colic in babies

Colic in Babies – Causes & How to treat it?

Picture of Surabhi Agrawal

Surabhi Agrawal

Every baby goes through an unexplained upset period at some time during the day, usually starting as early as 2 weeks old.

However, when a baby’s normal fussiness develops into excessive periods of crying that won’t stop, it may become a sign of distress.

Excessive crying may be due to the infant having colic, which is a typical cause of crying in infants. If your baby’s cry lasts for more than 3 hours a day then your baby is a colicky baby.

What is Colic, and what causes it? Find out about colic, why your baby has it, how to comfort him if he has it, how to find the difference between normal and colic crying, and some frequently asked questions that will help you with your baby’s colic. - Colicky Babies – Colicky Babies

What Is the Difference Between Normal and Colicky Crying?

Your baby may cry for a variety of reasons, including hunger or tiredness, or because she has a moist diaper. When your baby has been fed, held, or changed her diaper, she will stop crying.

If your baby is crying for no apparent reason and keeps on crying even after you’ve checked her diaper, fed her, and comforted her as best as possible, she might have colic.

This is what sets normal crying apart from colicky crying. With normal crying, your baby will react to comfort techniques and eventually quiet down; with colic, he or she may constantly be crying and cannot be consoled.

What Is the Definition of Colic?

One of the most common questions young parents ask is “What is Colic?” So, Let’s answer it first.

The term colic is used to describe a child’s condition which causes them to exhibit discomfort and pain. They may also be grumpy and irritable. The cause of this discomfort, however, remains unknown.

In the strictest clinical definition, it is a child who cries for more than three hours at a stretch without having been seen to have any other illness.

Since this is not practical, in common usage, any baby who cries excessively for an unexplained reason can be said to have Colic.

What Causes Colic?

What Causes Colic in babies is unknown, but there are many theories that attempt to explain it.

For example: –

– Some experts believe that colic is caused by gas or air in the baby’s intestines. This can be caused by the baby swallowing too much air when they are feeding, or by certain foods to which they may be intolerant.

– Others believe that it may be due to a problem with the baby’s nervous system.

– It could also be due to an imbalance in the baby’s gut bacteria.

– Some babies may be more prone to colic because of their temperament.

What are the Symptoms of Colic?

The main symptom of colic is excessive crying, which can go on for hours at a stretch. The baby may also be restless and hard to soothe.

They may have a distended stomach, and they may pass gas or have diarrhea.

How Long Does Colic Typically Last?

Colic usually starts when a baby is between two and three weeks old. It typically lasts until the baby is about four months old.

How can we Prevent Colic?

There is no way to prevent colic at this time, but there are some changes that can be made to reduce the chances of a baby developing colic.

These include:

– Burping the baby frequently during and after feeds.

– Trying different positions when feeding, such as lying the baby on their back or stomach.

– Giving the baby plenty of time to relax and calm down between periods of crying.

– Offering comfort and reassurance to the baby.

Comforting Your Baby

If your baby has colic, it is important to learn how to comfort them.

This may include holding the baby in your arms, speaking softly and gently stroking their back or belly. If your baby’s colic is very severe, you may need to hold them constantly during the day and night until it gets better. - Comforting a Baby helps soothe colic in a baby – Comforting a Baby helps soothe colic in a baby

Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to treat colic will vary from baby to baby.

However, some measures that may be helpful include: –

– Burping the baby frequently during and after feeds.

– Trying different positions when feeding, such as lying the baby on their back or stomach.

– Giving the baby plenty of time to relax and calm down between periods of crying.

– Offering comfort and reassurance to the baby.

– If the baby is Formula Fed: switch to a hypoallergenic formula.

– If the baby is Breastfed: waiting until baby finishes feeding to burp; trying different positions when breastfeeding (such as lying down); changing the baby’s diaper immediately after they finish breastfeeding; not stimulating the nipples with fingers or a bottle before breastfeeding; sitting up while breastfeeding, and supporting your breast.

– If the baby is Formula Fed: trying different formulas; stopping all solids and giving them only formula for a period of time; changing the water used to make the formula.

– Some experts believe that colic is often caused by an intolerance to certain ingredients in the standard baby formula (e.g., cow’s milk).

– It may be worth trying a formula that is based on hydrolyzed proteins or soy.

– If the baby has recently been introduced to solids, you may want to stop giving them solids for a while and see if that makes a difference.

– If the baby cries mostly during the evening hours, you may want to try putting them down for a nap during the day.

– If the baby cries mostly after feeds, you may want to try giving them smaller, more frequent feeds.

– If the baby has a fever, see a doctor.

Gripe water and Colic

Most Colic drops are available over the counter and are often effective in calming a colicky baby.

Gripe water is a remedy for babies that is available without a prescription. It can be beneficial in reducing the discomfort associated with colic, but it does not provide any long-term relief.

Gripe water contains herbs, such as fennel and ginger, which can be effective in reducing a baby’s discomfort.

Gripe water will not treat the cause of colic, but it can potentially reduce the symptoms.

Read more about Gripe Water – is it safe for Babies and when to give it to Newborns?

Frequently Asked Questions about Colicky Babies

  • How long does colic last?

    Colic lasts until the age of three months. If your baby is over three months and still has colic, please go for a check-up to rule out any other problems.
  • What are some home remedies for colic?

    If your baby has colic, here are some home remedies that have been found to be effective in relieving colic symptoms :

-Walking your baby or taking them for a drive in a car
-Gently rocking your baby
-Placing them in a swing
-Burping them regularly
-Giving them gripe water or over-the-counter colic medications as per doctor advice
-Putting them on their side to sleep
-Putting them in a humidifier room

  • How do I know if my baby has colic?

    The common symptoms of colic in babies include:

-Frequent and prolonged bouts of crying that are unrelated to any obvious stimuli
-Crying for more than three hours a day, more than three days a week, and for more than three weeks
-The baby’s abdomen appears to be swollen or bloated
-The baby has a poor appetite and difficulty sleeping
-Some babies may also have constipation, diarrhea, or excessive gas.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your baby, please consult a doctor.

  • How do you soothe a colicky baby?

The key is to be patient and consistent with your baby. Try some of the home remedies listed above, and if they do not seem to be working, go for a check-up with your paediatrician.
The doctor may prescribe medications or other treatments to help soothe your baby.

  • How do I know if my baby has gas or colic?

One of the first things you will notice about an infant with gas is that she cries. It may be a high-pitched cry and your baby might extend her legs or bring them up to her stomach while crying. Her face may turn red or she might get a sour look on her face. Sometimes, babies with gas pain grunt. Your baby might arch her back, which is an indication of severe pain.

If your baby has colic, she will cry inconsolably for hours at a time, sometimes several times a day. Her stomach may be bloated and she may have trouble sleeping. Her bowel movements might also be irregular.

Final Note

Colic is a common cause of excessive crying in infants. While the cause of colic is unknown, there are several ways to treat it.

Some babies respond to changes in diet, such as avoiding dairy products. Others may need medication to help them digest food better. Sometimes, probiotics can help to relieve the pain caused by gas and colic.

With time, most babies grow out of their colicky period without needing medical intervention.

It’s easy to become frustrated or upset when your baby is crying, but keep in mind that you’re doing a fantastic job as a parent. Soon enough, this colicky phase will pass, and you can get through this.

My baby had colic that lasted for 6 months and I would be awake most nights. But remember, this will pass too.

Just relax, map your sleep times with your baby, build a good support system with your family so that you can sleep while others play/feed your baby.

If you are alone, make sure you take a walk in the evening to get some fresh air with your baby in a stroller. Call your friend or join a parenting group to share your experience, you will find many parents who will share their remedies.

I have tried to cover all the basics you need to know about colicky babies, including what causes it and how to comfort your baby if he or she does have it. Please do make sure to consult your doctor before you start any new treatment.

Do write to me for any other information or if you simply want to share your experience, I personally respond to all comments and emails.


Colic in Babies – Causes & How to treat it
Colic in Babies – Causes & How to treat it

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