Any baby can have colic.
Colic most often becomes evident when a baby is 2–5 weeks old and usually eases by the time the baby is 3–4 months old.
What are some of the common signs of colic?
- Excessive crying
- Knees pulling up, squirming after feeds
- Fussy and irregular feeds, pulling off the breast or bottle frequently
- Generally unsettled & clingy
- Wakes screaming
- Visibly uncomfortable & distressed
- Farting A LOT
- Only wants to sleep upright e.g. pram or in the carrier and miserable when lying flat
What causes colic?
- Some babies have an immature gut that can’t process elements of milk - be it formula or breastmilk
- Some big 2-week-old babies drink the same volume as a 3-month-old, and their little stomachs just can’t process the sheer volume
- Some mums have incredibly quick let-downs and babies guzzle down the milk… and gulp more air
- Poor attachment to the breast or bottle can lead to increased air getting in during feeds
What to do if you think your baby has colic?
- Burps, burps & more burps - teach everyone in your family the @DrGolly active winding technique (it's in the program). Any time the baby isn't feeding, you can be burping them
- Use the active winding technique for 15min after each feeding period
- Cycling legs to remain calm when lying flat
- Regular tummy-time to strengthen their neck - the quicker they can crawl/sit-up the easier it will be to burp them & get that trapped wind out
- If you’re breastfeeding, be aware of your diet - if you’re drinking/eating a lot of cow’s milk, legumes, ruffage, cured meats, fermented products this could upset your baby - remember stuff that makes you gassy will make your baby gassy
- If you’re breastfeeding, be aware of caffeine as this can cause unsettled behaviour (I hate saying this, because breastfeeding a newborn is one of the most exhausting jobs out there… & mums need their coffee! Absolutely enjoy this ritual but be mindful of consumption - see my blog on this topic for more info).
- Check for all other causes that could be upsetting your baby e.g. too hot/cold, itchy clothing tag, uncontrolled eczema, overtired, undertired etc etc.
- Watch for food intolerances - this is not uncommon in breastfed babies, mucus in the poo is a sign your baby is intolerant to something (we will discuss this more in future posts)
- If you have completed steps 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8 and your baby is still uncomfortable/unsettled it may be time to talk to your GP or paediatrician.
- Medication should be your last step not your first.
- Colic mixes won't fix colic, it will simply make your baby easier to burp and expel trapped wind - your family will need to be fastidious about BURPING!
- I'm a paediatrician and can't give medical advice over social media/email, if you think your baby has severe colic - you’ll need to talk to your GP or paediatrician and work through what is happening
- I also can't recommend pharmaceuticals over social media or email - there are lots of colic mixes out there - again you’ll need to see your GP or paediatrician about whether a) your baby needs this & b) which colic mix is the right one for your baby - be sure to discuss possible side effects too
- If you’re talking to your GP or paediatrician, be open to the idea that colic may not be the problem that is making your baby unsettled - always describe the symptoms your baby has to your healthcare professional
- Caring for a colicky baby can be hard. If your baby won't stop crying & you’re not coping: call a friend or family member for support, or to take care of the baby while you take a well-deserved break
- Until you resolve the trapped wind/pain, they are probably going to be unsettled. Colicky babies will rarely sleep in a cot and have trouble linking sleep cycles. Allow for contact naps in the carrier, pram or car until you have the trapped wind under control.
- Colic does NOT mean you have to have an unhappy, unsettled baby that cries all the time - the articles on Colic that say there is no cure and some babies just cry – these are WRONG!
Just look at Frances! She had colic, but is now well-fed, well-burped and sleeps like a little angel.
Colic has causes and solutions 💫