Relieving infant colic

22nd July 2020

A baby crying inconsolably, pushing his legs over his abdomen, hands closed into fists and turning very red... Sound familiar? The baby may have infant colic, a notionally harmless condition that often comes on in the late evening and can last from a few minutes to several hours. It is not easy to deal with for either baby or parents but we have some advice to make the best of it.

Listening to your baby crying loudly for several hours straight without being able to calm him may be just about the greatest of all torments. It is often caused by infant colic, which affects one in four babies. Colic is caused by an immature digestive system and usually appears three weeks after birth and continues worsening until the baby is six weeks old. It then improves gradually and disappears around the third or fourth month.

What is the solution?

In principle, it has no cure as it is not considered a disease. Colic is usually caused by an immature infant digestive system. It is generally associated with gas and intestinal problems, although many factors can increase or reduce its intensity. If your baby is happy during the day, eating well and gaining weight, everything is fine. Once you have ruled out any other reasons for the crying by checking that your baby is not hungry or has a dirty nappy, try to deal with the colic as best as possible with the following recommendations: 

  • The most important thing is that the parents or carers remain calm, talk quietly to the baby and don't be overcome by nervousness.
  • Place your baby face down with one hand holding his stomach. Feeling this warmth can help calm your baby.
  • Break up your routine and change what you are doing. If you are at home, try to get out and take a walk or go for a drive.
  • Try white noise, such as the washing machine or vacuum cleaner. This will remind your baby of his time in the womb and help him relax.
  • Rock your baby. Gentle swaying can be comforting. For this, hold your baby in your arms or in a baby carrier.
  • If you are breastfeeding, avoid stimulants such as coffee, tea and caffeinated drinks.
  • If your baby is already feeding on infant formula, ask your paediatrician about using an easily digestible formula.
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