Best Sleeping Position For Colic Baby – Tips For Exhausted Parents

Best Sleeping Position For Colic Baby
Congratulations! Your little bundle of joy has joined you Earthside and is everything you’ve dreamt of. Those warm snuggles with your new baby can wipe all your worries away in a snap. However, the start of this beautiful journey is often accompanied by sleep deprivation and frustration, especially when it is coupled with your baby crying inconsolably for hours and hours, which your doctor termed as COLIC.

From one mom to another, don’t you doubt yourself for a minute. There is nothing wrong with your ability to soothe your baby who has trouble sleeping.

Colic is one of the biggest bumps in motherhood journey, but believe me you are not alone. Studies have shown that colic may affect 10% of newborn babies1 (some sources say it’s even up to 25% of infants2).

As colic is one of the leading causes of maternal sleep deprivation and even one of the factors that increases the risk of postpartum depression. It can add to your stress (which is probably already high because you’re a new parents!) which can prove to be detrimental to your health.

Here I have put together some sleep tips and tricks for finding the best sleeping position for colic baby, so you can figure out how to help a colicky baby sleep without giving up on your sanity.

This article is not a substitute for medical advice.

What Is The Best Sleeping Position For Colicky Baby?

Always remember, the best sleeping position for any baby, colic or non-colic, is the safest sleeping position. The experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggest that babies should sleep in their own safe sleeping place (either bassinet, mini crib or regular crib) and they should be placed to sleep on their backs until they reach the age of 1 year3.

However, colicky babies often refuse to fall asleep in this position, so you can experiment with other safe positions like slightly inclined, lying on their side, or the stomach – but only for calming down and helping them to falling asleep, not the whole nap time or bed time.

Best Sleeping Positions For Colic Baby

Please ensure that you never leave the baby unattended and once they fall asleep, it is advisable to shift them back to their crib, laying them flat on their back.

Here are some sleep positions you can experiment with, till you find out what works for you and your colicky baby:

  • On The Back

This is one of the most recommended sleeping positions for a baby with colic. This is particularly helpful in instilling healthy sleep habits while reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

  • Side Lying / On Stomach

Another sleep position that works for most babies with colic is when they are placed on their side. It can help reduce crying while also relieving them of their colic symptoms from the pressure build-up in their tummies. You can also put baby tummy-down across your knees and gently rub their back. When your little one falls asleep, transfer them to their crib4.

  • Inclined

When we slightly incline a colic baby from an upright position, it can help them calm down while improving the quality of sleep of the entire family.

It must be noted here that since they have not mastered their neck hold yet, the baby’s head can lop forward if left unsupervised.

So if you find yourself on the brink of sleep while sitting on a chair trying to soothe your crying baby, make sure to switch duties with other caregiver or change the baby’s position entirely.

All babies are different, so make sure you experiment with different sleeping position for colic babies till you find the perfect one for your newborn.

What Is The Colic Hold?

In an attempt to calm down your baby with colic, you might have come across the magic hold for colic, or the colic hold.

It is basically where you hold the baby face-down in a forward-leaning position, almost as if you are burping them, with your palm on their chest and their head supported by your thumb and finger. This exerts a slight pressure on their tummy and you will notice they instantly stop crying.

You can then try football hold while implementing other calming techniques like slightly rocking and/or shushing the baby. A lot of parents find that this technique works best to alleviate their baby’s crying.

What Is The Colic Hold
The Colic Hold

Five S Strategy

Apart from using the best sleeping position for colic baby, it has been found that the implementation of the Five S can guide parents to help their colic baby sleep, which is otherwise extremely difficult.

  • Swing Your Baby

Babies love to be in motion. Get that baby ring sling out – the motion and body contact during babywearing can be really helpful and soothing. Or buckle them up safely in a car seat and go for a drive in your car to help calm down your fussy baby.

  • Swaddle And Snuggle

Wrapping your baby snugly in a swaddle can calm their uncontrollable crying, as they feel safe and secure when swaddled. A baby sleeps better and longer when it knows it is in a safe and familiar environment. Sometimes it may seem like the newborn baby hates being swaddled – but don’t give up just yet. Try different swaddling techniques, and swaddles made from various fabrics.

  • Sucking

Babies tend to have a strong urge to suckle in their initial period. You can offer your breast if you breastfeed the baby, and a bottle if they are bottle-fed. You can also use a pacifier to help them calm down. Studies show that pacifiers can help reduce the incidence of SIDS.

  • Shush Their Tears Away

It seems that mimicking their life in a womb can result in calming colicky babies. Just like us, babies tend to feel better in familiar surroundings. So try to mimic their life in-utero by moving to a dark room, preferably with a white noise machine, and rocking them gently. Many babies seem to stop crying and fall asleep easily, finally giving that much-needed break to their parents.

  • Side Lying

You can hold your infants on their side while cradling them. This can help alleviate their distress, especially if you offer skin-to-skin contact. This can also minimize air swallowing and improve digestion.

Five S Strategy For Relieving Baby Colic

How Can I Relieve My Baby’s Colic Fast? – More Tips

Other than the Five S Strategy mentioned above, here are some other tips that can help you relieve your baby’s colic.

  • Reduce External Stimulation

Babies tend to cry more by the end of the day because they have been absorbing various signals from their surroundings. Take your baby to their nursery while your partner can keep the doting siblings busy somewhere else to help your colic baby sleep.

Play some soothing music or turn on the hair dryer to cancel out background noises. No lights, no rattling toys, just gentle rocking.

Keep in mind that colic and overstimulation and the worst combination!

  • Burp Your Baby Often

It is important to burp your baby after their feed, as they can show more fussiness if laid down. Try to hold them upright till they are burped. Burping them frequently can help them regulate better digestion.

  • Stick To A Nap Routine

Infants require a lot of sleep for their growth and development. A colic baby is getting less sleep than a regular baby, so it is crucial that you squeeze in a nap here and there, preferably in their favorite sleep position.

Experts believe that an evening nap can help reduce the burnout that awaits your colic baby in the late hours. Keep an eye open for their waking hours, so you can establish a good routine that can soothe your colic baby and help develop healthy sleep habits.

  • Modified Maternal Diet

If you want to rule out the possibility of breast milk making your baby gassy, try to eliminate certain foods from your diet5 e.g. dairy products, and cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower.

  • Take A Break

Babies cry all the time. However, when you are losing too much sleep and patience over your baby’s crying, it is totally acceptable to take a break6.

Ensure your infant is in a safe position or hand him over to another caregiver while you step out for five minutes till you gain your composure. Studies have shown that increased caregiver frustration can lead to infant injury namely Shaken Baby Syndrome7, which can prove to be fatal in some cases.

  • Infant Massage

Massage is a proven way to ease the discomfort of your baby with colic. Not only that, but this can serve as a bonding experience between you and the baby. It is recommended to massage the baby’s tummy in clockwise motions gently. You will notice how the baby starts to relax as you alleviate the gas in their tight belly.

  • Comfort Your Baby

Hold them tight. Gently rock them around. Let them know they are loved and cared for. Swaddle them to give them that sense of closeness and warm security they already know from your womb. Put them in the best sleep position. You can also sing or coo to them, or turn on the white noise device (like Hatch Rest or Rest Plus sound machines).

What Is Infantile Colic & What Causes It

Crying is a baby’s natural way to communicate with their parents/ caregivers. An infant can cry up to 2 hours per day which is considered normal. But when you have a colicky baby, they can cry for more than 3 hours per day.

The crying bouts in a baby with colic usually peak around the 6th week of age, though starting from the 10th day of life. While they grow out of this when they reach the age of 4-6 months8, it can wreak havoc on your mental state, rendering you incapable of taking care of other tasks.

How Many Hours Does Colic Last?


Even though the exact cause of colic remains unknown, there is a range of possible reasons that can lead to colic in a baby. Identifying the cause can help you calm your fussy baby, resulting in better sleep for you and the whole family.

  • Cow Milk Protein Allergy

Babies can be sensitive or intolerant to milk proteins in cow’s milk leading to discomfort, tummy pain, and inflammation. The doctor will advise hypoallergenic formula to help your gassy baby.

  • Under-Developed Digestive System

Babies have an immature digestive system which can take some time to adapt to proper digestion.

  • Being Over-Fed

More often than not, parents tend to overfeed their babies, especially when the baby starts crying. Imagine if you were to consume 3-4 boxes of milk, your body would not be able to digest all that lactose in a day, resulting in gas and bloating. This is what happens when you overfeed your baby.

  • Serotonin-Melatonin Theory

Sometimes babies can be fussy during the night because this is Serotonin levels peak9, causing the intestinal muscles to contract. As the babies reach the age of 4 months, they start producing melatonin that helps counter the effect of serotonin. Maybe this is why colic begins to disappear as babies reach 4 months mark.

  • Acid Reflux

If your baby has acid reflux, you might want to discuss this at your next visit to their doctor, especially if they don’t gain weight and they feel sick.

  • Food Sensitivities

Your baby might have food allergies or food sensitivities that lead to them being gassy. Try to cut out dairy products and cruciferous vegetables from your diet to see if your breastfed baby with colic starts getting more sleep.

However, if your baby’s colic symptoms do not improve, you can return to your previous diet.

Colicky Baby – What Are The Signs?

Here are the symptoms that you may notice:

  • Baby with colic will be fussy and irritable, with their hands clenched while they cry inconsolably for three hours in a day or more.
  • The crying usually starts around late evening proceeding into the night.
  • You might notice that they have tensed abdomen which feels hard to touch.
  • Parents often find their babies pulling their tiny legs up to their chests and passing gas.
  • There is often an active painful look on their face during colicky crying.
  • They seem otherwise healthy, they gain weight and do not exhibit any signs of sickness.

How Many Hours Does Colic Last?

According to Morris Wessel (who was the first to describe infant colic), colic can be described as excessive crying in an otherwise healthy and well-fed baby lasting for at least three hours or more per day, for more than three days a week, lasting for more than three consecutive weeks10.

Why Is Colic Worse At Night?

Babies, just like grown-ups, tend to get more tired by the end of the day.

Also, the night tends to be a lot quieter as compared to the daytime. Hence a regular crying episode can also seem to be intensified at night time.

The increased serotonin levels can be the reason for heightened symptoms at night as well.

Do Colic Babies Fart A Lot?

Babies tend to pass a lot of gas in their initial period.

This is due to their immature digestive system which is still figuring out how to process all the lactose in milk.


I hope you found something useful to get you and your baby sleeping through the night. When a baby is around 4-6 months of age, it will grow out of colic and you will sleep happily again. Till then, hold on tight and try to find the best sleeping positions to comfort your colicky baby.

The purpose of this article is informative. It’s not a substitute for professional medical advice or medical care. Remember: safety first! Consult your doctor/pediatrician in case of any doubts. The author of this article does not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here.


About Me - Zooey BarnettHello Moms! I am Zooey. I am a wife and a mother of three amazing kids: almost 5-year-old Haley and 2-year-old twins Jesse and Matthew. I am a jogger, cooker and blogger.

If you have a question or a comment, do not hesitate to write to me! 🙂

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