Colic – And All About It

6 min read

Colic in newborn babies
How helpless you feel when you find your little baby crying for hours? Annoyance and anger may surround you and you might become irritated towards the crying baby.
Hey, wait! Don’t harbor resentment; your baby is having colic.

My Baby Cries All The Time. Is It Colic?

Crying is common to all new-borns but if a baby cries for 3 or more hours a day and this occurs 4 to 5 times a week, then it is likely that he/she is having colic. Colic is defined as ‘an attack or episode of crying appearing as abdominal pain in early infancy’. Colic is observed in babies after 2 weeks of birth (the same way for premature babies but 2 weeks after the due date). About 8%-40% of all babies (yes, that is true) have colic, and it goes off on its own by the time the baby is about 3-4 months old. This condition is very common in babies and usually affects them in first few months after birth. Besides colic, babies might cry due to nappy rash, hunger, tiredness, cold or heat. The exact cause of colic is largely unknown, and there are plenty of conflicting theories abound.

Facts About Colic

Colic is not dependent on the order in which a baby is born, and neither is gender specific. Colic has been observed equally between breast fed and formula fed babies, though colic is more likely to occur in babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy. There is no such thing as guaranteed cures for all babies – beware of such products.

  1. Colic is observed in well fed babies who have good appetite
  2. Colicky babies have a good sucking reflux
  3. Their stools are normal, just like other babies
  4. Colic is episodic in nature, and will go on its own
  5. Treatment is generally not needed, but it would be wise to take your baby to a pediatrician so that other possible medical causes can be ruled out

Soothing colicky baby

What Are The Common Symptoms Of Colic Observed In Babies?

Seeing its frequent occurrence in babies, it becomes all the more important to know more about colic. Please note that colic is not a disease and will not cause your baby any undue harm, but it can be a difficult situation to cope up with for both the baby and the parents. You will observe that your baby starts to fuss generally after feeding, and most likely at the same time everyday. Babies resort to colic during late afternoons and evenings. Here are the common symptoms that will help you figure out whether the baby is having colic or not.

  1. Excessive Intense Crying: If a healthy and well fed baby cries furiously with his face becoming flushed and red, the chances are that the baby is having colic. You will also notice that the crying spells are louder, continuous and last for about 1 to 3 hours
  2. Posture: A colicky baby has clenched fists, tense abdominal muscles and arched back. The feet will often be cold, legs will be alternately stretched or pulled. The baby might pass wind during colic attack, and he will appear gassy because he will end up swallowing air as well

What Are The Causes Of Colic In Babies?

Colic largely remains an unsolved mystery, and doctors have not yet been able to point out what exactly causes a baby to cry so much. However pediatricians are of the opinion that mostly indigestion or wind may be responsible for pain or discomfort in abdomen. Some causes of colic in babies are enlisted below:
Calming a colicky baby

  • Lactose intolerance from baby formulas and milk allergies can manifest colic-like symptoms
  • Baby’s growing digestive system can have muscular spasm which can also cause colic
  • If the milk is flowing in the windpipe, causing heartburn, then baby could be colicky
  • According to some theories a baby’s temperament is also responsible for colic. Some newborns take a little long to adjust to the outside world, while some of them might have undiagnosed GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • An important thing to note is that colic is common in the babies of females who smoke during pregnancy
  • Some hormones when released can make a baby moody, and this can also cause colic
  • Colic can be due to over-stimulation or over-sensitivity caused by noise or light. By the time evening comes, babies start to cry as they become distraught
  • Developing nervous system can also cause colic

Seeing The Pediatrician For Colic

Doctor checking baby
If your baby is crying frequently, it is better to visit a pediatrician and get a thorough medical checkup done. This will help you rule out other probable reasons such as:

  • Presence of any infection in urinary tract or ear infection
  • Stomach problems
  • Acid reflux
  • Any injury to fingers, muscles or bones
  • Any eye problem like raised pressure or presence of any scratch

If your baby has developed fever, is vomiting or passing stools with blood, approach the doctor immediately. These symptoms are not due to colic and need immediate medical attention.

How to Calm a Colicky Baby?

Since you do not know what is causing the colic here are listed few calming methods that you can follow while dealing with a colicky baby. Because it is not knows what is upsetting the baby, you will have to try different methods and then find the best pick. Though you will be feeling like joining in the crying, try to remain positive and calm during colic episodes.

    1. If your baby is having top feed, change the milk formula. Soy milk formula might be better than cow’s milk as some babies find it hard to digest cow milk’s proteins
    2. Never overfeed the baby in an attempt to calm him- this is not recommended
    3. You can give hypoallergic pre-digested milk formula instead of the regular one. This should be done only if medically recommended
    4. Sometimes, breast feeding mothers are advised not to consume caffeine, milk and vegetables like eggplant, colocasia, potatoes, peas, etc. that can produce gas. To see the effect, you will have to eliminate these items for a couple of days
    5. Remember to change the nipples of baby’s feeding bottles every month. Ensure the proper hygiene while cleaning and handling feeders
    6. You should often burp your tiny baby to prevent him/her from swallowing air while feedings. Read about burping a baby here

Colicky Baby

  1. Keep the baby upright if he/she is spitting milk
  2. Spend more time with your baby as it helps to calm the senses of your little bundle of joy
  3. Use a front baby carrier bag and swaddle the baby well. Read about swaddling a baby here
  4. You can lift the mood of your baby by taking for a ride in car or take him/her in a pram to a nearby park
  5. Use of dummy pacifier is also helpful in calming down the baby
  6. Give a gentle massage or a warm bath to soothe the crying baby. Know more on massaging a baby here
  7. Try changing the environment – low sounds and less light might help
  8. You can try putting a warm bottle on your baby’s tummy
  9. Ensure that the baby is not fatigued and resting a plentiful

Medical Advice For Colic

Medicines should only be given after seeking the advice of a pediatrician. Never opt for OTC drugs or any other medication on your own.

  • Simethicone Drops:Simethicone drops can be given as it helps in expelling trapped air from the gastrointestinal tract. Simethicone is a potent anti-foaming agent. It accumulates the tiny bubbles of air and clumps them in bigger bubbles. The big bubbles can be easily released by passing wind.
    Usually 2.5 ml of simethicone drop is given to the baby after every feed
  • Lactase Drops:Lactase drops contain lactase enzyme that is responsible for breaking complex milk sugar lactose into glucose and galactose. People having deficiency of lactase enzyme in the gut usually develop pain, discomfort and diarrhea after consuming milk and milk products.
    It is seen that lactase drops help in reducing abdominal discomfort in colicky babies

Can Gripe Water Help A Colicky Baby To Calm Down?

Giving gripe water to a baby has been advised by many parents, though scientifically it has not been proved that gripe water helps calm down a colicky baby. You can read more on giving gripe water to babies here

Colic Guidelines

Do not give dicycloverine or dicyclomine to your baby as it can cause breathing difficulties and seizures. Some people use herbal teas like anise start tea for treating colic in babies. Strictly refrain from doing so because some varieties of this tea are toxic and can prove fatal for your baby. Be patient with your crying baby as he/she is helpless and cannot express the torment he/she is experiencing. Do not lose temper and become panicky instead try to understand the probable cause of the pain. Do not hesitate in visiting the doctor if your baby is crying for hours and hours.
After all you are responsible for your baby. Aren’t you?

Responses (1)

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Jul 17, 2014

My baby cries almost almost any first i used to think i m wrong somewhere



Jul 17, 2014

My baby cries almost almost any first i used to think i m wrong somewhere

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