New Parents Guide to Surviving a Colicky Baby

How to survive a colicky baby

A colicky baby is one of the toughest problems parents will have when they can’t comfort their child.  Both parents are not getting the rest they need and the days and nights just seem to blend together. Friends and relatives offer to help but then you begin to notice that no one is interested in taking your baby overnight because the baby is constantly crying and this is by far one of the most helpless emotions parents can have. Hour after hour tries even the most patient parent’s fuse. What can you do? Start small and if you are breastfeeding, maybe your baby is getting too gassy and it might be the foods you are eating. If you choose formula, maybe the formula is not easy for your baby to digest so talk to your pediatrician and see if you can change the formula to a soy-based product or a prescription written type of formula for allergies called Nutramigen. Either way, call your pediatrician when you have tried everything. You can try gas drops but remember to read the box first to see how old your infant should be before you introduce gas drops.

Here are some reasons for colic:

Food Intolerance:  This is very common and this is basically digestive problems that occur after a certain food is eaten. Symptoms may be colic, vomiting and a burning chest pain.

Intussusception:  This is very rare and is a condition in which part of the intestine telescopes into itself.  Symptoms may include Colic, nausea, cramping

Pyloric Stenosis:  A condition in which the opening between the stomach and small intestine thickens.  Symptoms may include colic, imbalance of fluids and electrolytes and severe vomiting.  

Middle Ear Infection:  This is very common an is an infection of the air-filled space behind the eardrum or the middle ear.  The symptoms may include inflammation of the ear, crying, nasal congestion.

Acid Reflux:  A digestive disease in which stomach acid or bile irritates the food pipelining.  Symptoms include colic, burning chest pain, and nausea.

What is Colic?

The cause of colic is unknown, but here are some ideas on why it may occur:

  • The development of the digestive system
  • Acid reflux
  • Some gasses can make the baby cry 
  • Overstimulation caused by too much stress
  • Food Allergens or being around parents who smoke cigarettes 


If you think your baby has colic, here are some possible signs:

  • Baby extends or pulls legs up to tummy
  • Baby curves his back when crying
  • Baby waves his arms and legs while crying
  • Baby’s face turning red while crying
  • Baby clenches fists when crying
  • Baby seems to experience pain
  • Distension of stomach and feeling gassy because the baby is crying and swallowing too much air or baby hasn’t been burped properly

Colic can be a huge challenge with parents when your baby is always cranky.  You may become tired after a while when friends and family keep asking you “What is wrong with your baby?”  You are wondering will I ever make it through this?

Colic is a bit mysterious because the term pertains to any baby that is healthy and well fed and cries more than 3 hours a day.  In addition, the crying pertains to more than 3 days per week, for more than 3 weeks. Some babies cry for the first two years and parents are frustrated because their pediatrician tells them that nothing is wrong with their baby. Here is some more insight on colic:

  • Colic usually starts around age 2 weeks old if you have a full term infant and later if your infant is premature.
  • Specialists say that colic usually disappears by age 3 to 4 months but that is not the case with all babies.  Some babies continue to cry constantly for months and even a few years. You do everything you can for your child and you still are puzzled and confused.
  • The gender of the baby and the order of their birth in regards to other siblings are not the reason baby has colic. Breastfed and bottle fed babies still are prone to colic.
  • Don’t worry, your child is no different than any other kid when they grow up if your baby was colicky

Colic’s exact cause is still not known, and this is why there is not a magic medicine to cure colic. There are other theories that might help you understand why your baby might have colic.

Gas has been mentioned many times, also there’s a chance that a growing digestive system causes muscles that often spasm. Hormones can be another culprit because they cause stomach pain or put the baby in a fussy mood. Sometimes oversensitivity and overstimulation of babies can cause the baby to be cranky from too much light and different noises. Think about this, if you are talking too much and many people are talking to you at the same time, adults too can become very irritable from overstimulation and lighting at home and on their jobs.  It’s always a good idea to use a soft watt light bulb to calm baby and you down for a while. Babies are human too and feed off of other people’s energy and anxiousness if they are in the same room. A nervous parent can also make a nervous child. Some babies are just plain moody and so are adults for that matter so it doesn’t matter how old a person is. Remember your baby’s nervous system is still developing and this can take some time to be fully developed. This is why you might notice your baby flailing his hands and legs frequently. Baby has to learn how to control their hands and feet and it takes some time for them to calm down.

There are also many issues that may seem like colic but they are not:

  • An infection
  • Acid reflux
  • Pressure or inflammation of their tiny brain and nervous system
  • Eye problems, a scratch or an increase of pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Injured bones and muscles
What to do if Colic is Stressing you out

It is quite a challenge to have a colicky baby.  You have to remember that this is normal and common to feel angry, resentful and frustrated at times towards your baby.  You are not a bad parent for having these feelings, so don’t beat yourself up over this. All parents are frustrated from time to time. If you are feeling that you are ready to have a breakdown, remember it’s ok to walk out of the room. It’s ok to leave your baby cry in his playpen or crib for a short time while you get yourself together.  You can always take the baby on a walk or a car ride to see if they stop crying and go to sleep. A safe swing is helpful too. Sooner or later your baby will outgrow their colic behavior!