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Colic in babies

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Many mums complain about their bubs being colicky. So, what exactly is colic in babies? Colic is unexplained, regular crying fits which occur every day, generally at around the same time of day or night. Causes are mostly unknown, frequently associated with wind or allergies, but there is no firm evidence to support these theories. This makes it really hard for mums to cope: their little boy or girl is in distress, for reasons that are hard to figure out and fix. Babies affected by colic are usually between 2 weeks and 16 weeks of age, and the bouts of crying can last for 3 hours or more. The crying usually stops without ‘treatment’ but it is good to know a few tips to help mum and bub deal with this behaviour.

Colicky babies respond well to being held and movement

What are the symptoms of colic?

Your baby will be very unsettled, crying non-stop, often in 3 hour spells. The signs of colic include a flushed face, clenched fists and legs drawn up to the chest in discomfort. Unfortunately, no matter how much you console your baby, nothing will seem to help - which is the most distressing part for mums. The good news is, colic isn't a lasting symptom and will usually disappear by 3-4 months old.

Suggestions for coping with a colicky baby:


Hold your baby close, swaddled snuggly, trying to replicate the womb. Rock, sway or walk around, while you shush gently or sing softly to comfort baby. Try to avoid changing positions, and keep baby contained in your arms in a calm way. If baby is pushing away, hold baby close but facing away from you to allow them the chance to calm down.


Pick up your crying baby and carry, rock, pat or lightly bounce baby, using a gentle rhythmic movement to help soothe your little one, while avoiding frantic, fast movements. If you have a sling, pop baby into it, as it will enable you to carry baby around whilst you are completing your daily routine. Try and focus on tasks that require only gentle activity by you.

Environment change:

Put your baby into the pram and take them outside. Babies love watching trees and shadows, and will also enjoy the movement of the pram. Their crying is often subdued from the change in scenery.


Allow baby access to their fingers, fists, thumbs or a dummy. They find sucking without feeding is comforting and can reduce the crying.


Give your baby a soothing, floatation bath, where baby is in a deep bath with his tummy facing down; supporting baby’s head in your hand. Turn baby’s head slightly to the side and hold it out of the water. If you want other tips on bathing your little bub read our article on bathing your newborn.


Gently rub baby’s tummy, applying slow gentle movements across their tummy. A warm hand towel over their belly is comforting too.

Tag team:

With your partner, take it in turns to comfort your little one. Sometimes nothing you do seems to work, but a shared approach is easier than coping alone and a safer option.

As a parent, it can be distressing to be unable to relieve your little one’s discomfort. So, at any time, if you feel that you are not coping, speak to your GP or Child and Family Health Nurse.

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