Colic: What you need to know

Colic is experienced by 1 in 4 babies. Colic isn’t an illness and won’t harm your baby’s health or have any long-term effects, but it’s a tough thing to go through for all involved – babies and parents. It can break your heart and test your patience all at the same time.

The most common sign of colic is that your baby cries uncontrollably for several hours at a time. Your little one is considered colicky by diagnosing with the rule of 3:

  • If it begins around the first 3 weeks of life
  • Lasts at least 3 hours a day
  • Occurs at least 3 days a week
  • Continues for at least 3 weeks
  • Seldom lasts longer than 3 months

While it’s not harmful to them, it’s still very distressing. No parent likes to see their little angel upset and in discomfort.  Unfortunately no one knows for sure what causes colic in babies, but it has been linked to excess air being swallowed during feeding, trapped wind, sensitivities to milk or the fact their little digestive system is still developing.

Symptoms of colic:

  • Babies cry. That’s not new news! When they’re wet, hungry, frightened, or even tired. But if you’ve tried all the above and they are still crying, inconsolably for 2-3 hours, it’s most likely colic
  • Bringing their little legs up to their chest
  • Clenching their tiny fists
  • Becoming flushed in the face
  • You may also notice that it can get a bit worse in the late afternoon

If your little one suffers from Colic, don’t worry as there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Colic usually disappears by the time your baby is 3months.

In the meantime, comfort them as best you can and ask for help when you need it. Caring for a colicky baby can be very stressful, and you need to take regular breaks to keep yourself sane. Tag in your partner, a relative or a friend while you go for a walk, a nice long hot bath or even have a good cry yourself (you’ll feel much better after it).

Coping with Colic

Here are some suggested ways to comfort your little one if they have colic. We can’t promise all of them will help but some might – and when your baby is screaming the house down, it always feels better to have something to try.

Baby massage

It can help them to pass wind and may help. Stroke your baby’s tummy in a clockwise direction and then gently bring their legs up to their tummy in a cycling motion. You can also massage their back and their chest.

Feed upright

Colic does seem to be associated with wind. Your baby will swallow less air as they feed if you sit them up a little. Don’t forget to wind them during the feed and afterwards as normal, too.

White noise

White noise (which is like the sound of the hoover, hair dryer or washing machine) resembles the sound of what they heard when they were in your womb so this will be settling for them.

Sway and sssh

Cradle your baby on their side and then sway from side to side; making sure your baby’s head is snug in your arm.

Change of atmosphere

Leave where you are and go somewhere else. Even driving in the car may help your little one to relax or get out for a walk in the buggy.

Do the ‘tiger in the tree’

Holding and carrying your baby tummy down, rather than tummy up, can help ease old trapped wind.

Talk to your health care professional

They might be able to offer advice or remedies that will be able to help your little one. Your Public Health Nurse may also be able to show you some different winding techniques to try.

If your little one has colic, please be assured that it will pass. You’ve both just got to hang in there! If you’ve any questions about Colic, call or chat to our Careline. Our Mum’s have experienced colic first hand and may be able to help. We also have a booklet for some more information and tips that we can send you. Email help@candgbabyclub.ie or Freephone 1800 570 570.