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Understanding Colic

I'm sure as a new parent you have heard someone say to you that they think your baby has Colic due to periods of intense crying and you not being able to calm your baby. As a new parent you have most likely felt inadequate in being able to calm your baby and possibly even blame yourself for your baby's Colicky episodes but you couldn't be further from the truth. Your inexperience and your tension around baby at this time, is not causing your baby's pain and you are quite rightly allowed to feel distressed for you baby's discomfort. Take a breathe and read on to further understand from your baby's perspective what's going on here. What is Colic really & what does current evidence say?

Spoiler - "There is no magic treatment for all symptoms for all babies" - but lets better understand Colic first that are backed by current evidence. Not old opinions.

Stay with me....

Infantile colic was first described in 1954 by Dr Wessel, who defined colic as extreme crying for at least 3hrs per day, on at least 3 days a week, for 3 weeks. OK, well that's great that we know who discovered it and what the definition is but this discovery came with no understanding of the possible location of the pain or place of stress for the baby. In a more recent definition, ROME III criteria which is based of gastro-intestinal conditions, says that that infantile colic is the "spasmodic contraction of the smooth muscles of the intestine". We as parents have known this is the possible location for our baby's pain but what else impacts on the intestines and contributes to this crying/unsettled behaviour?

Colic or Colicky Behaviour is a symptom not a diagnosis of a condition. To manage Colic is to first understand the cause of the symptom. When I talk to parents about "colicky behaviour" they explain intense and unexplained crying, reddened faced baby, baby's knees pulled up, baby back arching and fists clinched. No amount of picking up, rocking, shushing, patting and/or feeding, feels like it does anything to reduce the crying and ultimately for baby to settle to sleep. Sound familiar? Research indicates that around 30% of all infants from 2wks up to 3-4mths of age have colicky behaviour episodes, more often in the later part of the day/evening and are more common in households where there is a smoke and/or the baby is formula fed but less common in exclusively breastfed babies (this leads me to think that for a BF baby the symptom is less likely to be directly intestinal - more on that later). So what are some of the causes of Colic that research has highlighted?

Causes -

  • Trapped Gas

  • Overfeeding via Bottle

  • Microbial Dysbiosis

  • Allergy

  • Heightened Stress Response Or/&

  • Lactose Overload - or combination of some or many of these.

It's really important to try to see this from the baby's perspective and know that Colic behaviours are nothing to do with the way you are caring for your baby.

I have written an eBook "The Essential Baby Colic Relief Guide"

How to provide relief from colic without hours of crying.

Understand the 6 causes of baby colic with practical strategies to provide relief to your colicky baby.


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