What is Colics? What Causes Colic? And Why Does It Keep My Baby Up at Night?

June 16, 2013
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What is Colics and How It Affect Babies | Innovative Health

What is Colics and How It Affect Babies | Innovative Health

Becoming a parent is an exhilarating journey, but it comes with its share of challenges, one of which is colic. Colic is a term used to describe excessive crying and fussiness in otherwise healthy babies. It’s a perplexing condition that often leaves parents feeling helpless and exhausted.


Understanding Colic in Babies


What is Colics?

Colics is characterized by inconsolable crying episodes in infants, typically starting around the second or third week of life and peaking around 6-8 weeks. These episodes can last for several hours a day, usually in the late afternoon or evening, and occur at least three days a week for three weeks or more. While the exact cause of colic remains unclear, it is believed to be related to gastrointestinal discomfort or immaturity.


Symptoms of Colics

Common symptoms of colic include intense crying, clenching fists, pulling up legs, and difficulty consoling the baby. These symptoms can be distressing for both the baby and the parents, often leading to heightened anxiety and fatigue.


Causes of Colics

There are many theories about the cause of colic, including:

  • Digestive issues, particularly due to intolerance to cow’s milk
  • Reflux
  • An immature digestive system
  • Air or gas in the intestinal tract
  • Increased hormone levels that cause stomach aches or fussiness

Many colicky babies will cry at the same time every day, often late afternoon or early evening. Unfortunately, these episodes can last for hours, sometimes late into the night, causing a highly stressful situation. It often seems that no matter how hard a parent works, the baby will not calm down.

Many believe in the “rule of 3” and often a doctor will diagnose colic based on these rules – crying for more than three hours per day, for more than three days per week, and for longer than three weeks in an infant who is well-fed and otherwise healthy. Parents of colicky babies report significantly higher levels of stress than parents of infants without colic. And no wonder. As a parent, you want to do everything in your power to calm your baby. Those babies with colic are often inconsolable. So what is a parent to do?


Gastrointestinal Issues

One theory suggests that colic may stem from gastrointestinal issues such as gas, acid reflux, or an imbalance of gut bacteria. Babies with colic may experience abdominal discomfort, leading to prolonged crying episodes.


Immature Digestive System

Another possible cause of colics is an immature digestive system. Babies’ digestive systems are still developing in the early months of life, making them more susceptible to discomfort and irritation, especially after feeding.


Sensory Overload

Some experts believe that colics may be triggered by sensory overload. Babies are highly sensitive to their surroundings, and excessive stimulation from noise, light, or touch can overwhelm them, leading to crying spells.



Impact of Colic on Babies

Sleep Disruption

Colics can significantly disrupt a baby’s sleep patterns, as well as the sleep of their parents. The constant crying and fussiness often make it challenging for babies to settle down and fall asleep, resulting in sleep deprivation for the entire family.


Parental Stress

The relentless crying and inability to soothe their baby can take a toll on parents’ mental and emotional well-being. Feelings of frustration, guilt, and inadequacy are common among parents dealing with colics, adding to the overall stress of caring for a newborn.



Chiropractic Care for Colicky Babies

Colic strikes 20 percent of all babies, and what experts do know is that it is not the result of genetics or any event during pregnancy or childbirth. While there are multiple theories, none ask the big question – what is colic?

Colics is defined as severe, often fluctuating pain in the abdomen caused by intestinal gas or obstruction in the intestines and suffered especially by babies. And suffer they do. They tighten their little fists and seem to suffer with tightened abdominal muscles. Plus they cry and very little if anything seems to calm them down.


Consider Chiropractic Care for Colic

Research on chiropractic care for colicky babies has shown benefits over other treatments, such as dietary changes, medication, and infant positioning. There have been numbers as high as 94% reported in improvement of colic symptoms in babies receiving chiropractic adjustments.

For example, a randomized clinical trial published in 1999 in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics showed that babies receiving chiropractic adjustments for two weeks had a 67% decrease in crying versus babies given anti-gas medication who had a 38% decrease over the same period.

Another study of 316 children showed significant improvement in colic with chiropractic care. During this study, mothers of colicky babies kept diaries to track crying. After three months, 94% of the babies undergoing spinal adjustments showed improvements. Even better, the improvements occurred after an average of only three adjustments within two weeks.

Chiropractic care is a gentle, safe way to treat a baby for colic, and often has other benefits for a newborn through the alignment of the baby’s spine. Look for chiropractors who specialize in care for babies and children to be sure your baby receives the best care. While no one study helps us understand the causes of colic, the tender touch of a chiropractor who specializes in children will provide much-needed relief.


Coping Strategies for Colic

Soothing Techniques

There are various soothing techniques that parents can try to help calm a colicky baby, including gentle rocking, swaddling, and white noise machines. Experimenting with different methods can help identify what works best for individual babies.


Dietary Changes

In some cases, dietary changes may alleviate symptoms of colics, particularly if the baby is formula-fed. Switching to a hypoallergenic formula or eliminating certain foods from the mother’s diet if breastfeeding may help reduce gastrointestinal discomfort.


Seeking Support

Coping with colics can be overwhelming, so it’s essential for parents to seek support from friends, family, or support groups. Sharing experiences and receiving encouragement from others who have been through similar challenges can provide much-needed reassurance and validation.


When to Consult a Doctor

Red Flags

While colics is typically a benign condition, there are some red flags that warrant medical attention. These include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or blood in the stool, which may indicate an underlying medical issue requiring intervention.



In conclusion, colics is a common but challenging condition that affects many newborns and their families. While the exact cause remains uncertain, understanding the symptoms and potential triggers can help parents better cope with their baby’s crying spells. By implementing soothing techniques, making dietary adjustments, and seeking support when needed, parents can navigate through this difficult phase with patience and resilience.


Unique FAQs:

Can colic be prevented?

Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to prevent colic, but maintaining a calm and soothing environment for your baby may help reduce the severity of symptoms.


How long does colic typically last?

Colics usually peak around 6-8 weeks of age and gradually improve by 3-4 months, although some babies may experience symptoms for a longer period.


Does colic indicate a health problem in my baby?

Colics itself is not a sign of an underlying health problem, but if your baby exhibits other concerning symptoms like fever or vomiting, it’s essential to consult a pediatrician.


Can breastfeeding help alleviate colic?

Breastfeeding can provide comfort to a colicky baby, but if certain foods in the mother’s diet seem to exacerbate symptoms, dietary changes may be necessary.


Is there medication available for treating colic?

There is no specific medication for colics, but your pediatrician may recommend gas drops or other remedies to help alleviate discomfort.

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