The Agony of Colic: What New Parents Need to Know


As parents, we understand that the physical and emotional wellbeing of our babies is very important. But sometimes, our babies suffer from certain conditions that can be hard to deal with, such as colic. Colic is a common problem in babies, and it can affect the entire family. It is important to understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for colic in order to provide the best care for your baby. In this article, we'll be looking at some of the key things you need to know about colic in babies. We'll discuss what colic is, the causes of colic, the symptoms of colic, different treatment options, and more. By understanding more about colic, you can make sure you provide the best care and comfort for your baby.

What is Colic?

Colic is a common condition in infants that is characterized by prolonged periods of intense crying and fussiness throughout the day. It affects an estimated 10-40% of all babies, typically starting in the first few weeks of life. While it is a normal and healthy part of infant development, it can be difficult for parents and caregivers to manage.

Colic is not a medical condition and does not cause any physical harm to the baby. However, it can be concerning for parents who want to know the cause of their baby’s distress. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatments for colic can help parents to better handle the situation.

The cause of colic remains unclear; however, many experts believe it is related to the baby’s immature digestive system and immature nervous system. Other theories suggest that colic could be caused by feeding issues, allergic reactions, or even a baby’s environment.

The most common symptoms of colic include intense crying or fussiness that typically begins in the late afternoon or evening. Babies may cry harder and for longer periods than usual, and their faces may become flushed or scrunched up in discomfort. While colic typically lasts for 3 to 4 hours at a time, it can last up to several hours.

Fortunately, there are many strategies that can help manage colic. Some of the most common treatments include using a pacifier, paced bottle-feeding, swaddling, and gentle soothing techniques. If you suspect your baby may be suffering from colic, it is important to speak to your pediatrician for further advice.

Causes of Colic

Colic is a condition that is common to newborns and babies and is characterised by unexplained bouts of inconsolable crying and fussiness. The cause of colic can be difficult to pinpoint, but there are a few potential factors that could be contributing to the problem.

One likely cause is the baby’s immature digestive system. The baby’s stomach and intestines are not yet fully developed, leading to difficulty digesting and breaking down food. In turn, this can lead to gas and other discomforts that manifests in the form of fussiness and crying.

Another possible cause of colic is the baby’s environment. Babies are especially sensitive to their surroundings, and any changes to the baby’s environment, such as temperature, lighting, or noise level, can be enough to cause disruption. Newborns and babies may also have difficulty sleeping or have trouble regulating their sleep cycles, leading to general fussiness.

Lactose intolerance is another potential cause of colic. Babies who are lactose intolerant have difficulty digesting the lactose in milk and other dairy products, leading to discomfort and fussiness. In some cases, mothers may need to switch the type of milk and formula they are providing their baby.

In some cases, colic may be caused by an infection, such as a virus or bacterial infection. If a baby has a persistent and ongoing case of colic, parents should talk to their doctor about the possibility of infection and rule out any underlying health concerns.

Overall, the cause of colic can be difficult to pinpoint and varies from baby to baby. However, there are a few common potential triggers that parents should consider, such as digestive issues, a change in environment, lactose intolerance, and infection.


Symptoms of Colic

Colic is a common phenomenon among babies, and luckily, it usually dissipates within the first three months of age without intervention. While colic is rarely a sign of a serious health concern, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms so you can help provide relief for your little one.

The most common symptoms of colic include: excessive crying, fussiness and irritability, clenched fists, red face, and legs pulled up to their chest. Crying associated with colic will usually manifest as a prolonged, intense bout of cry sessions. It may seem as if nothing can soothe or comfort your baby during these episodes. Furthermore, colicky crying is often louder and more persistent than normal crying. During episodes, your baby may also appear incredibly frustrated as his/her face turns red and fists get clenched. Additionally, your baby may draw up their legs and clutch onto their stomach, seemingly in pain.

These symptoms usually develop in the late afternoon and may persist through the night. While they can certainly be alarming, they are usually nothing more than a sign of colic. If your baby is exhibiting these symptoms, it’s important to consult your pediatrician to ensure there are no underlying health conditions or complications.

Treatment Options

Colic Medication

Colic medicines are not generally recommended as a first line of treatment. In some cases, over-the-counter (OTC) medications may be used to reduce symptoms, but they should always be used with caution, as they could potentially cause side effects. Parents should consult with their pediatrician before deciding if and when to use OTC medications.

Prescription medications may be used if OTC medications do not effectively reduce symptoms. These medications should only be used under the advisement of a doctor. Other potential remedies, such as probiotics, may also be prescribed to reduce the symptoms of colic. However, more research is needed to determine the full effectiveness of these treatments.

Dietary Changes

When a baby is suffering from colic, one possible way to treat the situation is to make changes to the mother's diet. Though research is inconclusive, some studies have found links between colic and certain foods consumed by the mother. If colic is suspected, a doctor may recommend avoiding certain foods that may cause the baby distress, such as dairy and caffeine. Additionally, probiotics may be recommended as a natural way to reduce colic. However, it is important to consult a doctor before making any dietary changes, as they can ensure that the baby is receiving the proper nutrition.

Comfort Measures

Caring for a baby with colic can be an emotionally demanding experience. To help ease the discomfort of colic and make the baby feel better, there are a few comfort measures that can be taken.

Firstly, swaddling is a safe and effective way to reduce crying in babies. Wrap the baby in a light blanket, making sure the baby’s arms are securely tucked in, so that the baby’s startle reflex is reduced. Additionally, it is important to make sure the baby is neither too hot nor too cold.

Additionally, it may be beneficial to hold the baby close and provide rhythmic motion, such as rocking or swinging, or to place the baby in a vibrating seat. White noise can also be helpful; the continuous noise can help the baby feel soothed and may reduce crying.

Finally, ensure that the baby’s basic needs are met; this might include providing adequate nutrition, changing diapers quickly, and providing adequate sleep. It is important to remain patient and take comfort in knowing that the colic phase is temporary.

Clinical Treatments

In addition to traditional home remedies, certain clinical treatments may be used to provide relief for babies experiencing colic. Depending on the severity of the colic and the individual baby, a pediatrician may prescribe antispasmodic or antidiarrheal medications, or even probiotics.

In some cases, alternative treatments such as chiropractic adjustment, massage, and acupuncture may offer relief. It is important to consult a healthcare professional before administering any of these treatments to ensure that they are safe and effective.


In conclusion, Colic is a common problem in babies and can be very distressing for parents. Colic is thought to be caused by a combination of factors, such as immature digestive systems, low birth weight, and difficulties adjusting to life outside the womb. Symptoms of colic can include excessive crying, irritability, and difficulty sleeping. There are several things parents can do to help soothe a baby with colic, such as dietary changes, comfort measures, and clinical treatments. Additionally, there are a few medications which may be prescribed in severe cases. While colic can be very difficult to deal with, parents can take comfort in the knowledge that it usually resolves itself by the time the baby is four months old.