Signs and Symptoms of Colic in Newborns

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Published On
12 Dec, 2023
Read Time
3 minutes

As a new parent, it can be overwhelming to decipher the cries and fussiness of your newborn. One possible explanation for their discomfort could be colic.

In this blog, we'll discuss the signs and symptoms of colic in newborns, as well as some tips for soothing a colicky baby. By understanding colic, you can better support your little one during this challenging time.

What is colic?

Colic is characterized by excessive crying and fussiness in a baby who is otherwise healthy and well-fed. A baby with colic may cry for a total of at least three hours a day, at least three days a week, and for at least three consecutive weeks.

It's a common condition that affects up to one in five infants and can be distressing for both baby and parents.

Colic causes

The cause of colic is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to digestive issues or overstimulation.

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

Symptoms of colic to look out for

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 long does colic last for?

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 treat colic at home

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
  • 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?

Yes, if you suspect that your baby is experiencing colic, it's best to consult with your healthcare provider to rule out any other potential causes of their discomfort.

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

  • has a fever with a temperature of 100.4°F 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 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.