What Are Signs Of Colic In Newborns

Causes Of Colic In Babies

Signs of a Colic Baby & Ways to Soothe Naturally!

No scientific evidence has proven beyond doubt the causes of colic in babies, and why some babies get it, and others dont however, numerous theories have been investigated to try and uncover the cause of this condition. Included among these are the following:

  • Immature gastrointestinal tract

At this stage in life, the babys digestive tract is considered to be adapting to the new food, be it the mothers milk or formula. This may lead to indigestion, pain, and gas that makes the child uncomfortable.

Some researchers believe that the babies digestive system is suffering from a misbalance of probiotic the good bacteria that assist in digestion and improves overall gut health.

  • Food allergies

This theory revolves around sensitivity to formula milk and foods the mother eats that pass to the baby via breast milk. These allergies may lead to pain in the abdomen, and the baby cries as a result of this.

  • GERD

Acid reflux from the stomach is the basis of this theory.

It is presumed that at this stage, the esophageal sphincter is immature and unable to contain the stomach contents. This results in irritation that can cause the baby to spit and vomit after feeding.

  • Immature nervous system

According to this theory, babies who suffer colic may be reacting and adapting to their new environment. The baby is unable to cope with the stimuli overload, so they cry. Another theory supports the opposite view, this being that colicky babies cry as a result of under-stimulation.

  • Parental anxiety

When Should One Seek Medical Care For Colic

The diagnosis of colic is made by the characteristic history detailed above complemented by normal findings during a physical exam. By definition, colic is what is termed as a “diagnosis of exclusion,” for example, all other pathologic conditions have been eliminated. Other conditions your doctor will consider may include infection, gastroesophageal reflux , milk protein allergy, and a number of relatively rare metabolic and intestinal conditions.

If the baby’s symptoms suggest other causes, such as fever, excessive sleepiness, recurring vomiting, and out of the ordinary inconsolability, you should seek medical attention. You should also see a doctor if the excessive crying causes you or other family members extreme frustration and anger. A screaming infant, sleep deprivation, and the transition from pregnant to nonpregnant health status can easily wear down even the most loving of parents.

Colic in itself is not a medical emergency. However, if you suspect other conditions may be causing irritability and pain in your infant, go immediately to a hospital’s emergency department.


There are no surefire treatments, but you may try the following:

  • Use a pacifier. Swaddle your infant tightly.
  • Gently rock the infant using a rocking chair or lap.
  • Softly massage the infant’s abdomen or back.
  • Play relaxing music . Studies have shown, however, that excessive limiting of stimulation may worsen symptoms.

How Is Colic Treated

There are many tips for helping to soothe and deal with a colicky baby. Know that this is a common problem for new babies. Talk with your child’s healthcare provider to find out more about colic and what you can do.

If your baby is bottle-fed, it may help to use a curved bottle. This lets you hold your baby in an upright position.

To reduce the amount of air your baby swallows during feeding, burp your baby often. Using a bottle with a collapsible bag or liner may also help.

Learning how to understand your baby’s cry can help in dealing with colic. It takes some time for parents and babies to get used to each other. Also remember that its normal for babies to cry for a certain amount of time every day.

What works for one baby may not work for another. Other suggestions to try include:

If your baby is bottle-fed and these methods dont work, your childs healthcare provider may recommend a 1-week trial of a non-milk-based formula.

If you breastfeed your baby, the provider may suggest that you avoid foods that are likely to cause an allergic reaction. This means that you should not have milk, eggs, nuts, or wheat for a period of time.

Dealing with a colicky baby is stressful. It may help to let someone care for your baby from time to time. Ask an adult family member, friend, or a responsible babysitter. Its important to take a break. Taking care of yourself and reducing your stress level may help your baby as well.

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Mother’s Diet And Breast Milk

The cause of colic may not be known, but many things are thought to contribute to the condition, including the maternal diet.

The foods that you eat make their way to your baby through your breast milk. Some babies can have a reaction or an allergy to certain substances. Cows milk and dairy products are the most common offenders, and they can cause digestive problems leading to colic or colic-like symptoms.

You can try to remove dairy products from your diet to see if the colic improves. Other possible foods that your baby may react to are nuts, soy, eggs, caffeine, garlic, spicy foods, and shellfish.

Be patient as you eliminate items from your diet. It can take over a week to see results. Ask your doctor about probiotics, as well. Research on the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri shows that it may help reduce colic in breastfed infants.

You do not need to stop nursing. Breastfeeding is not a cause of colic, and babies who take infant formula get colic, too. Switching to formula may not help and may even make the situation worse.

Coping With A Colicky Baby

What is colic?

Colic may be more harmful to worried and frustrated parents than it is to babies. A colicky baby cries for more than three hours a day more than three days a week.

As many as one in 20 babies have colic at some point during their early infancy. It’s important to remember, however, that no matter how hard it may be to cope with a constantly crying baby, colic is a harmless condition as long as a medical condition has been ruled out by your pediatrician.

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Crying For More Than Three Hours A Day

The first symptom is inconsolable, crying for more than three hours a day. It is usual for a child to start crying when hungry or wet or sleepy. However, the crying stops once the needs of the child are met.

Colicky children tend to cry continuously for no good reason. Parents can try to calm down the child, but it doesnt work. The prolonged crying happens three or more days per week for at least three consecutive weeks.

Things That Probably Wont Work With Colic

Medications and mixturesOver-the-counter colic mixtures from pharmacies have no scientific basis. These mixtures arent recommended as a way to deal with colic because they dont work and/or havent been thoroughly tested in young babies.

And although many babies who have colic also have reflux symptoms, theres no evidence that reflux medication reduces crying and fussing.

Doctors dont recommend naturopathic or homeopathic medications to treat colic, because theres no evidence to say they work or are safe for young babies.

Chiropractic treatmentChiropractic treatment doesnt help with colic, and spinal manipulation can be dangerous for young babies.

Changes to mothers dietIf youre a breastfeeding mother, changing your diet is unlikely to reduce crying unless your baby is diagnosed with an allergy to something in your diet for example, cows milk, egg and soy.

If allergy is the cause of your babys excessive crying or colic, your baby will usually have other red flags in addition to colic. These red flags include:

  • diarrhoea, especially with mucus or blood
  • poor weight gain

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Adjust What Mommy Is Eating

Colic In Newborns | CloudMom

Other less popular options include watching what you eat and changing the infants formula when you notice discomfort. Your current diet could be causing gas for both you and your baby when breastfeeding.

What you eat affects a baby when he or she is breastfeeding. Lactose intolerant babies can thrive on lactose-free baby formulas and experience reduced signs of colic.

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How To Soothe Colic In Babies

In addition to frustration and exhaustion, you may have feelings of inadequacy and guilt as you try in vain to soothe your fussy baby. So while staying calm is easier said than done, these strategies may help ease the strain until colic passes.

Just give each a fair shot before you switch to another . Talk to your doctor for tips and possible causes of your baby’s colic too.

What Can You Do About Colic

It may help to see if there is a pattern to your baby’s crying. Many babies cry most in the late afternoon and evening hours. If you notice that your baby cries at certain times of day, you can try holding your baby more before those times. But during expected fussy times, limit visitors, keep noise and lights low, and touch your baby only if needed.

After crying starts, try rocking your baby in a quiet room, or take him or her out for a walk in a front-pack carrier or stroller. Some babies are soothed by riding in a car or listening to a droning sound, like a fan or a clothes dryer.

Do what you can to comfort your baby, but accept that sometimes nothing works. If you feel stressed or worn out, ask a friend or family member to give you a break. Take good care of yourself, and remember that colic will go away soon.

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Gripe Water And Colic

In the category of little evidence, lots of anecdotes is gripe water, touted as an herbal remedy for everything from baby gas to colic.

Some parents swear by gripe water as a way to calm a colicky baby, but no reliable studies have shown its effectiveness in relieving colic symptoms. And because it’s not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration , gripe water can also be a wild card in terms of what’s actually in it and in what quantities. Always check with your pediatrician before giving your baby gripe water or any other treatment marketed as baby colic drops.

Seeing Your Baby’s Health Care Provider

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Your baby’s health care provider can often diagnose colic by asking you about the baby’s medical history, symptoms, and how long the crying lasts. The provider will perform a physical exam and may do some tests to check your baby.

The provider needs to make sure your baby does not have other medical problems, such as reflux, a hernia, or intussusception.

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Other Remedies For Colic

Various physical treatments are sometimes promoted for colic. These include massage, cranial osteopathy, spinal manipulation and acupuncture. There is currently no evidence to back a recommendation for these treatments.

Some bottles and teats are sold as being specially for colic. Again there is no evidence for this. It does make sense that the shape of the feeding equipment might affect the amount of air being swallowed with the milk. This might make a baby less likely to have discomfort from wind. However, there is no evidence to suggest that wind is the cause of colic. Also, remember that where possible, breastfeeding is best for your baby.

What Causes Colic: Does Your Baby Suffer From A Medical Condition

No pain, no illness explanations of infantile colic have gotten a lot of attention over the years. Indeed, doctors have been counseled to reassure parents that in 95% of cases, no physical or health problems are found .

But this statistic is misleading. It reflects studies that define infantile colic as excessive crying in an otherwise healthy infant.

Obviously, such a definition is going to lead to an apparently low rate of physical or health problems among colicky babies. Were not going to find as many physical problems if we select from a group of individuals who dont seem to have any physical problems in the first place!

We get different results if we expand our criteria for colic to include symptoms like these:

  • signs of muscle tension or pain
  • high-pitched crying and
  • evidence of gastric distress

Babies exhibiting these signs are more likely to have an underlying medical condition, so if you observe them, you should consult your doctor. This is especially important if your baby has a hard, distended abdomen and flexed legs, symptoms that can sometimes indicate an opens in a new windowintestinal obstruction, or intussusception. Its a rare condition, but a dangerous one, so be sure to seek medical advice right away.

Other, less dire, conditions linked with excessive fussing or crying include:

  • cows milk protein intolerance and food allergies ,
  • carbohydrate malabsorption ,
  • GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disorder , and
  • transient lactose intolerance .

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Other Reasons Why Young Babies Cry

  • Gastroesophageal reflux. Most newborns reflux due to the immaturity of their gut. Basically, the short distance between their mouth and stomach, combined with a relaxed sphincter at the stop of their stomach contribute to the likelihood of reflux.
  • An infection. A urinary tract infection or ear infection can cause intense crying.
  • A hernia typically an inguinal or umbilical hernia.
  • Nervous system immaturity.
  • A nappy rash or other irritating skin condition.

When To Call The Doctor About Colic In Babies

AD | MY BABY HAD COLIC AND IT NEARLY BROKE ME | Colic Signs, Symptoms & Remedies | Ysis Lorenna

While the odds are that your babys daily screaming sessions are due to colic, if it seems like your baby is crying excessively, start by seeing the pediatrician.

The doctor can examine your baby to rule out any other potential causes of excessive crying. And if they think you’re definitely dealing with colic? It’s good to get some reassurance and maybe a few extra soothing strategies.

Describing the crying will also help the doctor rule out any underlying medical condition that could be triggering the crying.

Keep in mind, too, that this shall pass: Just when you think you can’t take another night of it, the crying will let up and then it’s gone forever.

From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.

  • What to Expect the First Year, 3rd edition, Heidi Murkoff.

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