Are slings a simple solution for babies with colic?

If your newborn cried for more than 3 hours, more than 3 days for more than 3 weeks then your pediatrician was likely to hold colic responsible.
baby in blue sling.jpgWhile it can be comforting to know why your little one is in such distress, the diagnosis of colic still leaves much to be explained since there is no one proven cause of colic. Without knowing what is causing the problem, it can be quite difficult to prevent and stop. Thankfully, babies diagnosed with colic are otherwise considered to be healthy, thriving infants.
Unfortunately, colic outbursts typically occur in the late afternoon or early evening when you’re already tired from a full day and ready to relax at home with your family. Any parent who has experienced colic with a newborn can attest that fits of colic are likely to wear out both the child and parents. Dealing with colic in a state of exhaustion tends to make the whole situation even more challenging for parents. Needless to say when your little bundle of joy is no longer joyful, but rather is wailing uncontrollably, the only thing you care about is finding a way to make it stop and make it stop sooner rather than later.
It takes little more than a quick Google search to find an endless list of colic remedies from gripe water and probiotic drops to infant massage and swaddling techniques being are touted by parenting experts. To a new parent, it can seem that there are as many suggested remedies for colic as there are colicky babies. So what is an exhausted and overwhelmed new parent to do?


The good news is that it’s quite possible that something as simple as babywearing can bring your colicky baby woes to an end. Plenty of babywearing parents feel that simply wearing your child close to you is enough to stop the seemingly endless battle with colic.
So what exactly is it about babywearing that helps to stop colic?
Babies who are worn in slings and carriers tend to cry less than those who aren’t worn. Some experts believe that colicky babies crave more contact and that holding, snuggling and wearing them often can satisfy this need. When your baby in nestled comfortably in a carrier he or she is less likely to become stressed from overstimulation. A carrier creates an environment that is similar to the womb – baby is warm, safe and feels the gentle movement of being carried which is soothing to infants. Additionally, being carried in an upright position and gentle jostling of movement is said to promote better digestion and reduce gas that is often associated with colic.
While my husband and I couldn’t be positive that wearing our daughter would prevent or stop her from being colicky, we were certainly willing to give it a try, and we hoped that it would do the trick. Plus, we were both interested in the extra snuggling time that it gave each of us with her each. It also gave me a chance to get other things done at the same time, which was great for me because I am a really big multitasker and am almost always doing at least two things at once. Needless to say, as long as we wore her in a sling or wrap for a few hours each evening she was as happy, smiley baby.
If you’ve already noticed a pattern to your baby’s colic outbursts, try to begin wearing him or her in a sling, wrap or soft carrier before the usual time to attempt to prevent excessive crying and overstimulation. It’s also a good idea to limit visitors and keep the lights and noises low during this time of the day. It worked for our family and hopefully it will do the same for yours.
How did you make it through your newborn’s stint with colic? Did a sling do the trick? Or do you have a secret remedy of your own?


This post was contributed by Elizabeth from Baby Carriers Direct.

8 comments on “Are slings a simple solution for babies with colic?

  1. Elizabeth,
    What a nice post! I did not discover the sling until my third child was born and it was a lifesaver! My first and third were “colicky”…and I can say that the sling provided much relief! I could not believe how it allowed me to remain close to my infant, while still being actively involved with my other two small children. I swear by them! I wish I had enjoyed the same experience with my other two children! (Too bad they can’t be shrunk back down, huh? LOL)
    At any rate, I used to call my youngest my lil’ papoose. By age 1.5, he would walk up to my, arms extended and say, “Poose, mamma, poose!” We even have pics of his then 6 year old brother “wearing” him when he was an early toddler! Such great memeories!
    I think hospitals should provide a sling to every parent before they leave the hospital!
    Wendy Young, LMSW, BCD
    Child and Family Therapist
    Founder, Kidlutions(tm): Solutions for Kids
    http://www.kidlutions.com

  2. We provide baby massage teacher training courses for health workers and family outreach workers, and were heartened by the Cochrane review showing there is scientific evidence for baby massage to improve the attachment between parent and infant – whether or not it helps to relieve colic!

  3. when a baby has colic, it can be caused by undigested food………when the baby has something to drink or eat let the baby sit up and burp them before lying down

  4. This is something I’ve written about a few times as in my blog many people are at their rags end because of the lack of sleep.
    With our first baby we didn’t babywear until she was about 8 months old…what a blessing to discover it ever if a bit late.
    Now with baby two (at nearly 2 weeks) I can say wow any grumps and into the Mai Tai and he’s a happy chap…and so is baby 1 cause I can keep going with life.
    A link to some of my colic posts.
    http://parentingbabytosleep.blogspot.com/search?q=colic

  5. Unfortunately, it looks as though the answer to your title question is ‘No’. Research shows that, although some degree of increase in carrying your baby can decrease overall crying, it doesn’t seem to decrease colicky crying.
    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/117/6/e1146 is an article about a study comparing AP-style care with mainstream infant care in London and Copenhagen – two different cities picked because the cultures are somewhat different in terms of what’s considered appropriate amounts of time to spend holding your baby and/or leaving them alone. The study found that London parents spent an average of eight and a half hours in every twenty-four holding their newborns, Copenhagen parents an average of nine and three-quarter hours, and the AP group (recruited from the Continuum Concept site and similar websites) an average of sixteen and a half hours. However, the amount of time babies in each group spent in bouts of colicky/uncontrollable crying was the same, on average. The differences in time holding and carrying the baby didn’t seem to affect the frequency of colic.
    The different groups *did*, however, have different *total* amounts of crying (meaning all crying, including fussing). Both the Copenhagen group and the AP group had less total crying on average than the London group. Interestingly, although the Copenhagen group were closer to the London group than to the AP group in terms of amount of time spent holding their babies, the amount of crying among the Copenhagen babies was similar to that in the AP group – the many extra hours of holding in the AP group didn’t seem to make a difference. It isn’t obvious whether the difference in crying between the London group and the other two groups was due to the increased amount of carrying time in the other two groups, or the decreased amount of time that the babies in those groups were left alone to cry, or both, but it’s possible that the increase in carrying time may make a difference to total crying time. However, unfortunately, it just doesn’t seem to make a difference to the likelihood of getting the kind of prolonged, uncontrollable crying bouts that are known as colic.

  6. I am going to have to disagree with Sarah V. My five month old had symptoms that were diagnosed as colic and reflux for four months. I was unable to put her down for those first few months due to her incessant hysterical crying. Wearing her though, in my Moby wrap by loveduds seemed to help greatly. It gave her some relief from the reflux and seemed to calm her. I couldn’t have survived without it!

  7. Hi Dave,
    Thanks for those tips. When my second was born, he had an intolerance to protein that doctors said was making him colicky. Turned out what he had wasn’t colic, but gurd. We tried everything except a sling, (wish I’d seen this post back then) but we found ‘Gripe Water’ from a Mom’s board online and let me tell you… that stuff is a miracle cure. It’s all natural, over the counter and works on a lot of ailments, even helps with teething.

  8. Lack of movement could be the key! When you look at it from an anthropological perspective babies are supposed to be carried around by their hunter/gatherer nomad parents… and not lie down in a crib the entire day. What I’m saying is that maybe it is not associated with the baby being close to you but with it being carried around (being carried around is often bumby).

    We “believe”avoided colic by using the methods described by Gina Ford (I know she’s hated but I do not care if someone doesn’t like her, I care if my baby is ok and not crying). More accurately by properly breastfeeding. A few of our friends were not as lucky and they were helped either by fennel tea or by Biogaia drops.

    Colic definitely is one of those things where it is better to be a bit paranoid and prevent them than to have to cure it…

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