What is baby colic and how to help your baby settle

What is baby colic and how to help your baby settle

It’s normal for babies to cry for no obvious reason, but when is it too much? According to the NHS, when a baby cries more than 3 hours a day, 3 days a week for at least a week, it can be due to colic.*

Causes of colic

The causes of colic are unknown, no one can say what it is exactly that bothers your little one. Some explain it as an indigestion, bloating, stomach aches and cramps. Often you can also read about overstimulation and your little one’s brain trying to process what they experienced during the day.

It usually affects babies when their a few weeks old and lasts until around 6 months of age.

It’s typical for the colicky behaviour to start later in the afternoon or in the evening.

Signs to watch out for, other than crying for no apparent reason

  • Unsettled, fussy baby that is hard to sooth
  • Predictable timing (usually in the afternoon and evening)
  • Change of colour in their face (turning red)
  • Bodily tension – clenched fists, arched back, tense stomach, bend knees to their tummy
  • Frequent wind passing

How to soothe and comfort a baby with colic

Colic will usually improve gradually over weeks and months as your baby grows, for most babies it disappears when they reach the age of around 6 months, but as a mum myself, I know how distressing it is to see your baby cry and be uncomfortable for no obvious reason and being left with no clear answers on how to help them to feel calm and comfortable.

Baby with a colic heating pad

A few things your can try to soothe your baby are:

  • Holding and rocking your baby gently, walking around with your baby
  • Holding your baby upright during and after feeding to help reduce the amount of air they swallow and burp your baby during and after feeding
  • Taking your baby for a walk in a pram
  • Using subtle white noise to distract them (you can even try TV or radio)
  • Giving your baby a warm bath or applying a baby safe warming pad onto baby’s tummy to relieve muscle tension and stomach cramps
  • Trying anti-colic drops from pharmacy or finding a cranial osteopath (although there is a little evidence these work, there are parents who saw an improvement)

Mr B anti-colic toy

This article is informative, if you are concerned about your baby’s cry, call the NHS 111 line or see a GP.


* NHS website (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/colic/) 

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