Managing Colic in New Borns and its Causes - Health Education - DesiMD Healthcare - India
Health Education

Managing Colic in New Borns

Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi profile Authored by Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi on 21 Jul 2014 - 16:10.


Colic is not a disease but a symptom exhibiting uncontrollable crying in an otherwise healthy baby. A child with colic exhibits discomfort and indicating it by extending or pulling the legs and can even pass gas. The crying and discomfort may be present at any time but is most common between sunset and midnight.

If your baby is under five months old and is continuously crying for more than three hours a day, on more than three days in a week, for at least a fortnight or more and there is no explanation for this distress medically, chances are that your child is colicky.

Mothers when faced with such a problem in their young infants should not get panicky. They should know that about 20 percent of all babies between 2 and 4 weeks become colicky. The malady is not common in first born babies, though encountered in children born later as well. Both breastfed and formula-fed babies are susceptible to this condition. The good news for the mothers is that thankfully, colic doesn’t last forever and 60 percent of the babies will be through the worst of the problem by 3 months and 90 percent get better by 4 months of age.

Causes: The cause for this common condition in the life of a young infant is still unknown and is mysterious. It is not known why some babies get colic more often and some less often while some don’t get it at all. There are many theories put forth to explain the cause of colic. One of the reasons could be that some babies have a very sensitive or immature digestive system than others.

The digestive system in a newborn baby has very few enzymes and digestive juices required to breakdown food. This explains the presence of gas when the protein in the breast milk is processed. The very act of screaming itself can cause the baby to swallow a lot of air leading to gassiness. It is believed that the developing nervous system cannot identify all the signals from a crying child and therefore it is difficult to pinpoint why a child continues to cry during colic. By the time the sun sets the playful child cannot manage sounds or sensations around the child and displays the discomfort by crying.

In some infants particularly if breastfed, infection may reach the infant through the breast milk leading to colic. This is possible when something in the mother’s diet is irritating the young infant on breast-feeding. Mothers who breastfeed their babies should preferably avoid having milk, cheese and yogurt on a trial basis to ascertain if the child is developing colic. If yes, stop using them in your diet. However, ice-cream eaten by mothers may not harm the infant.

Some breastfed babies seem to be victims of colic if the mother eats lot of spicy food, wheat products, nuts, strawberries, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, caffeine and alcohol. To confirm if any of these items are troubling the breastfed child, avoid all of them in your diet for few days and slowly but gradually watch for colic by trial and error, re-introducing each item to confirm which item is the culprit. If you notice that your child starts fussing after re-introducing a particular item in your diet, stop eating it till the baby outgrows the sensitivity in about 3 months.

If your child is formula-fed keep trying different formulations till you find the one which is least troublesome to the child. Of utmost importance, regardless of which milk you feed the child (breast or formula) make sure the child burps during and after feedings.

Keeping the colic infant happy:

A mother can do a lot more to keep her colicky infant happy and playful. The mother can gently cajole the child and fondle him with love. While being aware that no single trick works every day in every child, some important tips to keep the child calm and quiet are:

  • Give your baby a pacifier. This works sometimes.
  • Put the child in a rocking chair and keep rocking it. The child may stop crying.
  • Place your baby on your knees, tummy down and gently rub the back which might help relieve some of the pressure in the stomach of the young infant.
  • Pick you baby, walk around, talk to him, sing lullabies and cuddle him.
  • You can put the child in a car if you have one. The running of the car might soothe him.
  • Carry your baby with you and the child who likes to be in motion may respond and stop crying.
  • Change the atmosphere and surroundings by taking him in a stroller and its movements may soothe him. In most cases the crying child may fall asleep with the rhythmic motions of the stroller.
  • If you have a car you can take him for a long ride and the child invariably goes to sleep.
  • Even if your baby is crying piteously despite having his feeds, burps and change of diaper just put him in the crib and take a break.
  • Having a little break will help you maintain your composure and cool your nerves.
  • It is essential for both the partners to co-operate or hire an understanding baby- sitter if both are office going.
  • Always remember to stay away from prescription remedies for Colic like antispasmodics and sedatives which may prove dangerous to the child.


*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.