What is colic?

  • colic is when a healthy baby cries or screams frequently and, for extended periods, without any discernible reason
  • the condition typically appears within the first two weeks of life and almost invariably disappears, often very suddenly, before the baby is three to four months old, but can last up to 12 months of life
  • the chances of having colic is lower in breastfed babies
  • the crying often increases during a specific period of the day, particularly the early evening
  • the medical definition of colic is a condition of a healthy baby in which it shows periods of intense, unexplained fussing/crying lasting more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week for more than 3 weeks
  • note that a baby who is breastfeeding to “soothe” themselves while very fussy for more than 3 hours a day is also considered to have colic
  • baby often stiffens his limbs, arches his back, clenches his fists, draws up his flailing limbs against a bloated, tense abdomen, and lets out ear-piercing shrieks
  • baby stiffens in protest to cuddling
  • breastfeeding can sometimes cause baby to arches and pulls away
  • not well understood and very hard to manage for both baby and parents


  • Reflux – night waking, lots of crying after eating, draws up legs & knees to chest, arches back in pain, frequent unexplained colds, wheezing and chest infections, happier when upright rather than lying flat
  • Food sensitivities – babies can be sensitive to foods in breastmilk (corn, dairy, wheat, broccoli, nuts, cauliflower, garlic, onions, spicy foods)
  • Suspect a food sensitivity to formula or breastmilk if your baby: is in pain within an hour of feeding, seems gassy or bloated after feeding, spits up profusely after eating, begins to nurse or bottlefeed but pulls off crying as if in pain, has constipation or diarrhea, has bowel movements are extremely watery, mucousy, or explosive, has the “target-sign” (a red, circular rash around the anus, caused by the skin reacting to irritants in his feces)

Helpful hints:

  • Slower, more frequent feedings. Feeding too much, too fast, can increase intestinal gas from the breakdown of excessive lactose, either in mother’s milk or in formula. As a rule of thumb, feed your baby twice as often and half as much
  • Football hold – Place your baby stomach-down along your forearm, with his head near the crook of your elbow and his legs straddling your hand. Press your forearm into baby’s tense abdomen
  • The neck nestle – Snuggle baby’s head into the groove between your chin and chest. While swaying back and forth, croon a low, slow, repetitive tune
  • Dance away the pain –  Move to music and move UP and DOWN, SIDE to SIDE and FORWARD and BACKWARD
  • Pump the gas out – put baby face up on your lap with legs toward you and head resting on your kneeds.  Pump baby’s legs up and down in a bicyle motion
  • Curl is out – put baby’s head and back against your chest and wrap your arms around baby’s bum.  Curl arms up
  • Belly rolls – drape baby tummy down over a large beach ball (which a secure hand on baby’s back) and gently roll in a circular motion
  • Bounce the colic away – Hold baby securely in your arms and slowly bounce up and down while sitting on the ball
  • Tummy tucks – Place a rolled-up cloth diaper or a warm (not hot) water bottle enclosed in a cloth diaper under baby’s tummy. To further relax a tense tummy, lay baby stomach-down on a cushion with her legs dangling over the edge while rubbing her back. Turn her head to the side so her breathing isn’t obstructed
  • Belly massage – Sit baby on your lap and place the palm of your hand over baby’s navel, and let your fingers and thumb encircle baby’s abdomen. Let baby lean forward, pressing her tense abdomen against your warm hand.  With baby lying on her back, picture an upside down “U” over the surface of your baby’s abdomen and using warm massage oil on your hands and kneading baby’s abdomen in a circular motion with your flattened fingers, massage from left to right along the lines of the imaginary “U.”
  • Tub treatment – A warm bath for relaxes both you and baby
  • Babywearing. Anthropologists who have studied infant care practices throughout the world have noted that carried babies tend to fuss less


A great natural treatment for colic is to use infant probiotics.  BioGaia is a probiotic designed to treat colic and reflux in infants and is also very effective for digestive issues for older children.  Recent research has identified that colic in infants is very similar to what is found in the digestive tracts of adults with IBS.  Inflammation and dysbiosis.  Inflammation creates discomfort and puts kids at risk for eczema, allergies and asthma.  Dysbiosis is when the good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract are not balanced.  Probiotics are a great way to resolve both inflammation and dysbiosis.  Below is an article written on the new research linking adult IBS with infant colic.


Colic linked to bacteria in the stomach of infants. PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 09 August 2009
A recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the bacteria content of poopy in 36 infants to evaluate whether these are abnormal in infants with symptoms of colic. During a 24 hour test, infants with symptoms of colic cried more than non-colicky babies, with an average of 314 minutes of crying during the 24 hour period (that’s over 5 hours of crying!).When the researchers looked at the poop samples from the colicky babies, they found abnormal levels of two different bacteria (klebsiella and enterobacter/pantoea). These bacteria have been linked to several disorders in both children and adults, such as pneumonia, sepsis and diarrhea.They also found that levels of something called fecal calprotectin were two times higher in colicky infants than controls. High calprotectin levels are also found in children with irritable bowel syndrome and infants with intestinal inflammation. This finding suggests that colicky babies have a condition that is somewhat similar to that found in irritable bowel syndrome.

The results of this study suggest that infant colic may be quite similar to some stomach disorders found in children and adults. The authors suggest that colic might be an inflammatory disorder of the intestine. These findings might help lead researchers towards finding effective treatments for colic. In the meantime, you can read some of our treatmet