Identifying Colic and How to Soothe Your Baby


Colic can affect 1 in 5 infants in their first few months. It is identified by an attack of scream-like crying and what seems like abdominal pain in young infancy. Crying when there’s no obvious cause is a common problem when a baby has colic and it can be hard to identify what their issue is. In order to rule out hunger, a wet nappy or tiredness, a baby with colic usually cries for more than 3 hours a day, 3 days a week for at least 1 week. They may cry mostly after meals, in the afternoon and evening, rather than the morning. It’s usually quite hard to soothe or settle your baby if they have colic too.

If you see your baby clenching their fists, going red in the face, bringing their knees up to their tummy or arching their back, throwing their head back and curling up again, or are often very windy, with noises coming from their stomachs whilst they’re crying, it’s a pretty safe bet that your baby is suffering from colic.

mum feeding anti colic bottle to baby

If any of the above symptoms occur, take your baby to see your GP or health visitor as they will then be able to diagnose whether they have colic or whether it could be other issues such as food allergies or sensitivities in your diet if you are breastfeeding, discomfort such as if they are too hot or too cold, hunger or weakness, pain from an illness or injury or acid reflux.

It’s important to know when to call your doctor. If your baby cannot be soothed at all, even for a few minutes, doesn’t suck strongly at the bottle or breast, doesn’t want to be touched or held, has an unusual cry or sounds like they’re in pain, has diarrhea or blood in their stool, has trouble breathing, runs a fever of 100.4 or more, throws up or eats less than usual, it’s time to pick up the phone or head to your GP clinic.

It’s quite difficult to know exactly how to treat Colic, until the reason they have it is identified. You can lessen the chance of your baby developing it by using anti-colic bottles. To help soothe your baby there are a number of things you can do when they have colic:

  • Hold or cuddle your baby when they are crying
  • Sit or hold your baby upright whilst feeding to stop them swallowing air
  • Wind your baby after feeds
  • Gently rock your baby over your shoulder
  • Gently rock your baby in their Moses basket or crib or push them in their pram to encourage burps
  • Bathe your baby in warm water
  • Have some gentle white noise like the TV or radio on in the background to distract them
  • Keep feeding your baby as normal

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You can also buy some anti-colic drops and herbal probiotic supplements from high street pharmacies, make changes to your diet if you’re breastfeeding such as cutting out dairy or applying gentle pressure to your baby’s spine or skull (cranial osteopathy). You can take your newborn to an osteopath for this too.

Speak to your GP or health visitor if you have any doubts, queries or concerns about colic and how to soothe your baby.

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