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Baby Colic: Common symptoms to look out for

If your baby is feeling greatly disturbed and uncomfortable, you’d be the first one to know. Here are some symptoms for colic in babies, with easy remedies to relieve your baby!

Does your newborn cry a lot? Most times, crying shouldn’t be a cause for concern among new parents. It is normal for a newborn baby to cry for up to 2 hours in a day. Crying is the only way of communication for babies for the first few months of their lives. Babies cry for different reasons; they might be hungry, feeling cold or need a diaper change. If your baby is crying even after being fed, cleaned up or doing it more than usual, it might be a symptom of baby colic.

Also read our blog on The 6 Best Indian Home Remedies for Teething Toddlers

What is baby colic?

Colic is an abdominal pain in infants which manifests suddenly and lasts for long periods of time. 1 in 5 newborns are estimated to be affected with this pain during their initial months. Colic pain is usually said to occur during the evenings and is often followed into the night. It starts within two or three weeks of birth and stops by the third month, but in some cases, it might last longer. An infant is often inconsolable during an episode of colic which can cause distress for the baby and parents alike.

Symptoms of baby colic

The following are some common symptoms seen in babies affected by colic:

1. Crying without any reason:

If your baby is crying even after being well fed, cared for and cleaned, it might be one of the first signs of colic.

2. Bloated stomach:

Infants can have bloated stomachs due to gas but if it persists, it might be another indication of colic.

3. Disturbed sleep:

Babies typically sleep in 2-3 hour windows till about 5-6 months, when they sleep for 6-8 hrs at a stretch. Newborns sleep for up to 17 hours a day during the first few months. Any changes to this sleeping routine can be a symptom of colic. If your baby is sleeping for an unusually long time, this can also be a sign.


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4. Posture:

Fists tightly clenched, an arched back and tight abdomen are some of the indications with respect to posture in babies suffering from colic.

5. Pointing towards the belly:

Bending hands and legs towards the belly is another indication of pain by an infant.

6. Weakness:

If your baby is unusually weak or doesn’t suck strongly, this can be considered as a sign.

Symptoms of colic in breastfed babies:

  1. When a baby is breastfed it is common for the infant to gulp in air along with milk which tends to cause gas and pain in the stomach for babies. This is one of the common symptoms of colic in breastfed babies.
  2. An imbalance in foremilk and hindmilk can cause discomfort and pain to an infant. When there is an oversupply of breastmilk, an infant tends to fill the stomach with foremilk which is thinner and not as creamy as the hindmilk. When this happens, your baby tends to have excess gas and loose bowels.
  3. The mother’s diet is very essential for the child because the food intake of the mother is directly related to the breast milk which the child is fed. In many cases, the infants might be allergic to certain types of food which, if eaten by the mother, tends to affect the infant. A common allergy is milk and dairy products consumed by the mother which often leads to colic in the baby.

Remedies to calm an infant with colic:

The exact reason or cause behind colic pain in babies is still a mystery, however, there are a few tips and remedies to help calm the infant down.

1. Diet:

If your infant has colic pain, try eliminating dairy products to check if the crying and discomfort has reduced. Often nuts, shellfish and, even soy, are factors leading to colic so try to avoid them if the symptoms persist.

2. Remove gas:

Babies tend to take in air while being breastfed and while crying, which results in gas which causes discomfort and pain to the babies. Helping the baby burp reduces gas which can provide a sense of relief for the baby.

3. Breastfeeding:

The contact between a mother and child through breastfeeding is soothing to the child. Your warmth makes the child feel warm and secure.

4. Swaddling the baby:

Wrapping babies makes them feel secure as their range of motion is restricted, helping them in sleeping better.

5. Using a pacifier:

Sucking is soothing for infants and helps them remain calm. Thus, offering an infant a pacifier can help them stay calm, especially while in pain.

6. Gripe water:

Infants are often unable to pass gas and can experience constipation, which causes them pain and discomfort. Gripe water contains herbs which help in digestion, allowing infants to pass gas and give them relief from colic pain. However, not every parent has seen positive results from gripe water, so you will need to consult with your doctor about the best course of treatment for your baby.

7. Switching between breasts:

If you have milk in abundance and tend to switch between breasts while feeding your child, the child is more likely to get foremilk from both breasts. By avoiding this, the child will get more hindmilk faster which is important.

8. Holding the child:

When the child is crying, try holding them in the ‘colic hold’. The colic hold is holding the stomach of the child over the forearm or thigh to give momentary relief to the child by applying pressure in the pain area.

Things to keep in mind about colic:

1. Crying isn’t necessarily colic

An infant crying for an extended period of time need not necessarily be because of colic. If the crying persists for a long time, reach out to your paediatrician. A doctor will be able to find out if the crying is a symptom for some other medical issue or if it natural.

2. Carry the infant when crying

Responding to a crying infant by carrying them is a way of showing them that you care and that you are there for them when they are in pain. They feel more secure when being carried around and attended to by their parents.
While colic can be stressful for babies and their parents, the silver lining is that it isn’t a serious condition and the symptoms will recede eventually. If you suspect that your little one has colic, don’t hesitate to reach out immediately to the city’s top paediatricians at mfine for an instant consultation.

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