Colic is diagnosed when an infant is healthy and well fed yet cries in excess of three hours a day for more than three days a week. It is a harmless condition but is obviously very upsetting for parents and carers. It affects around 20% of babies and usually appears around 2 -4 weeks of age and can last for three months. There is much speculation around the causes, although experts agree there is not one universal cause that affects all babies. (BUPA health information sheet 2003).  However, one recent study found that many colicky babies had inflamed intestines, caused by food allergies. When the problem food was eliminated from the diet, the baby recovered almost immediately. For breastfeeding mums, this means also cutting the problem foods from her diet. The usual culprits are proteins from cow’s milk, soya or other troublesome foods. Mums can alter their diet and reintroduce foods one at a time to see if the problem food can be found. If you bottle-feed you may want to try a new formula (Lavin, Glaser, 2007).


If you suspect your baby may have a food allergy, you can work with your paediatrician to find the foods causing the reaction and eliminate them (Lavin, Glaser, 2007).  If your baby seems to have a lot of wind, make sure she is burped frequently. Babies who bottle feed may swallow air from the bottle. This can be reduced by feeding the baby in a different position or by trying a bottle that has been specially designed to reduce the amount of air swallowed.


To soothe babies with colic, the following techniques may be helpful:


• Carry the baby in a front sling or back pack
• Wrap baby snugly in a blanket (this is called swaddling)
• Keep the baby moving in a baby swing
• Place her near continuous noise or vibrations from household appliances like the
dishwasher, vacuum cleaner or washer-dryer
• Take her for a car ride or a walk outside
• Give her a dummy to suck on
• Give her tummy or back rubs
• Take a shower together – the warm water may be comforting


(Lavin, Glaser, 2007).


Medicines are not used to treat colic. However, medicines may help to relieve abdominal symptoms. It may be worth trying “colic drops” or “gripe water”, which are available without a prescription. A medicine called dimeticone (eg Infacol) is available to relieve trapped wind. Consult your doctor or the pharmacist first (BUPA’s Health Information
Team. 2003).




BUPA’s Health Information Team. “Colic.” Available from: (09/10/07)


A. Lavin, S Glasser (2007). “Baby & Toddler Sleep Solutions.” Wiley Publishing, Inc.


Comments (2)

March 31, 2008 - 11:49 am /

Any questions, opinions, advice, experiences etc. that you want to share, please do by leaving comments

April 23, 2008 - 7:17 pm /

My 1st child had colic for almost 4 months — almost literally 4 months of one continuous scream. We had weekly visits with our pediatrician and got 2nd & 3rd opinions. Nothing cured it (except time), but I wanted to comment that your suggestions for at least lessening the condition are spot on.

The only relief we found was (1) carrying her with her stomach almost resting on my shoulder (2) using a “bouncy seat,” which is basically a vibrating chair that keeps the child elevated to avoid reflux and gently massages her and (3) watching baby videos (not so much to teach her, but to keep some pleasant background noise going).

I found colic to be like the cliche about great running backs — you can’t stop them, you can only hope to contain them. I also think it’s important for parents to realize that they’re not superhumans, they’re not supposed to be superhumans, and they’re not bad parents for either trading off with their partners or, if alone, putting the child down for 5-10 minutes while they re-group. The last thing you want to do is lose your patience, and nothing will test your resolve than a endlessly screaming child. That initial love and empathy is alway there, but sheer exhaustion will allow frustration to creep in if you don’t give yourself a break every now and then. Plus, I think the child may feed off the frustration creating a vicious cycle, but I have no empirical evidence for that other than my own experience with a colicky child.

Sorry for the long comment, but this is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. FYI, that colicky child is now a super-smart, healthy 5-year old.

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