan
  6. Pat his bum
  7. Hum or sing (I have a horrible voice, but it still helped calm my baby)
  8. Pat his bum, hum, and sway all at the same time
  9. Turn the lights on
  10. Turn the lights off
  11. Move to the couch
  12. Lie down together on the bed
  13. Place him tummy down on your bare chest
  14. Run his feet under the faucet in the sink
  15. Make a shhh-shhing sound
  16. Gently bend his knees towards his chest (that helps move out possible gas)
  17. Run the vacuum cleaner
  18. Turn on classical music
  19. Hold him in a football hold
  20. Tickle his toes
  21. Play peek-a-boo
  22. Read him a book (your voice is calming)
  23. Snap your fingers to a rhythm
  24. Dance around the room like a waltz with him in your arms
  25. Change his diaper, even if you don’t think he needs a new one
Her point was don’t just try two or three thing before you give up.  Try twenty-five.  It might be the touch or the smell or the sight or the sound that will soothe your child.  But try a vast range of different things, as every baby may have his or her favorite.  For me, the running water always did the trick.  I shared my list with other family members and future babysitters, too.  share them with your friends, as everyone’s baby cries at some point.  That is how they communicate with us.
Choose what advice you take from your mom, but sometimes there is a gem in there!

What other suggestions do you have for moms when trying to calm a fussy baby?

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Dr. Levine

Dr. Alanna Levine is a New York based pediatrician and a mom of two children.