Baby colic - what you need to know

Symptoms of colic – crying baby

The clearest sign your baby might be suffering from colic is continuous, high-pitched crying for no obvious reason.

Other signs that your baby might have colic include:

  • More frequent crying in the late afternoon or evening, sometimes after feeding
  • If your baby’s face goes red or your baby’s eyes roll up
  • If your baby draws the legs to the  tummy
  • If you baby’s tummy feels hard
  • If your baby lifts the head, or legs and passes gas
  • If your baby’s fists become clenched

No one knows for sure exactly why colic happens with babies, but the symptoms can be very distressing for mums.

How to prevent colic and ease your little one’s discomfort

Leave longer between feeds

Encouraging a routine of three to four hourly feeds may be better than feeding the every one to two hours as usual.

Breastfeeding diet

If you’re breastfeeding, check your diet to see if you’re eating too many of the following foods: broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts and cabbage, chocolate, cow’s milk, onions, citrus fruits and tomatoes. These can all cause babies to be gassy or colicky. If you suspect a certain food, cut it out for a couple of days to see if there’s an effect. If you are considering cutting out any food groups long term, such as dairy foods, it’s a good idea to get advice from a healthcare professional.

Burping technique

Try to get the gas out of your baby’s tummy before it has a chance to move through to the bowel. If your baby is a quick feeder you may need to burp more frequently. An upright position is essential, either placing your baby on your shoulder or sitting in your lap. Try firmly patting your baby’s back to encourage the bubbles up and out.

Massage

A gentle tummy massage can help relax your baby’s tense muscles, and is especially effective after a warm bath.

Gripe water

Gripe water is an old-fashioned remedy. While there is no good evidence that it works, some mothers do use it when their baby has a problem. It warms and relaxes the tummy and has an antacid effect too. Gripe water is usually recommended for babies older than one month, but always remember to check the label before use.

A more comfortable position

Certain positions are soothing for a colicky baby, especially on the tummy. Lay your baby face down over your arm, head resting in the crook of your elbow with your hand between your baby’s legs. You could also try lying your little one face down on your lap, head turned to the side, while gently moving your own legs side to side. Remember once asleep you should make sure your baby is lying face-up.

Movement

A swing or vibrating chair can be a lifesaver if your baby is very unhappy in the evenings.

Anti-colic bottles

If you are bottle feeding, either fully or just occasionally, choose a bottle with an anti-colic valve which has been clinically proven to reduce colic and its symptoms. Be sure to have the correct flow of teat for your baby, and to always have the teat full of milk so your baby isn’t sucking in air.

Soothers

Try a soother when your baby is difficult to comfort. If your baby does have a pain, suckling will help.

Please be aware that the information given in these articles is only intended as general advice and should in no way be taken as a substitute for professional medical advice. If you or your family or your child is suffering from symptoms or conditions which are severe or persistent or you need specific medical advice, please seek professional medical assistance. Philips AVENT cannot be held responsible for any damages that result from the use of the information provided on this website.

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