The Cause and Treatment of Newborn, Infant and Baby Colic
Reviewed by Angelika Rampal, MD on January 15, 2014
What are the Symptoms of Colic?
It is fairly common for babies to go through periods when they appear abnormally irritable, fussy, or seem to cry for no reason. Some babies are fussier than others and may even be described as "colicky." Colic can be defined as excessive crying or fussiness, usually in the late afternoon. It starts around 2 weeks and generally resolves or is resolving by 12 weeks. Rarely does it endure past six months of age. Pediatricians often use Wessel’s criteria to define colic: 3 hours per day, at least 3 times a week for at least 3 weeks, though in practice, colic may be more loosely defined.
Some associated symptoms of colic may be clenching of the fists, arching of the back, or tensing of the abdomen. Bouts tend to come on suddenly and end suddenly, and the cry may sound more intense to parents. Colicky babies may be extremely difficult to console. If you suspect your baby is suffering from colic, compare your child's symptoms with the list below. Our poll of thousands of parents illustrates the frequency of nine common signs in infants meeting at least two of the Wessel criteria for colic. Overall, 84% reported at least 5 of the signs below.
Parents may describe their baby’s cry as more piercing, painful or intense compared to his normal cry. Parents often think of colicky pain as an acute abdominal pain, but since colicky babies cannot describe exactly what distresses them, it is hard for parents to know the precise cause of their distress.
|Symptom / Sign||Frequency|
|1. Cries vigorously for long periods, despite efforts to console*||100%|
|2. Crying begins around the same time each day or night||77%|
|3. Symptoms begin after meal times||70%|
|4. Symptoms begin and end abruptly without warning||92%|
|5. Symptoms cease after a bowel movement or passing gas||62%|
|6. Baby spits up frequently**||46%|
|7. Shows signs of gas such as; abdominal bloating or a hard distended stomach||74%|
|8. During episodes; baby arches back, pulls knees to chest, clenches fists, flails arms and legs||90%|
|9. Baby experiences disrupted sleep patterns||83%|
* Inconsolable crying is part of the Wessel definition of colic. Thus, all colicky infants fit this criteria.
** The fact that relatively few reported excessive spit-up, which is quite common in babies anyway, suggests that reflux is not a factor in most cases of colic.
Parents may describe their baby’s cry as more piercing, painful or intense compared to his normal cry. It is usually manifested as an acute abdominal pain with intense spasmodic cramping, but since colicky babies cannot describe exactly what distresses them, it is hard for parents to know the precise cause of their distress.
Pediatricians often use the "Rule of Three" to diagnose colic: "A baby that cries for three or more hours per day, at least three times per week, within a three month period". Wessel, et al., "Paroxysmal fussing in infancy." Pediatrics 1954; 14:5 421-435. About 25 percent of babies worldwide meet the official "Rule of Threes" criteria for medical diagnosis of colic.
To compare your child's symptoms to the observations of other parents or start a conversation, take our short colic symptom survey.
While there are many theories about colic, there is no single consistent cause that experts all agree upon. The interactive chart on the right illustrates eight possible causes.
A lot of evidence suggests that colic may be caused in different ways in different babies. There appear to be several contributing factors that, when occurring in combination, are likely to result in colic pain and discomfort:
- Newborns have an immature digestive system that has never processed food. The gastrointestinal system is literally just learning to function. Muscles that support digestion have not developed the proper rhythm for moving food efficiently thought the digestive tract. Additionally, newborns lack the benevolent bacterial flora (probiotics) that develop over time to aid digestion. A more mature gut may explain why infants tend to outgrow colic symptoms by 6 months of age.
- A mother may notice that certain foods make her baby more fussy. For example, trace elements of cow's milk protein, onions, cruciferous vegetables, or chocolate may be passed via breast milk to baby and cause gas and bloating. In those cases, keeping a food log and trying an elimination diet may help.
- Infants often swallow air while feeding or during strenuous crying, which increases gas and bloating, further adding to their discomfort.
Since infants' nervous systems are so immature, it is possible for them to get overloaded with unfamiliar sights and sounds. Infants that are easily overloaded often experience more severe colic, fussiness, and difficulty sleeping later in the day or at night. In general, the more activity (errands, visitors, television, phones, etc.) in a baby's day, the higher the chances of baby becoming colicky and fussy.
Colic, and the months of distress and sleeplessness that it brings to both infants and parents, can leave you feeling frantic, frustrated, worried, exhausted, confused, guilty and inadequate. Foremost, it is essential to build and maintain a loving bond with your infant. If your baby experiences colic that does not appear to dissipate, you will probably be looking for a safe, natural and effective colic remedy to ease your baby's suffering. There are several treatments available for baby colic. As always, you should consult your pediatrician first before giving baby any medications, remedies or supplements.
Homeopathic remedies can be an excellent choice for treating infant colic symptoms. Homeopathy uses small doses of natural substances and has a long track record of safe use in children. There is only one such liquid formula on the market. Colic Calm Gripe Water is available at leading pharmacies, online and in select health food stores and health practitioners' offices. Many parents and caretakers have been relieved to find an all-natural remedy. The unique homeopathic formula works within minutes, so it is only given on an "as needed" basis. Thousands of satisfied customers have also reported that it works wonders for bloating, pressure, stomach cramps, hiccups, teething and even acid reflux. It is also extremely effective on gas created during introduction of new foods into babies' delicate digestive tracts. A combination of homeopathic ingredients is used to treat the multiple symptoms of colic as depicted below.
There are other gripe waters on the market that are sold as "dietary supplements". Be careful! These are not regulated by the FDA and fall under loose dietary supplement guidelines. Generally, the main ingredients of these products include:
- Sodium Bicarbonate (a.k.a. Baking Soda). Sodium bicarbonate is an alkali (antacid) which alters the naturally occurring pH of a baby's stomach acid. It may counteract some discomfort caused by natural acidity in a baby’s tummy. However, stomach acid serves a useful purpose because it helps the body digest food and protects the gut from infections. Disrupting the stomach’s natural acidity has led to concerns about risk for infection and malabsorption of nutrients like calcium, magnesium, B12, and iron.
For this reason, sodium bicarbonate-containing products are not to be consumed by “children under 5 years of age”, as stated clearly on antacid and baking soda boxes. Antacids always warn against extended use: “Do not use for more than 2 weeks.” According to some doctors, sodium bicarbonate can cause an imbalance in babies’ electrolytes, which can also lead to serious problems.
Please note that antacids do interact with or prevent the absorption of many medications. According to Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine, antacids (e.g. sodium bicarbonate) “should not be given to young children (up to 6 years of age) unless prescribed by their doctor.” Since children often cannot describe their symptoms well, doctor visits are advisable before giving any antacids to children. The condition may require other treatment. In such cases, not only will antacids not help, they may actually lead to unwanted side effects and/ or worsening of condition.
Medline also warns against taking large doses of sodium bicarbonate with large amounts of milk or milk products. To do so may increase the chance of side effects.
- Essential Oils and extracts (dill oil, clove oil, fennel extract, ginger extract, etc) are used by all other gripe water brands. Fennel in particular (also contained in Colic Calm though not in essential oil form) has been shown effective in at least one clinical study. However, there are known safety issues with some herbal oils and extract preparations.
If you are sure your infant is suffering from colic, there are concrete steps you can take to relieve the symptoms of your colicky baby. Therapies include changing your baby's environment and diet to direct internal treatment. As always, consult your pediatrician about the range of alternative treatments available. There are safe, natural and effective alternatives to pharmaceuticals and artificial chemicals. Homeopathy has been used for more than 200 years to safely treat a variety of nervous and digestive disorders including colic.
Remember that babies are just getting accustomed to this world and, as they grow older, their colic will eventually subside. Their digestive systems will learn how to function well. In the first three months of life, babies are not well-equipped to calm themselves. Self-calming is a skill that develops slowly over time and at different rates in children. Babies this young are not expected to self soothe, and you can’t spoil them by helping them soothe.
Red Flag Symptoms
Please remember this information is not a substitute for medical advice or medical care. Please consult your doctor if your child is having fever, diarrhea, vomiting, poor feeding, prolonged crying or any other symptoms that concern you.
What Parents are Saying
When my second grandson was born on December 2, I was overjoyed. My daughter lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, some 2200 miles from Florence, New Jersey. After returning from my 10 day visit to Lincoln, my daughter called me weeping that her son had developed colic; I didn't know what to do….so many miles away. I jumped on the internet and found your wonderful product. It was delivered within two days and it saved all our nerves!! Little Nate has been on it four days and my daughter and her husband have had four days of pleasure with their beautiful baby boy. He had a doctor's appointment today for a check-up and he actually laughed during the visit. The doctor was amazed at the transformation. Thank you for such a fine product!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Your miracle product has restored peace into our once chaotic home. My husband and I tried everything! We changed his formula, bought infant gas-x, mylicon, phazyme,and maalox. NOTHING WORKED. Our little boy had both gas and colic and was getting worse every day. I started surfing the web and found out about your product, we were so desperate we were willing to try anything. I am sooo glad we ordered it. Within the first day we starting noticing the difference. Two days later our beautiful baby boy was back to his happy self and actually slept through the ENTIRE night. Never did any of our other children sleep through the night at 2 months old. Once again, THANK YOU, I only wish we had discovered it sooner.
Just wanted to let you know how amazed and appreciative we are! Within the first dose of Colic Calm our fitful, sad, screaming three week old became a new little man. I was a bit apprehensive with purchasing gripe water over the internet but after reading the reviews from other parents and feeling as desperate as I did, I took a chance. It only took 2 days for us to get your "miracle" product. In the meantime, I did go to a local health food store, figuring that all gripe waters were the same, and purchased another brand of gripe water. I was so disappointed with the other product that I was doubtful that your Colic Calm would do anything. Wow was I wrong! Not only did Colic Calm help soothe our baby, it made him regular too! In this day and age when gimmicks are a dime a dozen, I can't thank you enough for creating a product that truly works wonders. I have sung your praises to everyone I know. Colic Calm is outstanding!
I wanted to say how amazing your product is. My 7 week old daughter has had colic since she was 3 weeks old. She would cry so hard that it would make ME cry. I tried every trick to help soothe her and nothing worked. From the first time I gave her the first dose, she quit crying and would smile and fall asleep!!. I HIGHLY recommend this product!! It is worth the money for your baby not to be in pain. You can't put a price on that.
Without a doubt Colic Calm is the best product on the market for colicky / gassy babies. My little girl came home from the hospital and was in severe pain 2 days later. She awoke screaming, crying and straining. I tried Mylicon Gas Drops, home remedies, massaging, etc., all with minimal/no results - they do NOT work. Desperation drove me to the internet where I found this site and after reading the ingredients and the testimonial page, I quickly ordered. After the first dose she immediately calmed and was able to pass gas and move her bowels with much greater ease. After 3 weeks of consistent use, she now only needs it on occasion. The makers of this product are absolutely fabulous! Will definitely recommend to other parents! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
Our daughter had colic as a newborn. We as a family suffered. There were nights of nonstop crying and even a few 18-20 hour days of crying, only stopping for a nap. I found your product while searching for remedies and help. We figured it was a long shot and little did we know what a godsend your product would be. It was like a whole new baby had entered our family. Colic Calm could not have come soon enough. Thank you.
I am so thankful for your Colic Calm. It's a Blessing in a Bottle. My twin granddaughters are new babies thanks to your product. They actually smile when they see the bottle coming their way since they love the taste and know how much better it makes them feel. I have seen the results in my grand-daughters but did not really know how well it worked until I myself had a tummy ache. I took a dose and within minutes I felt relief. My daughter (mother to the twins) also, tried Colic Calm, also with immediate results. Because of you, my grand-daughters (4 monts today) are happy babies and a joy to be with. Thank you for sharing your Colic Calm with the world.
Cindy M. (Grandma of twin girls)
I was really surprised at how quick it works. I wish this product would have been available 26 years ago. I purchased this product for my grandaughter that is 8 weeks old. It worked the 1st time I tried it. I would recommend it to any one with a colicky baby. My daughter took this to show her doctor and he was so impressed that he was making brochures for all of his new mother patients to put in their folders. The nurses were on their computers going to your website for more info. I will be recommending this product to all my friends that have fussy babies also. Thank You to the makers of Colic calm for such a terrific product.
I'd love to tell you about how grateful we are for ColicCalm. I began using it when my daughter was about 6 weeks old. She is usualy a very happy baby but she began having severe bouts of gas & spitting up, along with hours of screaming (COLIC). I ordered ColicCalm to see if it might work. It was our miracle cure. I found out within 15 mins. how well it works. She is now 4 months old & we still use it whenever she gets the hiccups, gas or has trouble falling asleep. She loves it. All I have to do is show her the bottle & she stops crying. I am not joking. She will start kicking her feet, rolling her tongue & SMILING. I have told every mother to be & new mom I know about ColicCalm & I will be ordering a few extra bottles in the very short time for a few baby showers I will be attending. ColicCalm will be in every gift basket I give for baby showers & birth gifts. I would be happy to tell every retailer to carry your product. I will tell you this, before I found ColiCalm on the web, I purchased another product called Baby Bliss. It is still sitting in my pantry with only two doses used. I knew after the first dose I had to keep looking. Thank you for making such a wonderful product. I love the results but mostly I love the fact that it is safe to give my baby girl.
Works GREAT!!!! I purchased a bottle of Colic Calm and it helped my baby girl so much I thought she was through the colic period and I stopped giving it to her. Boy was I wrong!!! After 2 days of continous crying and fussing I gave her one dose. Within 10 minutes she was back to her smiling, happy self!!! Thanks a million!!!!! I highly recomend this product for anyone suffering with a colicy baby!!!!!!!!
Our baby Emma seems to be doing much better. Actually, only a few days after using the Colic Calm, she seemed to not show any more signs of colic. The only time she is really fussy now is if I eat spicy food that doesn't agree with her. Thank you for your help.
We have found great relief with your product. Our little angel is truly enjoyable now because she isn't in constant screaming pain. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I just received my shipment of colic calm for my great grand son. He's almost 3 months old and colic calm is a life saver. He has had a rough start in life to begin with. He had some health problems at birth but is doing ok in that area right now. He had colic very bad and my granddaughter was at her wit's end and didn't know what to try. Her doctor was of no help at all. He just told her to live with it and eventually it would go away. Easy for him to say. He wasn't the one up all night with him. I would just like to say a big THANK YOU. This product is absolutely worth its weight in gold, and then some. Thanks again!!!!!
My 3 month old foster daughter is doing much better. We took her into our home when she was 6 weeks old and she cried almost constantly. She was unable to sleep more than 15-20 minutes at a time due to her severe colic and abdominal discomfort. She was miserable, to say the least. I found the Colic Calm web page on my own after doing a desperate search hoping to find some relief for this precious little baby. When the package arrived, we were elated and tried it immediately. I am not exaggerating one bit when I say that I noticed a difference in my daughter's demeanor almost instantly. After about three days, her disposition was vastly improved. She was sleeping better and for longer periods and no longer spent most of her day crying out in distress. Her eyes lost their distant, pained gaze and looked brighter and clearer. We have been giving Colic Calm to our daughter just once a day now and it continues to help keep her colic at bay, and also helps relieve gas discomfort. Our baby has improved considerably, she's filling out and putting on weight and has begun to thrive. Colic Calm has made a difference in her life, and in our lives, and I have been busy telling everyone I know about it!
The stuff works like a charm. They all said my baby wasn’t colicky even though he cried morning noon and night, but once we used this stuff, he was an entirely different baby, so happy and easy-going. It's bliss.
It is no wonder why sleep deprivation is a form of war torture. We thank ColicCalm for restoring peace in our home. Endless gratitude!
I have a 3 month little girl and after the first week or so at home she was starting to get really fussy. We tried all the other things first like gas drops, other brands of gripe water and even changing my diet and nothing worked. I couldn’t get her comfortable. In all honesty we actually stumbled onto this product when my mother was doing research on what could be causing my daughter to be so uncomfortable and she didn’t even know that your site had something to relieve all the symptoms my daughter had when she forwarded it to me. Of course a lot of things you read on the internet may be false and I honestly can say that at first I was very skeptical about this product. But it’s amazing stuff! My daughter sleeps better and longer. She hardly ever cries and I get some much needed rest too. I have been recommending it to all my friends getting ready to have a baby. We will definitely be long time customers since I’ve read it even helps with tummy aches as kids get older.
WOW! I have twins and they both had colic - this stuff is amazing. Honestly within minutes of taking this they were calm and usually sleeping. They would go from hysterical, almost choking, to calm or sleeping. I am a skeptic but seeing is believing and using colic calm has made a believer out of me. I live in Canada and had to order through another site. We have ordered 6 bottles in the last 5 months. I tell everyone I know about it. I'd be happy to be a rep. in Canada if you every decided to make it available through your site. Thank you so much for the calm in our house.
Our six week old daughter seems to get a tummy ache every night. I Give her the colic calm at bedtime and she immediately calms down and goes to sleep peacefully. My two older sons were this way until 3 months of age and I just wish that we would have known about your product with them.
- Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child - Janet Zand, N.D., L.Ac., Robert Roundtree, M.D., Rachel Walton, MSN, CRNP
- When Your Baby Won't Stop Crying: A Parent's Guide to Colic - Tonja H. Krautter, Psy.D., L.C.S.W.
- Colic Solved - Bryan Vartabedian, M.D.
- Healthy Child Healthy World - Christopher Gavigan
- Homœopathic Materia Medica - William Boericke, M.D.
- A Guide to Homeopathy - Andrew James
- The Green Pharmacy - James A. Duke, Ph.D.