What Is Colic In Newborn Babies

When To See The Doctor

How to Relieve Colic in Babies | Parents

Babies can cry for lots of reasons. If you think thereâs more to your little oneâs distress than colic, see your doctor to determine whether your little one has colic or potentially another medical condition.

See a doctor or call 111 straight away if your baby

  • has a fever with a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or higher

  • has an unusual, weak or very high-pitched cry

  • is vomiting or has diarrhoea

  • seems listless or sleepier than usual

  • isnât feeding well.

How To Manage Your Own Distress

Caring for a screaming baby who cant be soothed is extremely distressing. If you feel that you are getting too upset, you need to take some time out to calm down. Suggestions include:

  • Put your child in a safe place, such as a cot, and leave the room.
  • Walk around the house or go outside.
  • Relax your body by dropping your shoulders, clenching and unclenching your fists and stretching your back, arms and legs.
  • Have a drink and something to eat, if you can manage it.
  • Do something physical like running.

What To Do If Your Baby Has Colic

Unfortunately, theres no cure for colic and each baby responds differently to attempts to soothe them . But here weve put together some of the more common methods that people say might help soothe a baby with colic.


  • Holding your baby, wrapping them snugly in a blanket or putting them in a baby sling.
  • Holding your baby in different positions, such as on your shoulder, cradled in your arms, or lying with their tummy faced down along your forearm.
  • Swaddling: some people say swaddling their baby wrapping them snugly in a blanket can make them feel safe and secure.
  • Gently swaying your baby.
  • Sitting or holding your baby upright during feeding, to prevent them swallowing air.
  • Burping your baby after feeds or gently bringing their legs into their tummy.

Feeding and supplements:

  • Some people say using a fast-flow teat if you’re bottle-feeding helps your baby to not swallow air.
  • Burping your baby after feeds.
  • Do not change your babys formula unless your GP or health visitor advises this.
  • Anti-colic drops or supplements are not recommended as theres insufficient evidence they work.


Your diet if youre breastfeeding:

  • Its not recommended that you change your diet if youre breastfeeding . Yet some women find drinking too many caffeinated drinks, eating spicy food and alcohol can aggravate colic.

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Coping With A Baby Who Has Colic

If your baby has colic, itâs important to pay attention to your own emotional state. Caring for a baby with colic can be tough, and it can make you feel anxious and inadequate, not to mention stressed.

No matter how frustrated you feel, never shake your baby. Shaking an infant can cause bleeding in the brain, leading to permanent damage and even death.

If you find yourself feeling out of control and unsure if you can cope with your babyâs crying, try one or more of the following steps:

  • Breathe deeply and count to 10. Remember that many parents experience these feelings sometimes. Itâs nothing to be ashamed of.

  • Put your baby safely in his or her cot and leave the room for a short break. Decide how long youâll be â for example 10 minutes â and go back when the timeâs up.

  • Ask your health visitor or doctor about support groups in your local area

  • Ask for and accept help from family and friends who can take care of your baby for a short period to give you a little time out.

What’s The Difference Between Colic And Normal Crying

Colic Symptoms: How To Tell If Your Baby Has Colicky Pain

There isn’t a clear definition of exactly what colic is or how it differs from other types of crying.

But doctors typically agree that colic crying is louder, more intense and higher-pitched than normal crying sometimes almost like screaming.

Colicky babies also seem inconsolable, and tend to cry more throughout the day than babies without colic.

Most often, colicky periods recur daily, though some babies take an occasional night off.

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When Should I Call My Child’s Healthcare Provider

Before assuming your child has colic, look for other signs of illness. These may include:

  • Not sucking or drinking a bottle well
  • Drinking less milk than usual
  • Vomiting
  • Becoming more irritable when held or touched
  • Having a strange-sounding cry
  • Having a change in breathing rate or using extra effort to breathe
  • Being more sleepy or sluggish than normal
  • Fever of 100.4°F or higher, or as directed by your child’s healthcare provider

At What Age Can Babies Get Colic

Not all babies end up with colic â on average about 1 in 5 get it. If your little one does go through a colicky spell, the symptoms may start appearing at between 2 and 4 weeks of age.

The crying may be irregular at first, with crying spells getting longer until your little one is about 3 to 4 weeks old.

After this, you might notice a pattern in your little oneâs colicky crying. For example, it might typically last from 6 pm until 11 pm each night.

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When To Call The Doctor About Colic In Babies

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.

Coping With A Colicky Baby

Parents in Action: Soothing a colicky baby

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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Things You Can Try To Soothe Your Baby

Your baby does not usually need to see a doctor if they have colic. Speak to your health visitor for advice and support.

Health visitors and doctors will usually advise you to:

  • hold or cuddle your baby when they’re crying a lot
  • sit or hold your baby upright during feeding to stop them swallowing air
  • wind your baby after feeds
  • gently rock your baby over your shoulder
  • gently rock your baby in their Moses basket or crib, or push them in their pram
  • bath your baby in a warm bath
  • have some gentle white noise like the radio or TV in the background to distract them
  • keep feeding your baby as usual

Other things you may hear about include:

  • anti-colic drops and herbal and probiotic supplements
  • changes to your diet if you’re breastfeeding
  • applying gentle pressure to your baby’s spine or skull

But there’s very little evidence these things work. Speak to your health visitor for further advice.

Advice For Colic If Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding your baby can help them to relax and relieve pain.

Try emptying your milk in one breast during a feed before changing breasts. You create two types of milk when breastfeeding and the second half of your milk has more fat in it.

Fat slows down digestion and helps to release food slowly, helping with digestion.

If breastfeeding, avoid drinking tea, coffee and other drinks that contain caffeine.

Advice for colic if bottle-feeding

Try making up bottles with 1 to 2 oz more milk than your baby drinks. This will allow feeding to appetite and you can tell when your baby is full.

Minimise the amount of air in the bottle and feed your baby in the correct position.

Avoid changing the type of formula your baby is using. Always talk to your public health nurse before changing your baby’s formula milk.

Read Also: Which Bottles Are Best For Newborns

What If It’s Not Colic

Babies cry for other reasons that are not colic. The first step is to make sure a baby doesn’t have a health reason to be crying.

  • has a fever of 100.4°F or higher
  • is less alert or active than usual
  • isn’t feeding well
  • isn’t sucking strongly when taking the bottle or breast
  • has loose stools or blood in the stool
  • is throwing up
  • is losing weight or not gaining weight
  • can’t calm down no matter what you do

Food Sensitivity And/or Allergies

Baby Colic: Causes, Symptoms And Tips To Soothe

This cause also has a lot to do with your babys tummy. Some experts suggest that colic could be caused by a milk allergy connected to proteins found in formula. Similarly, it has also been suggested that certain foods in moms diet could cause colic in breastfed babies. While this cause is rarer than others, still consider if food allergies or sensitivities could be causing gas and tummy pain in your baby.

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When You Should See Your Gp

Non-urgent advice: Bring your baby to the GP if:
  • you are not sure if your baby has colic or why they are crying
  • they are vomiting green stuff
  • they have projectile vomiting
  • they are not feeding well
  • their symptoms started after you introduced formula
  • they are losing weight or not gaining weight
  • they have a temperature greater than 38 degrees C
  • you are concerned
  • you are finding it hard to cope

What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Colic

Colicky babies tend to cry inconsolably, often screaming, with episodes that have a clear beginning and end. This occurs irrespective of prior activity, whether an infant was feeding, sleeping or even previously happy. Crying spells can occur at any time, although they are perceived worse in the early evening hours.

During crying events, babies may exhibit physical signs of increased muscle tone, which include a red face, tense belly, legs drawn into belly, an arched back, stiff arms or fingers clenched shut.

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Colic Always Goes Away

Your baby will most likely outgrow colic by 3 to 4 months of age. There are usually no complications from colic.

Parents can get really stressed when a baby cries a lot. Know when you have reached your limit and ask family members or friends to help. If you feel like you may shake or hurt your baby, get help right away.

When To Call The Doctor

Colic: Does my baby have it?
  • Crying a lot and you are unable to calm your baby
  • 3 months old and still has colic

You need to make sure that your baby does not have any serious medical problems.

  • Your baby’s behavior or crying pattern changes suddenly
  • Your baby has a fever, forceful vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stools, or other stomach problems

Get help right away for yourself if you feel overwhelmed or have thoughts of harming your baby.

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What’s Normal Crying And What’s Colic

Don’t be surprised if your newborn cries a lot. During their first 3 months of life, babies can cry for up to 2 hours a day.

If your baby has colic, though, they are more likely to:

  • Cry for what seems like no reason — even when they don’t need to eat or have their diaper changed
  • Start to cry in the evening, or at the same time every day
  • Cry for 3 or more hours each day, more than 3 days a week, for at least 3 weeks
  • Make sounds that are more intense than normal — more like a high-pitched scream than a cry
  • Not be soothed, even when you feed or rock them

What Is The Definition Of Colic

Colic is the word used to describe a condition when a healthy baby cries for more than three hours per day, more than three days per week, for three or more weeks, and is hard to console or comfort.

With a colicky baby, the bouts of crying typically intensify and last as the day goes on, and can worsen in the evening, typically between 6 pm and midnight.

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When Should We Contact Our Primary Care Provider

Before assuming your child has colic, you should look for other signs of illness. These may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Not sucking or drinking a bottle well
  • Drinking less milk than usual
  • Gastrointestinal issues like vomiting or diarrhea
  • Becoming more irritable when held or touched
  • Strange sounding cry
  • Change in breathing rate or effort
  • Being more sleepy or sluggish than usual

Choosing The Right Formula: 3 Basic Steps

What Is Colic? (And How You Can Soothe A Colicky Baby)

To start with, here are 3 easy steps that will help you choose the right formula, plus a few things to keep in mind before you prepare it.

Step 1: Choose the right formula for your baby. If youre not sure what formula is best, talk with your pediatrician for advice. Use our Formula Finder to get tailored suggestions.

Step 2: Choose the type of formula that works best for you: powder, ready to feed, or concentrated liquid.

Tip: Use powder or concentrated liquid for everyday use and ready to feed for convenience when traveling.

Step 3: Read all the information below before making your first bottle. We hope this will answer any questions that may come up along the way.

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When To Call Your Doctor Immediately

A number of signs and symptoms may suggest that your baby is more seriously ill. It is recommended that you contact your doctor immediately if your baby:

  • has a weak, high-pitched continuous cry
  • seems floppy when you pick them up
  • takes less than a half of their usual feeds
  • passes less urine than usual
  • vomits green fluid
  • passes blood in their stools
  • has a fever such as 38°C or above or 39°C or above
  • has a bulging fontanelle
  • has a fit
  • turns blue, blotchy or very pale
  • has a stiff neck
  • has breathing problems, such as breathing quickly or grunting while breathing
  • has a spotty, purple-red rash anywhere on their body
  • has a seizure

None of the above symptoms is caused by colic. If you cant get hold of your doctor, call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 for advice .

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has issued a product recall for all batches of Infants’ Friend oral liquid

Information for consumers

If you have a bottle of Infants’ Friend oral liquid, do not use it. Return it to the place you purchased it from for a refund.

If you have any questions or concerns about this issue, talk to your health professional or contact Infants’ Friend Pty Ltd customer service on 1800 981 403.

For more information please see TGA’s alert on Infants’ Friend oral liquid.

Feed A Little Longer On Each Breast

Ensure that your baby feeds longer on each breast rather than alternating between each breast. The hindmilk that comes out after the baby has sucked on a breast for a while is more nutritious than the foremilk that comes out at the beginning. Hindmilk contains more fat, which promotes digestion and soothes the stomach. Too much foremilk can cause digestive distress.

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Crying Isnt Always Colic

If your baby is not eating and growing normally, they are not experiencing colic. More likely, there is a medical issue that is impeding feeding.

Notify your pediatrician of this, or if your baby cries for extended periods of time , which could indicate an issue such as an ear infection, dehydration, or an illness.

If a baby under 2 months old has a fever of 100.4 degrees F or above, thats a potential emergency, so seek immediate medical attention.

Signs Of Colic In Babies

My Baby Has Colic

Dr. Lester says the colic symptom checklist includes the sudden onset of a high-pitched, screechy “pain cry” and inconsolability. Other signs include an enlarged stomach, passing more gas than usual, and extending/pulling up the legs.

What’s the difference between normal crying and colic? With normal crying, the wails are usually related to a need , and come in no particular pattern throughout the day and night. Fussy babies tend to calm down with cuddling, being held, being sung to, or being rocked. Colicky babies, on the other hand, suffer from unprovoked crying spells that don’t stop after trying soothing techniques.

“Colic is not the same kind of cry you’d get with ‘I’m hungry,’ or ‘I’m dirty,’ or ‘I’m tired,'” says Parents advisor Jennifer Shu, M.D., coauthor of Heading Home With Your Newborn. “With a hunger cry, babies feel better when you feed them. With colic, you don’t know what your baby wants.”

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