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Colic in Babies

Colic is a common concern among parents of newborns, causing distress and frustration for both babies and caregivers. Understanding what colic is and how to manage it can help alleviate stress and provide relief for everyone involved.  


What is Colic? 

Colic is defined as excessive, inconsolable crying in an otherwise healthy and well-fed infant, typically beginning within the first few weeks of life and peaking around 6 to 8 weeks (about 2 months). Colic episodes often occur in the late afternoon or evening and can last for several hours at a time, persisting for weeks or even months before gradually improving on their own. While colic is not harmful to a baby’s health, it can be emotionally exhausting for parents and caregivers. 


Causes of Colic: 

The exact cause of colic remains unknown, but several factors may contribute to its development. These include: 

  • Gastrointestinal discomfort: Some experts believe that colic may be related to gastrointestinal issues, such as gas, reflux, or immature digestive systems, causing discomfort and pain in babies. 
  • Overstimulation: Babies may become overwhelmed by their environment, particularly in the evening when stimulation levels are high, leading to heightened irritability and crying. 
  • Developmental changes: Colic may coincide with developmental milestones, such as increased sensitivity to stimuli or changes in sleep patterns, which can contribute to fussiness and crying. 
  • Parental stress: Research suggests that parental stress and anxiety may exacerbate colic symptoms, creating a cycle of tension and distress for both baby and caregiver. 


Symptoms of Colic: 

Recognizing the signs of colic can help parents differentiate between normal crying and colic episodes. Common symptoms of colic include: 

  • Intense, inconsolable crying that lasts for several hours 
  • Clenched fists, tensed abdominal muscles, and flushed face during crying episodes 
  • Difficulty soothing or comforting the baby, despite trying various calming techniques
  • Increased crying in the late afternoon or evening, often without an apparent trigger
  • Poor feeding or feeding difficulties, such as frequent spit-ups or arching of the back during feeds


Strategies for Parents to Cope with Colic: 

While colic can be challenging to manage, there are several strategies that parents can try to help soothe their baby and alleviate symptoms. These include: 

  • Gentle soothing techniques: Holding, rocking, swaddling, or using gentle motion (such as swinging or rocking in a baby swing) can provide comfort and help calm a fussy baby. 
  • White noise or music: Playing soothing sounds, such as white noise machines, lullabies, or nature sounds, may help distract and soothe a colicky baby. 
  • Infant massage: Gentle massage techniques can promote relaxation and comfort in babies, helping to ease colic symptoms and promote better sleep. 
  • Changes in feeding habits: If breastfeeding, adjusting the mother’s diet or feeding position may help alleviate colic symptoms. For formula-fed babies, trying diverse types of formula or feeding techniques may be beneficial. 
  • Creating a calming environment: Minimizing stimulation, dimming lights, and creating a quiet, soothing atmosphere can help reduce overstimulation and promote relaxation for both baby and parents. 


Colic is a common condition that affects many newborns, causing distress and frustration for parents. While the exact cause of colic remains unclear, understanding its potential triggers and implementing effective coping strategies can help parents navigate this challenging period with greater ease. By providing comfort, support, and patience to their colicky babies, parents can help soothe their little ones and promote a sense of calm and well-being for the entire family. 

 If you have questions about your newborn, please contact one of our board-certified clinicians at (855) 576-8745 or book a telehealth visit

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