Suhani Jain
MBBS, Medical Editorial Team, Pediatric Oncall
First Created: 11/01/2022  Last Updated: 03/17/2023

Patient Education

What is Colic?

All newborns cry and get finicky, especially during the first 3 months.

Colic is defined as when a healthy baby cries for a long time even when there is no obvious reason. The duration of crying is more than 3 hours a day or more than 3 weeks or more than 3 days a week for it to be labeled as Colic.

Colic doesn't always mean that there's some problem with the baby, it usually goes away on its own by 6 months.

Why does colic happen?

The nervous system of babies is immature and still developing, so the babies have to self-soothe themselves to adjust to the sights and sounds of the outside world. When this doesn't happen, they tend to cry for longer hours than expected. However, parents are reassured that this goes away with time.

Other reasons could be that the mother's feed or the infant formula is not suiting the baby and causing digestion problems.

As a result of their excessive air intake when crying, some colicky newborns also have gas. But the colic is not brought on by the gas.

How to understand if it's colic or the natural cry of a baby?

Colic affects healthy, feeding, and developing infants who cry in fits. The spells occur at the same hour every day. The crying typically begins in the early evening 6 p.m. to midnight.

When having a colic episode, a baby: has shrill, high-pitched wailing that is difficult to calm, a flushed face or pale skin around the mouth, and may tense their legs, tighten their limbs, arch their backs, or clench their fists.

How is colic diagnosed?

The health care provider takes a detailed history of the pattern of crying, any triggers that led to the spells, or any other things that help the baby soothe.

The doctor would then perform a clinical exam and some imaging studies, as well as a battery of blood tests, may be ordered.

What is the treatment of colic at home?

There is no known way to cure colic. However, there are ways the parents may assist.

  • Ensure that the child is not hungry.
  • Make sure the diaper on the child is clean.
  • During feedings, try burping the child more frequently.
  • Try different bottles if bottle-feed is used to see if they can help the baby ingest less air.
  • Ask the doctor whether switching formulas would be beneficial.
  • Walk or rock with the baby.
  • Talk or sing to the baby.
  • Give the baby a pacifier
  • Adjust the baby's position. If the baby is lying down, raise him or her. If you are carrying or holding the baby against your chest, allow to face forward. Babies enjoy seeing different perspectives on the world which diverts their attention
  • Allow the baby to rest on the parents lap on his or her tummy while you gently rub their back.
  • Give the baby a warm bath.
  • Consider placing the newborn in a child safety seat in the back of the vehicle and take a drive. The motion of the car can often be soothing.
  • Play some music; some babies find that sound and movement help them to relax.

What are Complications of colic?

For parents, it is upsetting and stressful.

Baby and parents experience sleep loss

It's possible to overfeed a colicky baby in an effort to halt the crying. This could exacerbate the colic.

What Advice can be given to parents while handling their colicky baby?

Close the door, place the infant in a crib on his or her back without any extra blankets or stuffed animals, and check on them in 10 minutes. Try to relax and keep calm during those ten minutes by doing something. Consider washing your face, grabbing a snack, taking a few calm breaths, or turning on some music.

Nobody is at fault for the crying. Recognize that your baby will grow out of this stage and try to relax. The healthcare professional for your child will make recommendations for actions that could help to calm your child.

When should the child be taken to the health care provider?

If you see the following changes in the baby

  • Vomiting, diarrhea
  • Not properly sucking or consuming a bottle of milk
  • If the child is getting angrier when gripped or touched
  • Fever of at least 100.4°F (38°C), or as prescribed by your child's doctor
  • Breathing more laboriously
  • Is either gaining weight or losing weight.
  • Unable to settle down despite your best efforts

Patient Education

1-teaspoon juice of mint (phudina) given with a small quantity of powdered black pepper and honey relieves colic.

Colic Colic 2023-03-17
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