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    Home ›› What is colic in babies? The symptoms and 10 colic remedies

    Home ›› What is colic in babies? The symptoms and 10 colic remedies

    What is colic in babies? The symptoms and 10 colic remedies


    Reading time: 5 mins

    Colic is a familiar term, but it’s often vaguely defined. So, you’re not alone if you’re left wondering, ‘what is colic in babies?’. Colic refers to extended periods of crying for no apparent reason. It isn’t dangerous, but it can be distressing. Colic is something that just happens; you haven’t done anything wrong.


    The good news is that colic will eventually go away on its own, although there are ways to comfort your baby in the meantime. In this article we will share key information about how to know if your baby has colic, including:


    • What causes colic in babies?
    • Signs of colic in babies.


    Additionally, we will explore 10 colic remedies including:


    1. Keeping an eye out for when your baby is full
    2. Lengthening the time between feeds
    3. Checking your diet
    4. Adjusting your burping technique
    5. Giving baby a tummy massage
    6. Trying gripe water
    7. Changing baby’s position
    8. Keeping baby moving
    9. Using a soother
    10. Swapping to anti-colic bottles


    So, let’s get started. Read on to discover everything you need to know about symptoms of colic in babies and how to help relieve their discomfort.


    Although we are here to offer advice and reassurance, always speak with your doctor if you have any worries or additional questions.

    What causes colic in babies?


    Colic is quite a common condition affecting 1 in 5 babies1 yet the exact cause of colic isn’t known. However, the belief is that there are two main answers when it comes to what is colic in babies:


    1. It’s sometimes associated with abdominal pain, as a sort of stomach cramp.
    2. It could be associated with trouble digesting, caused by the baby’s age or because of food allergies.


    If you believe that the colic is caused by food allergies, always consult with your GP before making any changes to their diet (or yours if you are breastfeeding).


    Because breast milk is specially designed for babies, many wonder if breastfed babies get colicky. The answer is yes – breastfed babies can get colicky – although formula-fed babies also get colicky.


    Tip: Before jumping to the conclusion that your baby has colic, it is worth noting that there are several other reasons why your baby may cry inconsolably; including a bad case of wind, a dirty nappy, boredom, or over-stimulation.

    How to know if your baby has colic


    There are a number of symptoms of colic in babies, but the clearest sign your baby might be suffering from colic is continuous, high-pitched crying for no obvious reason. The rule of 3s2 broadly categorises signs of colic in babies:


    1. Crying for more than 3 hours at a time.
    2. Crying 3 times a week or more.
    3. Crying up to 3 months of age.


    In addition to the rule of 3s, other signs of colic in babies include:


    • More frequent crying in the late afternoon or evening, sometimes after feeding.
    • Your baby’s face goes red, or your baby’s eyes roll up.
    • Your baby draws their legs to their tummy.
    • Your baby’s tummy feels hard.
    • Your baby lifts their head or legs and passes gas.
    • Your baby’s fists become clenched.

    What you need

    Colic remedies


    Colic will usually subside naturally within three months, but we know it can feel like longer when you’ve got a crying baby on your hands. If you want to ease your baby’s discomfort in the meantime, here are 9 simple colic remedies:


    • Keep an eye out for when your baby is full. As overfeeding can cause colic, it’s important to know when your baby is full, and stop feeding them. Some signs to look out for include:
      o    Turning their head away.
      o    Milk is dripping out of their mouth.
      o    Reluctant to latch onto the bottle nipple.
      o    Starts to move their arms and legs.
      o    Looking sleep or their body feels heavy and relaxed.
    • Create a longer window between feeds. If you’re currently feeding every one to two hours, try out a routine of feeding every three to four hours and see if it makes a difference.
    • Check your own diet. If you’re dealing with colic in breastfed babies, check your diet to see if you’re eating a lot of the following foods: broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts, cabbage, chocolate, cow’s milk, onions, citrus fruits, or tomatoes. These can all cause babies to be gassy or colicky. If you suspect a certain food, cut it out for a couple of days to see if there’s an effect.


    Tip: Remember, if you are considering cutting out any food groups entirely for the long term, such as dairy, it’s a good idea to get advice from a healthcare professional.


    • Adjust your burping technique. Try to get the gas out of your baby’s tummy before it has a chance to move through to the bowel. If your baby is a quick feeder you may need to burp more frequently. Hold your baby upright, either over your shoulder or sitting in your lap. Try firmly patting your baby’s back to encourage the bubbles up and out.
    • Give your baby a tummy massage. A gentle tummy massage can help relax your baby’s tense muscles (and can be especially effective after a warm bath).
    • Give gripe water a try. Gripe water is an old-fashioned remedy. While there is no hard evidence that it works, some moms do use it when their baby has a problem. It warms and relaxes the tummy and is said to have an antacid effect too. Gripe water is usually recommended for babies older than one month, but always remember to check the label before use.
    • Move your baby into a more comfortable position. Certain positions are soothing for a colicky baby, especially on the tummy. Lay your baby face down over your arm, head resting in the crook of your elbow, with your hand between your baby’s legs. You could also try lying your little one face down on your lap, head turned to the side, while gently moving your own legs side to side. Do make sure your baby is lying face-up once asleep.
    • Movement can offer some relief. A swing or vibrating chair can be a lifesaver if your baby is very unhappy in the evenings.
    • Give your baby a soother. Try a soother when your baby is difficult to comfort. If your baby does have pain, suckling will help.

    Anti-colic bottles as colic remedies


    If you’re bottle feeding, either fully or just occasionally, choosing the right bottle is as important as the milk you put inside. There are three main considerations to make when it comes to choosing which bottle to use, especially if you want to avoid the symptoms of colic in babies:


    1. Personal preference.
    2. Your baby's age.
    3. Your baby’s specific needs. For example, if you are concerned about colic, gas or reflux.


    Tip: Choosing a bottle with an anti-colic valve, which has been clinically proven to reduce colic, is a key way to help relieve the symptoms of colic in babies. The Philips Avent Anti-Colic with AirFree vent bottle can help to reduce air intake and tummy troubles.


    If you have combination feeding concerns, the Philips Avent Natural Bottle with Natural Response Nipple might be the right bottle for your little one. Here are five ways this bottle can help you with easy transitions between breast and bottle when you’re trying to steer clear of the signs of colic in babies:


    • The breast-shaped bottle nipple looks and works like the breast to provide a calm and comfortable feed for your baby.
    • Your baby can comfortably switch between breastfeeding and bottle feeding thanks to the intuitive bottle nipple opening and tip.
    • Milk is released from the bottle nipple only during active drinking, when triggered by your baby's natural tongue compression, like at the breast.
    • During each rest period, your baby can take time to pause, which in turn signals the bottle nipple to stop the milk flow without drips.
    • The unique technological advancements of this bottle nipple help support your baby's natural feeding rhythm to make combination feeding an effortless experience.


    Colic can be unsettling for both baby and parent, but the main thing to remember is that you’re doing great. With our guide we’ve helped you discover signs of colic in babies and simple colic remedies so you can rest easy knowing you can do your best for your baby to help relieve any discomfort and soothe their tears.


    These tips are designed to help put your mind at rest and give you some options for soothing your baby, but please be aware that the information does not substitute professional medical advice. Philips Avent cannot be held responsible for any damages that result from the use of the information provided on this website.

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