For full functionality to work on this website and get the best experience, please make sure JavaScript is enabled.

Colic

The NHS states that colic is ‘the name for excessive, frequent crying in a baby who appears to be otherwise healthy. It's a common problem that affects up to one in five babies. Colic tends to begin when a baby is a few weeks old. It normally stops by four months of age, or by six months at the latest. Looking after a colicky baby can be very frustrating and distressing, but the problem will eventually pass and is usually nothing to worry about.’

Much more information can be found on the NHS Choices
 website, including information on treating colic, but their summary of the main symptoms and tips for helping a baby with colic are:

Signs and symptoms of colic include:

  • intense crying bouts
  • crying in the late afternoon or evening that lasts several hours
  • the baby's face being red and flushed when they cry
  • the baby clenching their fists, drawing their knees up to their tummy, or arching their back while crying

If a baby has colic, they may appear to be in distress. But the crying outbursts are not harmful, and the baby should continue to feed and gain weight normally.

Advice for parents
 

Caring for a baby with colic can be very difficult for parents, particularly first-time parents. It's important to remember that:

  • a baby's colic is no one’s fault – it doesn't mean the baby is unwell, parents are doing something wrong, or parents are being rejected by the baby
  • the  baby will get better eventually – colic normally stops before a baby is four to six months old
  • parents should look after their own wellbeing – if possible, ask friends and family for support as it's important to take regular breaks and get some rest

Support groups, such as Cry-sis, can also offer help and advice if needed. They can be contacted through the Cry-sis helpline for advice on 0845 122 8669 (9am-10pm, seven days a week).

Tips for helping a baby with colic

There's no method that works for all babies with colic, but there are a number of techniques that may help. These include:

  • holding the baby during a crying episode
  • preventing the baby swallowing air by sitting or holding them upright during feeding
  • burping the baby after feeds
  • gently rocking the baby over the shoulder
  • bathing the baby in a warm bath
  • gently massaging the baby's tummy

Some babies may also benefit from changes to their diet, such as adding drops to breast or bottle milk that aid digestion and release any bubbles of trapped air in the baby's digestive system.

Speak to a GP or pharmacist for advice before trying these.

What causes colic?

The cause or causes of colic are unknown, but a number of theories have been suggested. These include indigestion, trapped wind, or a temporary gut sensitivity to certain proteins and sugars found in breast and formula milk. 
It has also been suggested colic may just be at the extreme end of normal crying in babies. Colic occurs equally in boys and girls, and both in babies who are breastfed and those who are bottle-fed.

All information is supplied from the NHS. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Colic/Pages/Introduction.aspx accessed on 14/03/2017