Coping With a Baby That Has Colic – What is Colic?

Coping with a Colicky Baby

Colic is defined as a baby that spends at least 3 hours per day crying for no obvious reason.

If you baby turns out to be a colicky, crying from one feed to the next, it can really ruin your day! Some health professionals think that colic is a result of abdominal pain possibly caused by reflux or wind.

Babies with colic usually draw their knees up and scream as they have pain in their stomachs just like an adult who suffers from really bad indigestion or reflux.

If you are not sure whether your baby is colicky or not, you may want to talk to your medical professional. There are over the counter medications that may help. Often babies with colic enjoy being laid on their tummy with someone patting their backs. Lots of gentle movement like in the car seat or swing may also help. Baby carrying with a sling is also another good way to calm a screaming baby down. Remember that some of these will help some babies and not others so you will have to find what works best for your little one.

Breastfed Babies

All babies can develop colic regardless of how they are fed but it seems to be less common in breastfed babies. If your baby is crying a lot, before assuming it’s colic, consider that your baby might be going through a growth spurt and wants to cluster feed. Common times for growth spurts are during the first few days at home and around 7-10 days, 2-3 weeks, 4-6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months and 9 months (more or less).

If your baby isn’t cluster feeding, try and breastfeed the baby in a more upright position where possible. Laying your baby vertically on your chest whilst you are in a semi sitting position may help this. If you have a strong let down reflex which ejects lots of milk, try to de-latch baby if you feel the flow of your milk is too fast for them. This may prevent unnecessary air being swallowed and causing discomfort. Baby massage may also be helpful and lots of cuddles.

Bottle fed babies

The first thing that you can do is to check the bottle. You will want to make sure that the hole is not too small or too large. If the hole in the nipple/teat is to small, then the baby may have a hard time getting the milk out. If it is too large the baby can get to much air. Air is a big cause of tummy problems in many babies.

There are some bottles that are made so that the air intake is reduced to the minimum. You can find these online and in local stores. You will need to shop around and see which one is the best for your baby. Some of these will be cheaper than others and you will want to keep this in mind. 

Happy feedings

You should try to feed the baby before they are really hungry. If the baby gets really hungry then they might gulp their milk too quickly. If they are upset and crying you may want to try to calm them down before you feed them to avoid air intake. Watch out for feeding cues such as putting hands in mouth or licking lips. These are signs that your baby is ready for a feed.


Another thing that can cause colic is lack of burping. You will want to burp your baby right after every feed so that the baby does not get gas bubbles in their tummy. Gas bubbles will cause the baby’s tummy to hurt very badly. This in turn will cause the baby to be very cranky.

Most of the time babies can be burped when they are halfway through the bottle. In certain cases though, your baby may need more burping. You may find that the baby is getting air and needs to be burped every few minutes. It all depends on how fast the baby is eating. Burping after a meal is a must. 

Make sure that if you do find out that your baby is colicky you find the information that you need so that you can help your baby feel better. Parents that have been through this know how stressful it can be when the baby is crying for hours or days at the time. 

This can feel like a hopeless situation but there is help and support out there. Just remember that you can talk with your doctor or health visitor when things become too much. You need your sleep and so does your baby! If nothing seems to help then be patient and know that this colicky stage will eventually pass. It may help to ask a relative to help by coming over to watch the baby for a couple of hours so you can have some rest.

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