Baby colic - what are the symptoms and how to relieve them


How to recognize colic?

Colic is painful spasms in newborns. A colicky baby suddenly starts to cry loudly and curls its legs towards its stomach, and the colic is usually at its worst in the late afternoon and evening. A colicky baby's tummy is swollen and hard. You will recognize colic easily by the fact that the baby is not constantly restless, but only at certain times, most often in the evening, and also by the characteristic contraction of the legs and sudden crying. Sometimes mothers wonder if the baby is hungry, but when hungry, the crying gradually increases, initially starting with grunting. Crying from colic is a typical signal of pain - the baby suddenly starts crying loudly, having previously been quite calm.

About 25% of newborns suffer from colic, and the symptoms usually start in the first weeks of the baby's life and are most pronounced at 6 weeks. The end of baby colic usually occurs at the end of the third month.

What causes colic?

Immature digestive system

Newborns have an underdeveloped digestive system that is still learning to process food. The muscles of the stomach do not yet maintain a constant rhythm by which to move food through the digestive tract, and so trapped air remains in the small stomachs, which causes discomfort and pain.

Swallowing air while sucking

Colic can be caused by the sucking pattern. Some babies suckle "voraciously" as in noisily and quickly take milk from the breast or bottle. With this breastfeeding model, along with milk, the baby also swallows a lot of air, which causes discomfort and pain in the stomach.

Early feeding with puree or juice

Colic can be caused by the early feeding of solid foods. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months of age. In our country, however, many pediatricians still practice early feeding, introducing juice or fruit puree into the baby's menu, sometimes at the age of even less than 4 months. During the first months of a baby's life, his digestive system is still unprepared for solid foods or juice, and early feeding can lead to colic, diarrhea, vomiting or a rash. Fruit juice is not considered a solid food by many, but be especially careful with it, because even though it is liquid, the juice has a high acid content and, of all foods, can easily irritate the delicate baby's stomach, which until this point has been accustomed only to the mother's milk. There is a large number of children who are fed early, who immediately after feeding or in later childhood suffer from stomach problems or allergies.

How to relieve colic?colic massage

There are many medications to relieve baby colic, but before offering your baby any of them, consider the pros and cons of such therapy. Every medication, even the most harmless contain chemical ingredients that have a harmful effect on the body, especially when it comes to a newborn, which in the first months of its life is highly sensitive to any external influence that is absent in the natural environment for development of human babies. During the first weeks of a baby's life, all his organs and systems develop very quickly. Any chemical interference in this development process could lead to unexpected side reactions, some of which will manifest themselves not immediately, but over time. For this, before reaching for drugs to fight colic, try the many natural and completely harmless methods in this direction:

  1. Gently pick up the baby in your arms in an upright position with the tummy pressed against your body

When the baby cries and curls his legs in painful spasms, pick him up in your arms in an upright position facing you so that his tummy is pressed against your stomach. The warmth of your body, the feeling that he is not alone, and the upright position of the baby will relieve colic. Walk around the room holding the baby in this position. It is important to wrap the baby well so that it feels cozy and safe, and also that you are calm and in a good mood. If you yourself are nervous and restless, you will not be able to calm the baby down either. It senses and is affected by your mood. So, smile and gently wrap your arms around the little one and snuggle him to your body. If this method works you could put him in a sling in an upright position facing you and wear him that way during the hours he is colic.

  1. Create a warm and cozy environment for the baby

When the baby is very restless, try to imitate the comfort of the mother's womb - turn off the bright lights and stay in the dark or in dim light, take the baby in your arms and gently press him to you, covering him all over with your arms or in sling. With stomach colic, the baby feels best when it is in a warm and sheltered cozy place - like in the womb. For this, the touch of the mother's (or father's) body, wrapped in a soft blanket or placed in a sling, will make the little one feel better. The most comfortable position for the baby is the vertical position, which supports peristalsis.

  1. Place the baby lying on his stomach on your lap or on the bed and gently massage his back

For this method to be effective, it must also be accompanied by a calm and gentle attitude on the part of the parent. While massaging the baby's back, you can sing to him or tell him something. The calm and gentle tone of your voice has a soothing effect on the baby.

  1. Massage

Massage the abdomen in a clockwise direction around the navel. Massage 20-30 minutes before meals is especially useful. You can put 1 drop of marjoram, chamomile or tangerine oil on your palms. When inhaled, these oils induce a soothing effect on the intestines and stomach.

  1. Rock the baby - in your arms, in a cradle or in the car seat.colic4

Rocking has been soothing to babies for thousands of years. Sing gently to the baby while rocking him. It is important that you yourself are calm.

  1. The noise of some appliances calms a restless baby

When the baby is restless, often appliances that emit monotonous repetitive sounds act soothingly, such as a washing machine, hair dryer, vacuum cleaner or car engine.

  1. Show the baby interesting colorful objects

Bright colors and varied shapes attract the baby's attention and may distract him from stomach discomfort. Try to get the baby's attention and play with him. If he is too upset and uninterested in what you are showing him, take him in your arms and gently hold him close to you (see point 1 and 2).

  1. Be careful that the baby does not swallow a lot of air when feeding

If you are breastfeeding, when you notice that the baby is sucking greedily and noisily, take him away from the breast for a moment and then offer him to nurse again, making sure that the nursing position is correct and that the baby covers as much of the areola as possible in his mouth. Watch the baby suckle with proper rhythmic movements. If you're bottle feeding, check what teat and what hole is best for your child's age to minimize the chance of air swallowing.

  1. Do not overfeed the baby

Whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding, when your baby lets go of the breast or pacifier and pulls his head back, don't insist that he continue feeding. Overeating will increase stomach discomfort.

  1. If you are breastfeeding, change your diet

If you are breastfeeding, temporarily limit from your menu hard-to-digest and hard-to-digest foods such as fresh milk, eggs, peanuts, citrus fruits, legumes and cabbage foods, etc., carbonated drinks, foods with a high concentration of preservatives and artificial ingredients, as well as foods with of caffeine such as chocolate and coffee. Instead, focus on light foods and soothing herbs and spices (ginger, cumin, anise, thyme, fennel and chamomile).

  1. If you are formula feeding, choose the most suitable type of milk

Talk to your pediatrician about switching to another type of baby milk.

  1. Burp the baby regularly after feeding

This is most easily done by lifting the baby in an upright position so that his stomach is at the level of your shoulder and gently massage his back.

  1. If you are breastfeeding, do not rush to separate the baby from the breast before the baby signals that he has eaten

If you are breastfeeding, give your baby enough time to accept actual milk (separated from the breast after the first few minutes of breastfeeding). If you stop nursing too quickly or offer the baby the other breast, he may fall asleep, but he has actually only fed on the first milk (which is low in fat). Without the presence of actual milk, the first milk quickly passes from the stomach to the intestines. The lactose (milk sugar) in it ferments there and gases are formed. If you have more milk, breastfeed your baby from only one breast at a time. Newborns often do not have the strength to suckle for a long time and get tired and fall asleep. Gently wake the baby and encourage him to continue nursing until he is fed. In the beginning, one breastfeeding can last almost an hour - this is normal for newborns. The older the baby grows, the faster and more skillfully he will suckle. So be patient. Soon breastfeeding will take you no more than 10 minutes, but now be patient and encourage the baby to eat well.

  1. Keep calm

If your baby is restless most of the day, you must be exhausted trying to calm him down. In such moments it is difficult to appear calm and kind to the baby as well. If you feel that you yourself are upset or tired, it is better to ask someone else to stay with the baby for a while, and you try to rest and distract yourself. A nervous and exhausted mother is unable to soothe the baby. In such a state, you additionally transmit your own nervousness to it, because it senses your every mood and is influenced by it. Remember that you have a beautiful baby who will soon get rid of colic and replace crying with a smile. Rest for a while and then come back with renewed strength and hug your baby tenderly and show him that you have endless love and tenderness for him, no matter how much he cries. That's the only way to calm him down.


  1. Herbal medicine

Consult a pediatrician before using herbs. It is best that the baby does not take any food or liquid other than breast milk before the age of 6 months. Try taking herbs that ease the stomach. Through breast milk, these herbs also reach the baby. If your baby's colic is severe and not relieved by any of the above, you can try giving your baby some warm herbal tea from a cup or spoon in small sips before each feed. Ginger, fennel, chamomile and anise help prevent painful spasms, which are the likely causes of colic. Do not exceed the dosage of a quarter cup daily.

  1. Homeopathy

We list homeopathy last here, but it's actually one of the first places in terms of importance when it comes to health and behavioral problems in the baby. In case of severe colic, before resorting to medication, take the baby to a homeopathic doctor. Homeopathy is a gentle, gentle medicine, suitable even for the smallest. You can safely relieve your baby's symptoms with natural homeopathic remedies. However, do not resort to self-medication. Just because a homeopathic remedy worked for one baby doesn't mean it will work for yours. On the contrary, the effect may be the opposite for you, since homeopathic treatment is based on a wide range of individual characteristics, and in order to get the desired result, a homeopathic specialist needs to assess which is the appropriate homeopathic remedy for the specific case. Whenever you think that something is wrong and you cannot help the baby with the natural means that nature has given to the mother - breastfeeding, cuddling and tenderness, then the first thing you should do is to consult a classical homeopath . This way, you will be reassured that the baby's problems will be solved quickly and easily, without the danger of side reactions and damage, which are always there if you treat the baby with drugs.

Author: Neli Vasileva-Stefanova

Psychologist - specialist in early childhood development

Look more:

How to stimulate the intellectual development of the baby

The sounds that soothe a crying baby

Homeopathy for painful teething

Vitamin D and its importance for the health of the baby


Comments are off.