Signs and Symptoms of Colic

Article By
Published On
12 Dec, 2023
Read Time
3 minutes

As a parent, it can be difficult to decipher whether your baby is crying because they're hungry, tired, or uncomfortable. However, if your baby is crying excessively and inconsolably, it may be a sign of colic.

In this blog, we'll explore the signs and symptoms of colic, so you can better understand what's happening with your little one and take steps to provide relief.

What is colic?

Colic is excessive crying with no obvious cause. It’s a common condition that affects many babies and can be distressing for both the baby and the parents.

What causes colic?

Although the cause of colic is unknown, it may be caused by several factors, including:

  • digestive upset including reflux
  • the baby’s digestive system not being fully developed
  • imbalance of gut bacteria
  • food intolerances or allergies
  • not burping after feeding
  • under or overfeeding
  • headaches
  • stress or anxiety
  • overstimulation

Colic symptoms explained

Colic is a condition that affects many babies and can be distressing for both the baby and the parents. It has a variety of symptoms, including:

  • excessive intense crying which often occurs in the late afternoon or evening and can last for several hours
  • crying for no apparent reason
  • difficult to soothe or settle
  • fussiness
  • clenched fists
  • going red in the face
  • bringing knees up to their tummy
  • arching their back

How to treat colic

Luckily, there are a range of different things you can try to help ease the symptoms of colic.

The following things may help soothe your little one:

  • hold or cuddle your baby when they’re crying
  • hold them upright during and after feeding to stop them from swallowing air
  • if you're bottle feeding, give an anti-colic bottle a go, and try our Colicsoothe milk air vacuum for an extra layer of anti-colic protection
  • wind baby regularly
  • gently rocking them
  • warm baths
  • white noise to reduce overstimulation
  • keep feeding as usual

Do I need to visit a doctor for colic?

Although colic is rarely serious, excessive crying may be an indication of illness or pain. If you suspect that your baby may have colic, it's important to speak with your healthcare provider to rule out any other underlying medical conditions and to discuss possible treatment options.

You should seek medical advice right away if your little one:

  • has a fever with a temperature of 38°C or higher
  • has an unusual, weak or very high-pitched cry
  • is vomiting or has diarrhoea
  • seems listless or sleepier than usual
  • isn’t feeding well

How long does colic last?

The duration of colic can vary from baby to baby, but it typically begins around two or three weeks of age and lasts for around three months. Some babies may experience colic for a shorter period, while others may have symptoms for up to six months.

You should check in with your doctor if your little one's colic symptoms don’t ease after the age of four months.

How to cope with a colicky baby

Even though it can be really difficult to cope with, it's key to remember that colic is not a serious medical condition and will eventually pass on its own. However, it can be very distressing for both the baby and the parents.

If your baby has colic, you may be feeling overtired and stressed from the upset of dealing with a baby that won’t stop crying. Many parents of babies with colic say they seem guilty, helpless, exhausted, or angry.

It is important to ask for help from other parents, family members or friends and seek medical advice if you are concerned about your baby's symptoms or if they're affecting your ability to care for your baby.

Colic support

  1. Contact your health visitor, GP, or call NHS 111