Let's learn about Colic...

You bring home your newborn baby and for the first few weeks you’re amazed at how smoothly everything is going. Being a new parent is a blissful time, filled with love, laughter (and adorable moments!). 

Then one day, something strange occurs. Your little one erupts into ear-shattering cries with clenched fists, bunched up legs and a very unhappy red face. No matter what you try, you can’t comfort your baby! And that’s not all: this whole stressful routine seems to be repeated every night! 

Yep. We’ve been there, KendaFam. It seems your little one has the case of the colic. 😫 Rest assured: at Kendamil, we're here to help. That's why we're covering all the ways you can help to ease those colicky symptoms and get some well-deserved rest (for you and your baby!).

🤔 What is Colic?

The reality is that all babies cry; it’s their only way of communicating their needs to you. And as parents, we’re biologically programmed to respond to these cries to meet our baby’s needs. However, for a baby with colic, the crying starts suddenly for no apparent reason and it seems to have no cure!

Colic is not a disease but more a combination of confusing behaviours – no researcher has ever been able to identify the true cause of colic. It’s really just a term for ‘problem crying’ in healthy babies. These fussy periods can go on for hours at a time, sometimes late into the night. Worst of all, try as you might, it’s extremely difficult to calm a colicky baby, which only compounds your own frustration, worry and exhaustion!

Doctors usually diagnose colic based on the rule of three:

  1. Your baby’s crying lasts at least three hours at a stretch! 😭
  2. The crying occurs at least three days a week! 😓
  3. The crying persists for at least three weeks in a row! 😫

Of course, some babies with colic go way above that, wailing for many more hours, days and even weeks at a time.

👶 When does Colic Start and End?

The good news is that colic doesn’t last forever. Yay!

Most bouts start when your baby is about 2 to 3 weeks old (later in premature babies) and it usually peaks at around 6 weeks and then typically stops by 10 to 12 weeks of age. By 3 months most colicky babies seem to be miraculously cured. The colic may stop suddenly — or end gradually, with some good and some bad days, until they are all good.

In the meantime, a little knowledge and a lot of patience will help you survive until the storm subsides. You got this, KendaFam!!

⚠️ Signs and Symptoms of Colic

How do you know for sure if your baby has colic? According to NHS guidelines, here are a few further colic signs and symptoms:

  • Crying occurs at the same time every day (usually in the late afternoon or early evening, but it can vary).
  • Crying seems to occur for no reason (not because your little one has a dirty nappy or is hungry or tired, for example).
  • Your baby may pull up their legs, clench their fists and generally move their legs and arms more.
  • They will often close their eyes or open them very wide, furrow their brows, or even hold their breath,
  • Bowel activity may increase, and your little one may pass wind or bring a feed back up.
  • Eating and sleeping are disrupted by the crying — your baby may frantically seek a nipple or teat only to reject it once sucking has begun.

🤨 What Causes Colic?

While the exact cause of colic is unknown, experts do know it’s not the result of genetics or anything that happened during pregnancy or childbirth. Nor is it any reflection on parenting skills and, most importantly (remember this one, KendaParents) It. Isn’t. Anyone’s. Fault!!!

Here are some theories on possible causes of colic:

  • Overstimulated senses. Newborns have a built-in mechanism for tuning out sights and sounds around them, which allows them to sleep and eat without being disturbed by their environment. Near the end of the first month after birth, mechanism disappears, leaving babies more sensitive to the stimuli in their surroundings. 
  • An immature digestive system. Digesting food is a big task for a baby’s brand new gastrointestinal system. As a result, food may pass through too quickly and not break down completely, resulting in pain from gas in the intestines.
  • Reflux. Research has found that reflux is sometimes a colic trigger and the two often intertwine in their symptoms. Reflux is often the result of an underdeveloped lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle that keeps stomach acid from flowing back up into the throat and mouth, which can irritate the oesophagus. Symptoms include frequently bringing up a feed, poor feeding and irritability during and after feeds. The good news is, most babies outgrow reflux by 12 months!

😍 Possible Remedies

In addition to frustration and exhaustion, you may experience feelings of inadequacy and guilt as you try to calm and soothe your fussy baby. It’s important to remember that you’re doing your best and not to compare yourself with other parents. Every baby is different and you will get through this. Trust us. We got through it and lived to tell the tale!

In the meantime, alongside talking to your healthcare provider or pediatrician, these ✨soothing strategies✨ may help ease your baby, until the colic passes. Try giving each remedy a fair shot before you switch to another (and don’t pull out too many tricks at one time!).

✔️💬 Respond. Crying is a baby’s only way of communicating their needs. But it’s also their ONLY way of having any control at all over the new environment. Responding to your baby when they cry can calm them down.

✔️🤫 Reduce Visitors. Limit visitors and try to voice exposing your baby to new experiences in stimulating environments, particularly in the late afternoon and early evening. Watch how your baby responds to certain stimuli — and steer clear of any that seem to cause issues.

✔️🧘🏽 Create calm. Trying to make your baby's environment peaceful might help. Dim the lights, speak or sing in soothing tones (or don’t speak at all) and keep other noise and distractions to a minimum. Check out our White Noise playlist for some additional help!

✔️🤚 Place light abdominal pressure. Some colicky babies find relief when pressure is placed on the abdomen. So, place your baby face-down on your lap or upright with his tummy against your shoulder, or try the “colic carry,” where your little one lies face-down with his belly resting on your arm. Then gently rub or pat his back as you hold your little munchkin.

✔️😮‍💨 Try burping your baby. If your baby’s inconsolable fussing is due to wind, sometimes burping him will help relieve the pain. Trying different positions such as putting your little one on your shoulder, cycling their legs or laying them over your lap to burp can help.

✔️💧Ask about colic drops. Studies show that reducing wind may reduce the discomfort (and crying). Ask your health visitor about trying colic drops.

✔️🍲 Watch what you eat. If you’re breastfeeding, talk to your health visitor about whether you should try temporarily eliminating any foods from your diet that can cause tummy troubles, such as cruciferous veggies (cabbage, cauliflower), acidic citrus fruits ,or allergenic foods (dairy, soy, wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish).

✔️🍼 Ask about switching formulas. For some formula-fed babies, switching the formula may help to alleviate the problem. 

💙 Moral of the story? You got this KendaFam! 💙

Colic can be a frustrating thing to deal with. But with some patience, guidance and advice from your healthcare provider, we guarantee your baby will be happy, healthy and calm in no time. Chin up, KendaFam. You got this!!  

For extra help and support, check out our blogs!

Need some personalised parenting support? Our Customer Support Team are mums and dads.

Our customer support team of mums and dads have helped thousands of parents. We’re here for you.

<Connect with a parent>

Important Notice: Breastfeeding is best. Kendamil Follow-on milk is only for babies over 6 months, and should be used as part of a mixed diet. Please talk to your Healthcare Professional.

More from the blog