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Colic: Things Every Parent Must Know

Baby Health / May 17, 2022 / Vetted by Dr Sandip Gupta, MBBS, MD, FNB-PICU
A baby crying due to colic

An incessantly crying baby is the stuff of every parent’s nightmare. Sometimes, even your best efforts to console them simply don’t seem to help. Tummy colic is one of the most common reasons your baby is cranky. Let’s understand what colic really is and how you can relieve your little one of the discomfort.  


What is infantile or evening colic?

Naturally, all babies cry, but if your baby cries at least three times a week for three or more hours, for a week or more, there are high chances your baby has abdominal colic.
Crying spells may occur more commonly in the evenings, between 6 and 12 o’clock, when the day is generally over and you are already tired, but the good news is that this period lasts for a short while. It starts when the baby is around two to four weeks old and settles down by the time your cutie is about three or four months old. The duration of the colic also comes down to about an hour as the baby grows. If your baby is comparatively relaxed through the day and the colic settles down in a few hours, you have nothing to worry about.


Why does colic happen?

Nobody knows the exact reason behind evening colics. Some of the possible reasons for evening colic in newborns could be:

  • The child is overstimulated.
  • Your baby is feeding less or more than they need.
  • Discomfort due to indigestion or gas.
  • Sensitivity to breast milk or formula.
  • As elders in most households suggest, sensitivity to certain foods in the mother’s diet, such as caffeine, milk products, certain vegetables, or a protein-rich diet, may also cause colic in a breastfeeding baby.
  • Allergies to certain foods contained in the formula of a formula-fed baby.


    How to help soothe baby colic

    You can try these tips to soothe your baby’s colic:

    • Cuddle your baby when they cry to calm them down.
    • If you are breastfeeding, avoid foods like onions, caffeine, cabbage, spicy foods, broccoli, citrus fruits, cauliflower, milk products, or other items that may cause colic in your baby. 
    • If your baby is on formula feeding, try a different brand.
    • Give your baby a warm bath.
    • Turn on a piece of equipment that produces white noise, like a hairdryer or fan.
    • Take your baby for a walk or drive.
    • Try the colic carry position.
    • You may give your baby anti-colic drops or liquids. However, there is no major proof that these are effective.


      What is colic carry?

      A colic carry is a specific way to hold the baby that may provide them with some relief during the colic. Carry the baby with their belly on your extended arm and their hands and legs hanging on either side of your arm with their head supported by your hand. Use your other hand for support and walk around till the baby calms down.

      It is possible that your baby’s cries are not due to colic. As a parent, you need to ensure your baby is not crying due to some medical problem, such as a hernia. You should consult your doctor if your baby has any of the following symptoms:

      • Fever of 38 or 100.4 degrees Celsius
      • Sucking is not as strong from the breast or bottle during feeding.
      • Less alert or active than usual. 
      • Vomiting.
      • Weight loss or not gaining weight.
      • Not feeding well.
      • Blood in the stools or loose stools.
      • Your baby does not calm down, whatever you do.

      The constant crying of a baby can be really stressful for any parent. If you cannot cope, ask a close family member for help or consult your doctor for baby colic.




      1. HealthyChildren.org. Colic relief tips for parents [Internet]. [Updated on Jun 24, 2015]. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/crying-colic/Pages/Colic.aspx. Accessed on Nov. 12, 2020. 
      2. NHS. COLIC [Internet] [Updated on Nov. 9, 2018]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/colic/. Accessed on Nov. 12, 2020. 
      3. FamilyDoctor.org. Colic [Internet]. [Updated on Oct. 14, 2020]. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/colic/. Accessed on Nov. 12, 2020. 
      4. Mount Sinai Infantile colic [Internet]. Available at: https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/condition/infantile-colic. Accessed on Nov. 12, 2020. 
      5. HealthyChildren.org. Tips for grandparents of a newborn [Internet] [Updated on Sep 23, 2015]. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/Pages/Tips-for-Grandparents-of-a-Newborn.aspx. Accessed on Nov. 26, 2020. 
      6. Kids Health. Colic [Internet] [Updated on Nov. 2019]. Available at: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/colic.html. Accessed on Nov. 4, 2020. 


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