Newborns Common Problems Colic

Babies naturally cry and can be fussy at times. While some babies will cry more than others, in some cases, unexplained crying that occurs at a particular time of day or in random, spontaneous bouts can indicate that your baby suffers from colic.

Understanding Infantile Colic and Colic Causes

Colic is a condition in which an otherwise healthy baby cries or screams continuously for a period of more than three hours. Other names for colic include:

  • infantile colic
  • paroxysmal fussing
  • three month colic.

While colic typically occurs in babies that are between two weeks and four months of age, those who are two months old are most susceptible to developing this condition.

Because colic has such general symptoms, doctors may misdiagnose it when the baby is really suffering from a food allergy. If you breastfeed, take notes on what you eat and look for any colic symptoms that appear after your baby eats. Your baby’s colic may be the result of gassiness, which could be caused by:

  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • dairy products, such as milk and ice cream
  • onions.

Preventing Colic

Although doctors are not completely sure why colic occurs, we do know that colic is not the result of parental mistreatment or the baby’s environment. Colic is also not gender-specific, as it affects both boy and girl babies equally. Because colic continues to have unidentifiable causes, it can’t be prevented. Luckily, however, colic can be treated a number of ways.

Colic Symptoms

Prolonged, inconsolable crying is the main symptom of infantile colic. However, because babies cry for a variety of reasons, including when they are hungry or uncomfortable, you may have a hard time knowing whether or not your baby suffers from colic. If you suspect your baby might have colic, ask your pediatrician to look for underlying causes to your baby’s frequent crying. Pediatrician’s can check to see if some other, more serious condition is causing your baby to cry frequently.

Dr. Ron Barr, a Canadian physician, developed the PURPLE acronym to describe the common characteristics of colic:

  • Peaks around two months
  • Unpredictable, often happening for no apparent reason
  • Resistant to soothing
  • Pain-like expression on the baby’s face, even without any source of pain
  • Long bouts of crying, lasting 30 to 40 minutes or more
  • Evening crying is common.

Other colic symptoms include:

  • clenched fists
  • knees tucked to the stomach
  • redness in the face.

You cannot accurately diagnose colic in a single day. If your baby cries continuously at least three times a week for 20 minutes or longer, (s)he likely has colic. If your pediatrician has ruled out other possible reasons for your baby’s persistent crying, focus your energy on soothing your baby and finding a colic treatment method that works.

Colic Treatment Methods

You can try a number of methods to soothe your baby and treat his or her colic. Because some colic treatments may be ineffective, keep trying new treatments out until you find the one colic treatment that works best on your baby. Here are a few home colic treatment techniques to try:

  • dim the room lights: If your baby is uncomfortable, bright lights may prevent him from relaxing.
  • give a gentle massage: Rub your baby’s belly in a gentle circular motion to help ease the passage of gas. You can also slowly move your baby’s legs in a bicycle motion.
  • hold your baby upright: If your baby has gas, holding him upright for a while may release some of his or her abdominal discomfort.
  • soothe your baby: Hold your baby close and rock him gently. A rocking chair may be an excellent investment for a colicky baby.
  • using Gripe Water: Ask your pediatrician if your baby should try this natural homeopathic treatment for colic. The chamomile will ease the baby’s irritability, and the fennel will ease any stomach spasms.

Colic can be very frustrating to parents who have never experienced it. Before you try anything new to treat your baby’s colic symptoms, consult your pediatrician.

Your pediatrician make recommend that you keep a colic notebook in which you track the frequency and type of your baby’s symptoms. In these notes, also keep track of what your baby was doing immediately before displaying the signs colic. As you start trying out various colic treatments, jot down which were more or less effective so you (or anyone else) has this information for future use.

If you use formula, you may find that Carnation Good Start is helpful. It has “comfort proteins,” designed to ease your baby’s digestion. Enfamil also makes a product called Nutramigen® LIPIL® that is hypoallergenic and designed to help babies with milk protein allergies.

Colic Complications

As a general rule, colic will not cause any health complications, provided your baby is generally healthy. If you suspect colic, take your baby to his pediatrician and describe his or her symptoms as accurately as possible.

Monitor your baby’s health closely. If your baby vomits, has bloody stools or runs a high fever, take your baby to the doctor. These are not colic symptoms and could indicate the presence of some other serious health condition. If the colic symptoms do not go away naturally after three or four months, talk to your doctor. Prolonged symptoms may indicate that your baby has a reflux condition.

Fortunately, colic doesn’t last forever. Your baby will eventually calm down and will outgrow the colic symptoms within a few months. It is common for parents to feel frustrated with a baby’s colic symptoms.


Colic Calm (2007). Gripe Water by Colic Calm: Information and Ingredients. Retrieved January 31, 2008, from the Colic Calm Web site.

Family Doctor (2007). Colic: Learning How to Deal with Your Baby’s Crying. Retrieved January 31, 2008, from the American Academy of Family Physicians Web site.

Labor of Love (2007). How Will I Know that My Baby Has Colic? Retrieved January 31, 2008, from the Labor of Love Web site.

Mama’s Health (2007). Colic. Retrieved January 31, 2008, from the Mama’s Health Web site.

Mayo Clinic (2007). Colic. Retrieved January 31, 2008, from Mayo Clinic Web site.