Colicky Baby: All You Need to Know

Team Peanut6 months ago5 min read

Babies cry. That’s how they express hunger, pain, distress, even excitement. Really, it’s the only way they have to express anything… Which you’ve probably noticed (sigh).

Crying baby

However, if they’re crying a lot, at regular times every day, and for no apparent reason, you might have something different on your hands.

Mama, your baby might be colicky. It can be stressful, it can be tough, and it can be a little heartbreaking. But it’ll pass! Here’s what you need to know about colicky babies.

Table of Contents 📝

  • What is colicky?
  • How can you tell if your baby has colic?
  • What causes colic?
  • How do you treat colic in babies?

What is colicky?

Colicky is the word we use to describe babies with colic. Simply, that’s a condition characterized by intense, frequent crying, discomfort, and fussiness in babies. Colic can be difficult and frustrating for parents because colicky babies can often be tough to soothe.

Why colic happens is still not quite clear (more on that later). But a colicky baby is not necessarily an unhealthy baby. That’s important. Sometimes, colic just happens.

Usually, colic tends to peak at around 6 weeks of age and will likely disappear soon after 3 or 4 months.

How can you tell if your baby has colic?

Colic is usually characterized by frequent and intense bouts of crying. However, it’s not just any old crying. A colicky baby will usually show some of the following signs:

  • Crying that seems like screaming or an expression of pain
  • Crying with no apparent cause
  • Regular crying – often at roughly the same time every day (usually in the evening)
  • More high-pitched and louder crying
  • Tension of the body: clenched fists, stiff arms, arched back
  • A red face
  • Little response to soothing
  • Fussiness even after crying

If you feel like your little one is showing some of these symptoms, book an appointment with a doctor. They’ll be able to tell you if your baby has colic or something different entirely.

One of the ways your doctor will diagnose baby colic is through the so-called “rule of three.” That means your baby is crying for 3 hours a day, 3 or more days a week, for 3 or more weeks. So, keep an eye out for this. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but it can give you a clearer picture of what you’re dealing with.

And another important thing to know: Sometimes babies feel better after passing gas or pooping.

What causes colic?

Doctors are still not sure about the precise cause of colic in babies. But we know that it’s probably something to do with abdominal pain or stress.

So far, some possible causes that have been investigated include:

  • An immature digestive system. Baby’s all brand new. Sometimes this means that not everything works as well as it will later in life. A digestive system that isn’t fully developed might be less able to digest food. And the extra gas can be a little uncomfortable.
  • Allergies or sensitivities. Some docs think baby colic can be the result of sensitivity to dairy or other foods in the mama’s diet. This can set off a sensitive baby tummy.
  • Tobacco. Some studies have suggested that mamas who smoke are more likely to have colicky babies.
  • Baby migraine or childhood stress? Different interpretations have suggested that colic has less to do with digestion than stress, headaches, or oversensitivity to stimulation.

How do you treat colic in babies?

What can you do for a colicky baby? The conventional wisdom is that there’s not much apart from letting it pass.

However, if the little angel is in the middle of a screaming fit, there are things that can help make them feel better (even if the colic doesn’t go away entirely).

  • Create a calm environment. If colic’s a matter of overstimulation, keeping things monotonous may help ease the tears. A quiet, calm room may help. On the other hand, something loud like a vacuum or a white noise machine can also calm the baby by blocking out other noises.
  • Try burping your baby. Passing gas (from either end) can help for a colicky baby.
  • Watch what they eat (and you, too). You can switch up their baby formula if you suspect that they might be responding badly. Or, if you’re breastfeeding, keep your diet free from possible allergens.
  • Rock or walk them. Distraction or movement can help. The close contact and motion can relax them.
  • If nothing works, talk to your doctor. They can suggest something that is right for you.

How to deal with a colicky baby?

The thing about colic is that it is not just a trial for the baby. It can be tough on mamas, too. Seriously. Babies with colic tend to be associated with mamas with postpartum depression. So, to ensure that your mental health doesn’t suffer, it’s worth finding some ways to manage this tricky part of babyhood.

Here are some things that can help.

  • Take a break. Don’t feel bad if you need to put your crying baby down in their crib for 5 or 10 minutes and leave the room. A small break can give you the energy to face the music once more.
  • Call in some support. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Maybe you have a friend or family member who can take the baby for an hour?
  • Talk about it. Colicky babies can be tough. Reach out to the mamas of Peanut for support, advice, or a good old rant.
  • Contact a professional. There is help out there. A session with a therapist (even over the phone or online) can help you deal with the stress.

It will pass, mama. But remember, you’re doing a great job!