Colic: Everything You Need To Know

Colic affects about 20 percent of babies, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. A colicky baby will normally be very fussy and have trouble sleeping, which will also frequently keep you from getting the rest you need. Although doctors aren’t quite sure what causes colic, they do have some theories. Based on those assumptions, there are things you can do to help ease your baby’s colic symptoms.


What is colic?

Colic is a condition that results in a baby crying for three or more hours, and usually lasting for days or weeks at a time. A colicky baby will cry like this at least three days a week. Babies tend to grow out of colic between 3- and 6-months-old.

What are the symptoms of colic?

All babies cry — in fact, it’s normal for infants to cry for up to two hours a day. However, a baby that is colicky will:

  • Often cry for no reason
  • Start crying at the same time every day
  • Make sounds that are higher-pitched than normal when crying
  • Be very difficult to soothe
  • Clench her fists while crying
  • Have a bloated belly while crying
  • Pass gas while crying
  • Bend his arms and legs towards his tummy

Doctors normally diagnose babies based on their symptoms, so it can be helpful to write down when your baby cries and for how long as well as what, if anything, soothes your baby. You may also want to record anything that makes your baby fussy and how their poop appears. If it’s hard, your baby may be constipated, which can cause stomach pain. Baby poop that’s white, gray, or consistently black (or red) in color can signal health problems. If you notice anything concerning about your baby’s poop, be sure to call your child’s pediatrician right away.

What causes it?

Doctors don’t know what causes colic for sure, however, the most common theories are related to the digestive system. As the baby’s digestive system grows, the child might experience bouts of gas, abdominal pain, and muscle spasms caused by hormones. Colic might also be caused by sensitivity to light and noise.

How long does colic last?

Though colic tends to start at around 6 weeks of age, the vast majority of cases subside by the age of 4 months. So hang in there! Colic doesn’t last forever.

How can you treat a colicky baby?

Since doctors aren’t sure what actually causes colic, there isn’t one surefire treatment. Sometimes colic just has to run its course. But you may be able to help your colicky baby by trying these things:

1. Stay calm. Yes, is tough when a baby is crying.

2. Comfort her as well as you can. Trying rocking him, walking around with him — anything that you think may soothe your colicky baby.

3. Give her gas drops, if she seems gassy.  Consult your pediatrician about the best drops for your baby, as well as recommended dosage.

4. Try gripe water. Gripe water doesn’t have long-term studies backing it up, but many parents swear by it, and some doctors state that it can be helpful. Gripe water is a mix of water and herbs, and there are a variety of organic and all-natural options.

A colicky baby can be a real challenge, but the problem is easy to diagnose. The problem usually goes away on its own as the baby’s digestive system matures, and so you shouldn’t have to worry about any long-term issues. Just be patient and be strong!

Photo: Getty