Colic in infants- things you should know

Crying is normal for babies. It is their means of expression and effort to grab the attention of their parents. But have you ever noticed your baby crying out loud continuously for long hours out of no reason? When you take your child to the paediatrician, they will most probably tell you the infant is suffering from colic. Colic in infants is very common and can be dealt with very easily.

What is colic in babies?

Going by the definition, a baby, less than 3 months of age, has colic if it

  • cries for at least 3 hours a day
  • for at least 3 days and
  • can persist up to 3 weeks in a row

Colic is not a disease or a diagnostic; it is the child’s reaction to some discomfort it might be facing.

Signs/ symptoms of colic

A colicky child may be in pain and can express the discomfort in any of the following ways:

  • prolonged high pitch wailing for long hours for no reason (not hungry, no wet diapers etc.)
  • tightening stomach muscles
  • clenching fists
  • having bloated tummy due to gas
  • Passing gas as a colicky baby swallows more air

What are the reasons for colic in babies?

The reasons for colic can be divided into the following categories:

Food intolerance

Infants may develop allergy to certain food or formula milk. Besides colic, the baby might vomit and show heartburn and acid reflux.


It refers to a condition where a part of the intestine telescopes into itself. Symptoms may include colic, abdominal pain and leg cramps.

Acid reflux

It’s a condition in which the stomach bile or acid cause irritation in the food pipe. Symptoms are colic with heartburn, bitter taste and dry cough.

Ear or nose infection

Sometimes a nasal or ear irritation can lead to colic in infants.

Tobacco exposure

Some studies reveal that mothers who are frequent smokers during or after pregnancy may induce colic in their children.

How to avoid colic during breastfeeding?

Colic during breastfeeding is very common. Regarding this, Dr. Rahat Sayyad has beautifully explained in an email interview with mommies series: In conversation with Dr. Rahat Sayyad

What to do when baby has colic?

As discussed above, colic is not a disease. It’s a child’s reaction to a certain discomfort he/ she might be in. And the best part is, it is completely curable. Moreover, it fades as the baby crosses 4 months of age.

Do the following when your baby is colicky:

  • swaddle the baby in a warm comfy blanket
  • rock in your arms in a comfortable position
  • infant massage to release gas: hold both legs together, then bend them till the knees touch the belly.
  • distract the baby: infants are sensitive to sounds
  • play music
  • take the baby for a walk
  • give pacifier if recommended
  • give a warm bath before sleep
  • give medicine or grip water as prescribed by a paediatrician
  • change the formula milk
  • avoid smoking
  • change the mother’s diet accordingly

Home remedies for colic

  • Fennel seed soaked in warm water releases gas
  • A warm bath for a comfortable sleep
  • Burping your baby will release gas
  • Baby massage
Firstcry parenting video on colic in babies