Overtired Baby or Colic? How to Stop the Crying! | Healthy Mama Hacks (2023)

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Have you ever heard of an over-stimulated or overtired baby?

Do you have a fussy, or “colicky” baby that is hard to settle?

If so, you are, no doubt, going through a very difficult season of life!

I want you to know that you are NOT alone!

Not only that, but you are NOT a failure as a mom…You are a VERY GOOD MOM and you need a hug, right now! << HUG >>

Take a deep breathe and keep speaking this truth to yourself!

Overtired Baby or Colic? How to Stop the Crying! | Healthy Mama Hacks (2)

I have a bit of good news for you today…

Did you know that your fussy, “colicky” baby may actually be an overstimulated, “under-stimulated” or overtired baby instead?

How do we know the difference?

In this post we are going to discuss colic including its medical definition, symptoms and possible causes.

We are also going to explore what it means to have an overtired, overstimulated or under-stimulated baby.

Could it be that you have an overtired baby who isn’t actually in pain?

Yes! It’s very possible!

The good news is… that if this is actually the case with your baby, it can be a relatively easy fix and very preventable too!

Read on….

Overtired Baby or Colic? How to Stop the Crying! | Healthy Mama Hacks (3)

In this post….

Here’s what we are going to discuss about colic in this post:

  • its medical definition
  • symptoms of colic
  • possible causes
  • the calming reflex in newborns
  • the 5 S’s
  • the SNOO Smart Sleeper
  • how to help the overtired/overstimulated baby
  • why sleep cues are important
  • better naps=better night sleep
  • the 60-90 minute rule!

What is Colic?

So, speaking of colic, what exactly is colic?

Well, the medical definition of colic is described as an infant whose inconsolable crying lasts at least three hours each stretch, occurs at least three days a week and persists for at least three weeks in a row.

Wow! That’s a lot of crying!

(Video) How To Calm A Crying Baby - Dr. Robert Hamilton Demonstrates "The Hold" (Official)

Sadly, many babies exceed this amount of crying too.

It is also believed that 1 in 5 babies have some degree of infant colic.

What are Symptoms and Signs of Colic?

  • Crying occurs at the same time every day (usually in the late afternoon or early evening, but it can vary).
  • Crying seems to occur for no reason (not because baby has a dirty diaper or is hungry).
  • Baby may pull up or kick his legs, clench his fists, arch his back, and generally move his legs and arms more.
  • He will often close his eyes or open them very wide, furrow his brow, even hold his breath briefly.
  • His face may appear flushed or distressed.
  • Bowel activity may increase, and he may pass gas or spit up.
  • Eating and sleeping are disrupted by the crying — baby frantically seeks a nipple only to reject it once sucking has begun, or dozes for a few moments only to wake up screaming.
  • His tummy may appear bloated or hardened.
  • Baby’s crying is inconsolable and may turn to screaming.

What Causes Colic?

Well, this is where things begin to get a little fuzzy.

Notice that the medical definition of colic doesn’t exactly mention anything about causes of all the crying!

That is because the cause of colic remains a mystery to those in the medical profession.

However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t answers to this question!

Here are the most commonly believed causes of infant colic:

Is Colic a Myth?

For centuries, it was believed that colic was caused by gastrointestinal or digestive distress in the newborn.

But that is no longer believed to be the case.

While many babies may indeed experience food sensitivities, digestive pain or gas which causes inconsolable crying, there is little modern research to suggest this to be the actual cause of so-called “colic”.

There are many experts who go so far as to say that colic is actually a myth!

One such doctor is Dr. Harvey Karp, MD., author of The Happiest Baby on the Block.

Overtired Baby or Colic? How to Stop the Crying! | Healthy Mama Hacks (4)

However, if you are a parent of a screaming baby, you know full well that colic is indeed very real!

Am I right?

What is the REAL Cause of Colic?

So why would Dr. Karp and other newborn experts say that colic is a myth then?

Great question!

The reason is that they DO believe that there is an underlying cause to most cases of colic.

But it’s not what you’d think.

In fact, most “colicky babies” may not be experiencing physical pain at all, but they are still suffering in a sense.

According to Dr. Karp, newborns are all born too early.

Their brains are not fully developed and they still have lots of developing and maturing to do during the 4th trimester.

Because their brains are not fully developed, they are easily over stimulated, under stimulated and quickly become overtired.

(Video) How to settle an overtired, fussy or colicky baby.

The good news?

We can help them settle down and relax by recreating the environment of the womb and tapping into their calming reflex!

With a few soothing techniques, your baby will be able to stop his crying and feel safe, secure and relaxed.

Overtired Baby or Colic? How to Stop the Crying! | Healthy Mama Hacks (5)

How to Help an Overstimulated, Under Stimulated or Overtired Baby

According to Dr. Karp, we can help our newborns to get the gentle stimulation that their brains received in utero without overstimulating or overtiring them.

We can do this by using the 5-S’s.

What are the 5 S’s?

  1. Swaddle – Make sure you swaddle properly too!
  2. Side/Stomach
  3. Shushing
  4. Swinging
  5. Sucking


Although swaddling and sound machines are part of the 5- S routine, most parents use these techniques incorrectly! Are you making these 10 Common New Parent Sleep Mistakes? Your baby will sleep SO MUCH BETTER if you get these right!

These five calming techniques will not only remind baby of the womb, but allow him to stimulate his brain in a way that activates his calming reflex.

When you use the 5 S’s, it’s much easier to calm a fussy baby and help him to fall asleep faster.

Speaking of the 5 S’s… did you know that there is now a special bassinet that implements some of these calming techniques for you?

It’s called the SNOO and it’s getting quite the buzz these days in new parent circles!

Have you heard of it?

SNOO Smart Sleeper

So what exactly is the SNOO?

It’s a “magical” baby bassinet that helps your baby fall asleep and stay asleep by recreating the womb sounds and motions.

The SNOO has its own never-fail swaddle that is easy to use.

You will never have trouble with your baby busting loose with this swaddle!

In addition, the bassinet is able to detect when your baby is stirring and helps her stay asleep by automatically beginning a jiggly rocking motion with shushing sounds that lull her back to sleep.

Pretty neat, huh?

It’s a bit pricey, but many parents say it’s well worth it!

The best part…. you can rent the SNOO!

I personally prefer baby-wearing and human contact with our babies as much as possible, but let’s face it….it is not always feasible or possible!

(Video) Pediatrician reveals magic touch to calm crying baby in seconds

Sometimes new parents just need a break to take a shower, right?

Not only that, baby wearing can be hard on the back or shoulders, especially if you have a heavier tot.

If you have a baby that only sleeps when held, cries when you lay her down, wakes up every 20-45 minutes, and has a hard time sleeping, you may want to learn more about renting or buying the SNOO.

Also, if you are exhausted from lack of sleep, or just need a break from holding your bab y now and then, you are NOT alone!

Having a new baby is REALLY TOUGH and the SNOO may help!

You can check it out here.

What about the Overtired Baby?

The problem of the overtired baby is closely related to an infant being overstimulated or under stimulated.

Babies need the right kind of stimulation to activate the calming reflex.

Likewise, too much of the wrong kind of stimulation (being awake too long) can quickly cause a baby’s body to release adrenaline and cortisol, making it nearly impossible for the baby to relax, fall asleep and stay asleep.

Most Babies Do Not Get Enough Sleep!

Do you have a newborn that is often awake more than one hour after a feeding?

Once she falls asleep, does she have trouble staying asleep for longer than 45 minutes?

Does your baby have a “witching hour” or cry and fuss mainly during the evening hours?

If so, you probably have an overtired baby on your hands!

Let’s help your baby get the sleep she needs!

How to Help an Overtired Baby

The best way to help an overtired baby is to prevent it before it happens!

But, if you suspect that you already have an overtired baby, take action to get him away from noise and activity.

Take him into a quiet, dark room with a sound machine. (phone app works too!)

Use the 5-S’s as mentioned above and work to prevent your baby from getting into this state in the first place.

How do you do this?

By watching for sleep cues.and getting him down to sleep as soon as you see them!

DON’T WAIT until the fussing or crying starts!

Learning to recognize your baby’s early sleep cues is the key here.

(Video) How To Stop A Crying Baby (Colic Baby Remedies)

By the way, It is a MYTH that a baby who sleeps too much during the day will be awake all night. Don’t believe it!

The opposite is actually true!

You may have heard the phrase that “sleep begets sleep.”

This is especially true with babies!

The better your baby naps during the day, the better he will sleep at night…. Yes, really… Try it!

The truth is that babies need LOTS of sleep and most babies simply are not getting enough!

As long as your baby eats every 2-3 hours during the day, he can nap until his heart’s content. (in between feedings)

In fact, if you haven’t heard of the 60-90 minute wake rule and “wake windows” for babies, find out more in this post.

Once you have learned more about your baby’s “wake windows”, and how to watch for his sleep cues, it will be so much easier to get him down to sleep.

If your baby is getting better sleep, the evening “fussies” or “colic” could be a thing of the past!

To Summarize:

  1. Watch for sleep cues and encourage lots of daytime napping mixed with plenty of daytime feedings!
  2. Reduce stimulation such as lots of visitors, TV noise, bright lighting, computers and loud conversations.
  3. Use the 5-S’s to soothe and calm your baby.

If Your Baby Seems Gassy

If you believe that your infant’s excessive crying is due to gas pains or digestive woes, you may be right!

However, know that it is very common for babies to spit up and pass gas while crying.

Just because your baby is kicking his legs, passing gas and spitting up during or after crying episodes, does not necessarily mean that this is the underlying cause of his crying.

Does this make sense?

If you haven’t tried the 5-S’s or explored the overtired baby theory, I encourage you to give these soothing techniques a try!

Before you go on an elimination diet or remove healthy foods from your diet, consider the possibility that it may not be a digestive issue after all.

If your baby is only fussy during the evening hours and seems fine other times of the day, this may very well be the case!

Take steps to improve your baby’s daytime napping, recognizing sleep cues and work to prevent the crying before it even starts!

Dealing with a crying baby is so hard, mama, and I sincerely hope that these tips will be a game changer for you and your baby!

There are other reasons that your baby may be crying. Check out these 21 Solutions for Calming a Crying Baby!


To learn more about how to improve your baby’s night time sleep, find out if you are making these common new parent sleep mistakes!

Do you think you may have an overstimulated or overtired newborn? Have you had any success calming him with these or other soothing techniques?


What do you do when your overtired baby won't stop crying? ›

Hold them on their side or stomach or whatever favorite position you have discovered works best for them so they can feel your calm body reassure them that it's ok to nap. An overtired baby might be able to catch up on their sleep debt best with a contact nap, if you can do it.

What helps a colic baby with crying? ›

How can you soothe a baby with colic?
  1. Hold and cuddle your baby.
  2. Walk with your baby.
  3. Swaddle your baby in a soft blanket.
  4. Sing and talk softly to your baby.
  5. Sway back and forth while you hold your baby, or find other ways to gently rock her. ...
  6. Gently rub your baby's back.
Aug 6, 2020

Can you let a colic baby cry it out? ›

Let your baby cry—for a little while. If walking, rocking, singing, massaging, and the like don't seem to make a difference, put the baby in the crib for 10 to 15 minutes and see if he or she quiets alone. Sometimes a baby needs a little time alone—and you may need it, too. Take a stress break.

Should you let an overtired baby cry it out? ›

If you go to them after they have been crying for some time, it could confused them and extend the process longer or create new issues. Instead, it's best to either let them cry it out, or choose a different approach that is less strict on rules but fits better with your family's values.

What is it when a baby is crying no stopping what is it? ›

Colic. Excessive crying could be a sign that your baby has colic. Everyone agrees that colic exists, but nobody knows what causes it. Some doctors think it's a kind of stomach cramp.

How do you give Colic Calm? ›

When colic symptoms occur, fill provided measured oral dispenser up to 1/2 teaspoon and dispense slowly, drop-by-drop into mouth between cheek and gums. A measured dispenser such as the NumiMed that we offer (or the like) can also be used in place of the blue dropper, to administer Colic Calm.

What is the fastest way to make a baby stop crying? ›

To soothe a crying baby:
  1. First, make sure your baby doesn't have a fever. ...
  2. Make sure your baby isn't hungry and has a clean diaper.
  3. Rock or walk with the baby.
  4. Sing or talk to your baby.
  5. Offer the baby a pacifier.
  6. Take the baby for a ride in a stroller.
  7. Hold your baby close against your body and take calm, slow breaths.

What is the best home remedy for colic? ›

Your baby may calm down if you:
  1. Lay them on their back in a dark, quiet room.
  2. Swaddle them snugly in a blanket.
  3. Lay them across your lap and gently rub their back.
  4. Try infant massage.
  5. Put a warm water bottle on your baby's belly.
  6. Have them suck on a pacifier.
  7. Soak them in a warm bath.
May 31, 2021

What triggers colic? ›

Food allergies or intolerances. Overfeeding, underfeeding or infrequent burping. Early form of childhood migraine. Family stress or anxiety.

Is colic caused by mothers diet? ›

Colic seems to affect infants between the ages of about three to six weeks, but could last up to at least a year. There are many possible explanations as to why an infant may become colicky, but there is no known cause. Eating a healthy diet while breastfeeding is important for all mothers.

Does gripe water help with colic? ›

Does gripe water work? Some parents swear by it—and it could make sense that sugar and certain herbs might help alleviate some discomfort. But there are no scientific studies that show that gripe water can relieve gas, colic or any other ailment.

How long does a colic episode last? ›

Colic is a relatively common condition that affects up to 1 in 4 newborn babies. It typically starts within the first 6 weeks and goes away within 4 months, although it may last up to 6 months. It is marked by extended periods of crying for no obvious reason.

How long do colic cries last? ›

Colic is when a healthy baby cries for a very long time, for no obvious reason. It is most common during the first 6 weeks of life. It usually goes away on its own by age 3 to 4 months. Up to 1 in 4 newborn babies may have it.

Is colic crying for 3 hours straight? ›

Colic is defined as "excessive crying." An infant with colic usually cries for more than three hours per day on more than three days per week. Normal crying patterns — All infants cry more during the first three months of life than during any other time.

How do you break an overtired baby? ›

Start by implementing a really early bedtime sleep routine, if only to reset your baby's sleep patterns. Limit his wake time even shorter so that he catches up on lost sleep. Hold him if need be, or use baby gear like swings and wraps to get him to nap longer.

Will an overtired baby scream for hours? ›

Signs of Overtired Babies

Sometimes babies stop doing everything including crying and simply yawn to indicate their parents, they're in need of some sound sleep. Being Fussy and Screaming – Overtired babies usually tend to cry continuously and become extremely clingy.

What is the longest you should let a baby cry it out? ›

Your baby's intervals of crying should be no longer than 10 minutes. And with the bedtime fading technique, you put your baby to bed a little later each night, shifting bedtime back by 10 to 15 minutes, until your little one is tired enough to fall asleep on their own, even with a bit of crying.

Should I take my baby to the hospital if he wont stop crying? ›

Your baby is inconsolable. If your baby is younger than 5 months old and cries for more than three hours in a row, it's time to see a doctor. If the level of crying sounds like hysteria, and you would describe it as inconsolable with no times of stopping, then perhaps it's time to go to the ER.

What happens if baby cries continuously? ›

There are a number of reasons, other than colic, that an infant may cry excessively; these can range from simple problems such as hunger to more serious problems such as infection. A parent should first check for manageable causes of crying: Hunger – Try feeding the baby to see whether hunger is the problem.

How do I get my colic baby to sleep? ›

Colicky babies tend to settle better if their crib is elevated to 30 degrees or if they're kept semi-upright and swaddled / wrapped. Feeding your colicky baby after naps rather than before will reduce the chances of any tummy upsets at sleep time.

Why do colic babies cry so much? ›

It may be due to digestion problems or a sensitivity to something in the baby's formula or that a nursing mom is eating. Or it might be from a baby trying to get used to the sights and sounds of being out in the world. Some colicky babies also have gas because they swallow so much air while crying.

What age is Colic Calm for? ›

At what age can my baby start taking Colic Calm? Colic, gas and reflux usually become evident in babies from as early as two weeks of age. Most parents of two-week-olds have found it best to start with just a few drops, gradually adding more if needed (not to exceed the recommended dose).

What age does colic ease? ›

Colic usually starts when a baby is a few weeks old – and stops when they're around 4 to 6 months of age. If your otherwise healthy baby cries inconsolably for 3 or more hours a day, at least 3 days per week (and it's been happening for 3 weeks or more) – it could be caused by colic.

What sound makes baby stop crying? ›

White noise: White noise is a great way to calm a crying baby because low rumbly whooshing sounds are reminiscent of the sounds babies heard in the womb. Singing: Regardless of whether you're off-key or pitch-perfect, your baby loves the sound of your voice.

What can make colic worse? ›

Possible Causes of Colic
  • Pain from gas.
  • Hunger.
  • Overfeeding.
  • Baby cannot tolerate certain foods or certain proteins in breast milk or formula.
  • Sensitivity to certain stimuli.
  • Emotions such as fear, frustration, or even excitement.
Aug 10, 2021

What position should a colic baby sleep in? ›

Shift Positions

Parents tend to cradle a colicky baby face-up, but that may not help. Instead, hold their face down -- with your hand under their belly and their head on your forearm. The pressure on their tummy can help relieve uncomfortable gas.

Can colic go away quickly? ›

Summary. Infant colic is regular, unexplained crying fits that usually last for at least three hours. The cause is unknown, but theories include immaturity of the bowel, food allergies and 'gas' or 'wind'. Colic tends to go away without treatment after a few weeks.

Can anything help colic? ›

Holding your baby

Babies who have colic can sometimes respond well to different ways of being held or rocked. Hold your baby across your arm or lap while you massage their back. Hold your baby upright, if they have gas. Hold your baby in the evening.

Can a mom's anxiety cause baby colic? ›

Analyses of effect modification showed that high education seemed to protect from the influence of high trait anxiety. Young women were particularly high in trait anxiety, and being exposed to both these risk factors seemed to act synergistically on the risk of having a colicky infant; OR 2.41 (1.12, 5.18).

What should mom with colicky baby avoid eating? ›

Diet, Breastfeeding, and Colic
  • Garlic, onions, cabbage, turnips, broccoli, and beans.
  • Apricots, rhubarb, prunes, melons, peaches, and other fresh fruits.
  • Cow's milk.
  • Caffeine.

Can my breastmilk make my baby colic? ›

Colic may also be caused by an overabundance of breastmilk. Your baby could be consuming too much foremilk if you have an abundance of milk. The thinner milk that flows from the breast at the start of a feeding is known as foremilk. It has a higher lactose, or milk sugar, content.

What are the signs of a baby having colic? ›

What's Normal Crying and What's Colic?
  • Cry for what seems like no reason -- even when they don't need to eat or have their diaper changed.
  • Start to cry in the evening, or at the same time every day.
  • Cry for 3 or more hours each day, more than 3 days a week, for at least 3 weeks.
May 31, 2021

Does gripe water stop crying? ›

Gripe water for newborns and babies is thought to help relieve stomach discomfort, make it easier for babies to pass gas, possibly battle constipation and encourage bowel movements and even potentially soothe colic (or excessive crying), Woods says.

Do gas drops help with colic? ›

As in your case, gas drops may be useful for infant fussiness. To date, though, research studies have not found simethicone to be very effective at relieving infant colic.

What time of day is colic worse? ›

A baby with colic will often go through their most intense crying spells between 6:00 p.m. and midnight. Of course, that's usually just when you as a parent are also feeling worn out.

How can you tell the difference between colic and normal crying? ›

Colicky crying is louder, more high-pitched, and more urgent sounding than regular crying. Colicky babies can be very hard to calm down. Babies who have colic may show symptoms such as: Burping often or passing a lot of gas.

How can I help my screaming baby with gas? ›

Gently massage your baby, pump their legs back and forth (like riding a bike) while they are on their back, or give their tummy time (watch them while they lie on their stomach). A warm bath can also help them get rid of extra gas.

How long should you let a tired baby cry? ›

You start with letting your little one cry for just a few minutes before briefly checking on them. As the night goes on, you gradually increase those response times until your baby falls asleep independently. Your baby's intervals of crying should be no longer than 10 minutes.

What does an overtired baby cry sound like? ›

Late signs of fatigue

The “I'm tired” cry often has a cough-like sound in it. It may sound a bit like this: “wah, wah, WAH – cough – WAH – cough – WAAAAAAH!” Late signs also include furiously rubbing the face/eyes/noise. 40-60 minutes, or awake the duration of their last nap.

How long is too long crying baby? ›


Many parents begin to pause before responding, or allow children to cry during bedtime without running to their sides around this age to teach children to sleep on their own. Even using this method, many suggest that babies should not be allowed to cry for more than 10 minutes without your attention.

Why does an overtired baby fight sleep? ›

When your baby becomes overtired, their stress response system goes into high gear, triggering cortisol and adrenaline to flood into their little bodies. Cortisol helps to regulate the body's sleep-wake cycle; adrenaline is the fight-or-flight agent.

How do you get a crying tired baby to sleep? ›

Try lots of reassurance : 1) Talk quietly and cuddle your baby until calm 2) Put your baby on their back in the cot awake (drowsy) 3) Comfort your baby with gentle 'ssshh' sounds, gentle rhythmic patting, rocking or stroking until baby is calm or asleep.

What is purple crying period? ›

Period of PURPLE Crying is a research-based education program developed by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. Program materials include a booklet with app or DVD (available in mulitple languages), a 10-minute video on crying and a 17-minute video on soothing.

Is 20 minutes too long for baby to cry? ›

Weissbluth's method

In this method, Marc Weissbluth, MD, explains that babies may still wake up to two times a night at 8 months old. However, he says parents should start predictable bedtime routines — letting babies cry 10 to 20 minutes to sleep —- with infants as young as 5 to 6 weeks of age.

When should I take my baby to the ER for crying? ›

Your baby is inconsolable. If your baby is younger than 5 months old and cries for more than three hours in a row, it's time to see a doctor. If the level of crying sounds like hysteria, and you would describe it as inconsolable with no times of stopping, then perhaps it's time to go to the ER.


1. Overtired Newborn Baby: Signs & How to get an Overtired Baby to Sleep
(Helping Babies Sleep)
2. Instantly Calm a Crying Baby (4 Little-Known Techniques That Work When Nothing Else Does)
(Emma Hubbard)
3. Colic In Babies - Why Does it Happen & How To Cope
4. 5 Ways to Soothe a Newborn by Mimicking Your Womb + Reasons why Your Baby won't Stop Crying
(Bridget Teyler)
5. The Colic Hold: How to Hold and Calm a Crying or Gassy Baby
(Maui Breastfeeding Support)
6. HOW TO HELP COLIC? | what worked for my baby
(Rhi Simmonds)


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