Calming a crying baby

What does it mean when your baby just won’t stop crying? Our experts offer their top tips

My baby is constantly crying

“We realized we had a problem when telling my sister, who has two children, about Diego’s frequent crying. I just thought it was normal – he was otherwise healthy – but she thought it sounded like colic, and my GP confirmed it. To see him cry inconsolably for hours breaks my heart. It often goes on late into the evening. What can I do to help him, and us?” says René Chan, 32, mum to Diego, 10 weeks.

Expert tips to help calm a crying baby

Is it colic? “If Diego’s crying for more than three hours a day, three days a week for at least one week, then yes – it could well be colic, especially if he’s also crying more in the afternoons and evenings. But the good news is that it usually fades on its own by around six months. 

"Until then, there are a few tried-and-tested remedies to help him feel better: sit or hold him upright while you’re feeding to stop him swallowing air; gently rock him over your shoulder after feeds to help dislodge any trapped wind; and hold or cuddle him when he’s really crying hard. 

"You could also consider using anti-colic products such as gripe water or anti-wind drops, but there is little evidence to show that these actually work, so speak to your health visitor for advice,” says Angela Chalmers, Boots pharmacist.

Rule out hunger

“Before absolutely assuming Diego has colic, I would try offering extra milk in a bottle to rule out hunger. If he’s happier and more settled after drinking, it’s clearly not colic. If he remains colicky and unsettled, and you’re breastfeeding, take note of what you eat to see if any food triggers it. 

"Also make sure he’s latched on correctly, wind him frequently and try using a nipple shield if you have a very fast milk flow, which could be making him feed too quickly. Ask your health visitor for advice on how and when to use these effectively. If you’re using bottles, experiment with different anti-colic ones to see if one suits him better. 

"You could also try (when possible) going out for long walks with him in his pram, to help rock him to sleep,” says Clare Byam-Cook, Boots Parenting Club breastfeeding expert.

Try baby massage

“Baby massage can help colicky babies, as it encourages trapped air to pass through the digestive system. Try this twice a day, when Diego is calm. 

"Place a drop of baby moisturizer or emollient into your palms, rub your hands together to warm it up, then press your palm gently onto his tummy. 

"Starting at 12 o’clock, massage in a clockwise direction in a smooth, continuous way for a few minutes. You’ll find he probably likes an even rhythm. Two weeks of this can help relieve colicky symptoms. It’ll help strengthen your bond, too!” says Angela Davy, Boots Parenting Club health visitor.