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Colic: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment of Colic

Sleep like a baby is a common phrase we hear from people, but not all babies sleep the same. If you have ever come across a baby with colic, then you will know that sleep is something that seems like an illusion.

Colic can be a parents worst nightmare, the screaming for hours on end and when I say screaming, I’m mean blood curdling screaming. Sometimes if feels like it will never stop, but thankfully it does.

Colic is an attack of crying and what appears to be abdominal pain in young infancy. It is a common condition and is estimated to affect up to 1 in 5 infants during their first few months. Colic is characterised by long bouts of crying for no obvious reason. (

Some websites also say that they define Colic as 3 hours of crying, for more than 3 weeks, for at least 3 weeks.

Colic can be very overwhelming for new parents, it can make you feel like you’re a failure and that you don’t know what you are doing. These feelings can lead to exhaustion, anxiety and depression, so it is so beneficial so have some help dealing with colic.

If you are experiencing anxiety or depression then make sure that you see your local practitioner or support groups for help.

What are the symptoms of Colic?

  • Bloated tummy

  • Recurrent and prolonged periods of crying

  • Fussiness or irritability

  • Lots of wind

  • Clenched fists, knees jabbing up to the stomach

  • Arching back, appear stiff

  • Redness in the face

  • Wakeful when sleeping due to abdominal discomfort

Although colic does not harm the baby, it can cause such discomfort for the baby and the only way they know how to communicate the discomfort to you, is crying.

Causes of Colic

  • Immature digestive system

  • Gastric reflux

  • Food allergies

  • Food intolerances

  • Over feeding

  • Under feeding

  • Imbalance in the digestive tract

As a new parent it may seem like you have no clue how to help your baby, however there are many things that you can do to help. First know that this phase will pass and that your baby will not scream for the rest of their life, but it does feel like that.

The biggest thing with colic is trying to get the gas moving to relieve the pressure in their little tummies. There are several ways that you can do this and the trick is to keep alternating and repeating.

Wind your little one high up on your shoulder, with their arms over your shoulder, Pat and rub in a circular motion. Try this for a few minutes.

Sit baby on your lap, with their legs dangling down. With one hand support the head under the chin, use the other hand to pat and rub. Just make sure that the back is straight.

Lay your baby on their tummy on your inner forearm, using your hand to support their head. With the other hand pat and rub.

Sit your baby up on your knee, legs dangling down, head supported from the front and back. Rotate your baby clockwise, then anticlockwise 5 times, then lay your baby back almost flat. Bring baby up to sitting in a swift motion.

Repeat these steps if needed, until you feel your baby has moved the gas.

With colic a lot of the trapped wind is actually in their intestines, so they may not bring up any wind. I would try burping for 5-10 minutes and if they are uncomfortable then try some colic release exercises. There are some great videos on You Tube, I personally like Mumma Love Organics channel, so give them a try.


If you are breastfeeding, then you might notice that once your letdown reflex has kicked in, that your baby is flooded with milk and takes huge gulps of air down. This is one of the biggest culprits with colic and can be easily remedied.

Lie back slightly in the chair when feeding, this will reduce the force of the milk when it is flowing.

When you can feel your letdown kicking in, remove your baby from the breast, once it has passed pop baby back on the breast. Just make sure you put a cloth over your breast or you will leak everywhere.

Make sure that you empty the breast as the milk changes through the feed. The last part of the feed is like a desert and helps with digestion of the milk.

Lactation consultants are very important if your baby has colic, it may only take a few pointers here and there to improve your latch.

If you are Formula feeding your baby lie baby back slightly to slow the milk down.

Try not to let your baby gulp the feed down, wind in between to release the pressure.

You may need to try a few different formula’s and see how each one effects your baby

The bottle/teat can play a big role in colic for formula fed babies. If the flow is too fast or too slow then they will take in lots of air.

Switch to a different brand of bottles, Dr Browns bottle as they are clinically proven to reduce colic.

You may need to keep your baby upright for 20-30 minutes after a feed, try walking around as movement will help release the gas.

If all of these things are not working then it may be worth trying some over the counter medication to help release the gas.

For more informative pregnancy, birth and baby related articles, read our Maternity Mum blog.


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