Baby Colic

The Colic Club

We know how precious your baby is – and that you are completely responsible for her care and well-being – which can seem overwhelming at times, especially if your baby is a constant crier.

But we also know your baby is strong and resilient. Looks can be deceiving!

She’s built to withstand new parents …

but until she learns to speak, it’s her cry which lets you know when she is hungry, or in pain, or wet, tired, needing a cuddle or just bored.

Sometimes it’s easy to work out why your baby is crying, other times it’s not. But if your baby cries excessively and inconsolably for more than three hours at a time, yet appears otherwise perfectly healthy, there’s a strong chance she has colic.

Welcome to the colic club!

Colic Baby Crying

The rule of threes

Colic is characterised by crying bouts that start when your baby is around three weeks old and usually late in the day, although they can occur anytime.

The crying lasts for more than three hours a day, on more than three days a week, for more than three weeks in a row.

Sound like your baby? Then don’t despair!

Colic usually peaks at around six to eight weeks … and it normally stops by four months (or by six months at the latest). But those months are tough – looking after a colicky baby can be very frustrating and distressing.

Baby Crying in Colic Pain

Crying doesn’t harm your baby ...

but we know how very difficult it is to see your baby in distress. While that’s what colic looks like, it isn’t harmful.

If your baby has colic then her face may become flushed, she may clench her fists, draw her knees up to her tummy or arch her back.

But remember, the crying outbursts are not harmful and your baby will continue to feed and gain weight normally. There’s no clear evidence that colic has any long-term effects on a baby’s health.

Colic Baby

What causes colic?

The causes of colic are unknown, but there are a number of theories including indigestion, trapped wind, or a temporary gut sensitivity to certain proteins and sugars found in breast and formula milk.

And to make you feel more frustrated, there’s a theory that colic may just be at the extreme end of normal crying in babies.

Colic occurs equally in boys and girls, and both in babies who are breastfed and those who are bottle-fed.

Baby Crying Because of Colic

How can I help my baby?

Babies with colic usually don’t have any underlying medical condition. However, you should see your doctor if your baby cries excessively. This is so your doctor can rule out conditions such as eczema or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).

Different babies respond to different methods of being comforted, so you may have to see what works best for you.

But if you feel you are not coping with your baby’s crying, then it’s okay to put your baby down somewhere safe and take a few minutes’ time out.

Try holding your baby in different positions, such as on your shoulder or cradled in your arms or lying with her tummy facing down along your forearm.

Put on some background noise, like a vacuum cleaner or dishwasher. Some babies find the white noise soothing.

Some women find too much tea, coffee and other caffeine drinks can aggravate colic if they’re breastfeeding … and some have found spicy food and alcohol wreak their own kind of havoc.

Moving can help soothe your baby so pushing her in a pram or taking her for a drive might help calm her. You could also try carrying her around the house in a baby swaddle.

Anti Colic Feeding Bottle

Anti-colic bottles

Use a fast-flow teat if you’re bottle feeding – holes in bottle teats that are too small may cause your baby to swallow air as she feeds. And sit or hold your baby upright while feeding as this will also help prevent her swallowing air.

The MAM self-sterilising anti-colic bottle reduces incidents of colic in 80% of cases (source: market research 2009, tested with 131 mothers).

Its bottom valve ensures that babies don’t swallow any air while drinking.

The ventilation holes in the base regulate the pressure balance so the milk can flow evenly – without bubbles and without foaming.

Baby Crying Because of Colic

She won’t stop crying!

Caring for a baby with colic can be very difficult for parents, particularly first-time parents.

But try to remember that your baby’s colic is not your fault.

It doesn’t mean your baby is unwell, you’re doing something wrong, or your baby is rejecting you.

Your baby will get better eventually – colic normally stops before they’re four to six months old.

Looking after you

Your baby is finely tuned to respond to your moods and emotional state, so it’s important to remember your own needs too.

All parents need a break … and even a short rest on your own can give you the energy to cope better with the situation.

So it’s crucial to ask your friends and family for help. If you can, try to rest when your baby is asleep.

And mothers’ group is a great place to share stories and advice … you’ll be surprised by how similar the experiences are and how comforting and reassuring that bond with other mothers can be. Remember, you’re not alone.