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Colic in babies

Colic in babies

What is colic?

Colic is a severe, often fluctuating pain in your baby’s abdomen and it affects anywhere between 10%-40% of babies around the world.
Despite what you may hear, there’s actually no difference between boys or girls, nor between breastfed or formula-fed babies getting colic. The cause of colic is unknown. It can be very upsetting for parents when their baby has colic as it’s hard to see your baby crying so intensely, and it can seem like your baby is in pain.

Signs of colic:

  • At least 3 hours of crying for at least 3 days a week, for at least three weeks in a row.
  • Restlessness
  • Drawing their legs up, arching their back or clenching their fists
  • Going red in the face

What you can do to help

While there is no treatment for colic, different things will help different babies. As you get to know your baby, you will learn what works for you. Try some of the following tips and you can work out what helps your baby with colic:

  • Wind your baby after they feed
  • Put your baby in a wearable carrier
  • Swaddle your baby in a blanket or swaddling wrap
  • Sit your baby upright during feeds
  • A warm bath
  • Gently massaging your baby’s tummy before they are likely to cry may help. Do this in a circular motion, but do not massage after a feed.
  • Movement and motion, for example, a walk in the buggy or pram, or a car journey.
  • Music

Be careful about using complementary therapies like herbal remedies. These have not been proven to work and some have been shown to cause serious side effects.

It’s time to see your GP if:

  • You are not sure if your baby has colic or why they are crying
  • They are vomiting bile (green stuff) or projectile vomiting
  • They have bloody poo
  • They aren’t feeding well
  • They are neither losing or gaining weight
  • They have a temperature greater than 38 C
  • If you are finding it hard to cope