What is Colic in babies?

Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Parenthood is a journey filled with countless milestones, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. One challenge that many new parents face is dealing with colic in their babies.

Colic is a common condition characterized by excessive crying and fussiness in infants – typically starting within the first few weeks of life. It can be stressful for both the baby and the parents, but understanding what colic is and how to manage it can help alleviate some of the stress.

What is Colic?

Colic is not a disease or illness, but rather a term used to describe excessive, unexplained crying in otherwise healthy infants. Colic affects up to 20% of babies, usually beginning around 2 or 3weeks of age and resolving around 3 to 4 months old. Colic episodes often occur in the late afternoon or evening and can last for several hours at a time.

Symptoms of Colic

  • Intense, inconsolable crying that lasts for hours
  • Crying episodes that occur at the same time each day
  • Clenched fists, flushed face and tense abdominal muscles during crying
  • Difficulty soothing your baby, even with feeding, changing or holding
  • No signs of illness or discomfort

Causes of Colic

We don’t know the exact cause of colic, but several things may contribute to it:

  • Digestive issues
    Some experts believe that gastrointestinal discomfort, such as gas or indigestion, may play a role in colic.
  • Immature nervous system
    Your baby’s nervous systems is still developing, which may make them more sensitive and prone to fussiness.
  • Overstimulation
    Excessive noise, lights or activity can overwhelm a newborn’s senses and trigger colic episodes.
  • Parental Stress
    Your baby may pick up on your stress, which can affect their own mood and behavior.

Managing Colic

While there is no definitive cure for colic, there are several strategies that you can try to help soothe your baby and alleviate symptoms:

  • Comfort measures
    Gentle rocking, swaddling and holding your baby close can provide comfort and help calm them during episodes of colic.
  • White noise
    Background noise, such as a fan or a noise machine, can help drown out other sounds and create a calming environment for your baby.
  • Changes in feeding
    If breastfeeding, you can try eliminating certain foods from your diet that may contribute to gas or discomfort in your baby. For formula-fed babies, switching to a different formula may help.
  • Burping
    Ensuring that your baby is properly burped after feedings can help release trapped gas and prevent discomfort.
  • Stay calm
    It’s easier said than done, but it’s important to remain calm and patient when dealing with a colicky baby. Taking breaks when needed and seeking support from friends, family or a healthcare provider can help alleviate stress.

There’s no way around it. Colic is a challenging – but temporary – condition that many babies experience during the early months of their life. By understanding the symptoms, causes, anddifferent tips that could help manage colic, I know you’ll be able to better support your baby through this difficult time. Remember, colic will eventually resolve on its own, and in the meantime, patience, comfort and support are key.

If you have questions, always remember to speak to your baby’s pediatrician. If your baby doesn’t have one, or if you’re pregnant and looking for one, Northeast Georgia Physicians Group is accepting new pediatric patients in Gainesville. You can learn more here or call 770-219-9445 to schedule an appointment.