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What is colic in babies?

In this comprehensive guide, we discuss everything parents should know about infantile colic in babies; e.g. symptoms, diagnosis, possible other illnesses, remedies, and frequently asked questions.

infanile colic (baby colic)Pin

New parents are faced with the task of learning how to manage their newborn’s needs.  Discovering the feeding, diaper changing, and sleep routine take time.  After a few weeks, just when you think that you have figured it out, your baby begins to scream and cry for several hours.  He or she is difficult to console despite your best efforts. 

You soon realize that this is not just a one-time occurrence, but a new nightly pattern.  This phenomenon is often called infantile colic or baby colic and can be a source of frustration and concern for many parents.  Here, we will discuss everything a parent should know about colic in infants.

 

Infantile Colic And How To Deal With It

What is Colic?

Infant colic causes and remediesPin

The definition of infantile colic has been updated from its original description in 1954.  Currently, it is defined as “recurrent and long periods of infant crying, fussing, and irritability reported by caregivers that occurs without obvious cause under the age of five months” (source). 

Some infants develop colic as young as two weeks old, but the onset is later in others. 

Symptoms of illness are absent, and the episodes may last for three or more hours a day (source).  During them, infants appear to experience pain, and calming efforts are often unsuccessful.  They can be particularly distressing when the crying begins at bedtime. 

Colic symptoms ultimately self-resolve around the age of three or four months (source).

Globally, approximately 20% of infants experience colic, including six percent in the United States (source).  Parental report of colic varies with lifestyle and cultural norms.  A higher number of cases are reported in industrialized nations.

What Increases the Risk of Colic?

Despite how frequently colic occurs, no exact cause has been determined. 

Prenatal nicotine exposure has been shown to increase the risk, however (source). 

Some clinical studies have found higher reports of colic among mothers who experience anxiety during their pregnancies, or who have limited social support after their infant’s birth (source)

Other studies noted higher incidences in infants who are born prematurely (source). 

More recent data indicates a link with the infant’s immature intestinal flora.  Infants who experience colic have been found to have less “healthy bacteria” in their gastrointestinal tract (source).

Melatonin may also play a role. This sleep hormone is released by the brain, particularly during dark periods of the day, to help with sleep onset. It also assists with the function of the gastrointestinal tract and the development of its microbiome (source).  At birth, melatonin levels are low but steadily increase by the age of three months. It has been proposed that initially low level of melatonin in the intestines may promote the symptoms of colic (source).

It is safe to say, however, that the etiology of infantile colic is multifactorial, and further research is necessary.

Possible causes of colic

While the exact cause of colic remains unknown, most of the focus has been on its gastrointestinal symptoms.

Excessive intestinal gas that is swallowed during feedings may contribute to these symptoms.  This can be the result of “gassy” foods in the maternal diet for breastfeeding infants, or increased swallowed air from bottle feedings (source).  Broccoli, cauliflower, beans, and caffeinated beverages are common “offending” maternal foods. Overfeeding may also be a factor.

Neuropsychological causes have been proposed.  Overstimulation may contribute to colic.  A day of multiple visitors wanting to “hold the baby,” for example, might result in a fussy baby later that evening. There is preliminary data indicating that colic may be associated with the development of migraine headaches later in life (source).

How Is Colic Diagnosed?

There is no specific test that can be used to diagnose colic.  It is solely diagnosed based on the presence of the classic symptoms and the absence of others. 

Babies with colic exhibit a high-pitched scream or cry incessantly during the colic episodes (source). 

The skin of the face may look flushed or red (blue color is NOT consistent with colic). 

Characteristic movements include clenching of the fists, stiffening of the arms, and pulling the legs or knees toward the chest.

The baby is alert and responsive, despite being difficult to console.  Fever or other signs of illness are absent. The baby is happy, feeds well, voids and stools normally, and sleeps calmly at all other times of the day.

At the routine infant doctor visits, the baby’s exam and growth parameters are within normal limits.

Medical Conditions That Mimic Colic

There are a variety of medical conditions that present with fussiness and crying, but that indicate a more concerning problem.  If your baby has any of the following symptoms, you should consult a doctor.

Note: There has been some discussion of an association of infant colic with the future development of autism. Despite parent perceptions, current research shows no link between these two entities (source).

  1. Infection

An infant who is fighting an infection can exhibit irritability and crying, but lethargy is also common.  Typical infant infections include meningitis, urinary tract infections, and common viral illnesses.  Either a fever or very low temperature may be present.  Under the age of three months, a temperature above 100.4 or below 96.7 degrees F is considered significant and warrants medical evaluation (source).  If your baby is unexpectedly fussy or difficult to console, the first thing to check is a rectal temperature.  True infant colic is never associated with a fever. 

  1. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Some infants experience more than the usual “spit-ups” after feedings.  They feel intense pain from stomach acid regurgitation.  The first signs of GERD may be evident as young as two weeks of age, and symptoms peak by four months old (source).  Premature infants, however, may experience it much earlier (source).  The distress that this pain causes can mimic that of colic, but there is a difference:  GERD is most often associated feeding difficulties.   Infants stop feeding every few sips of milk due to the discomfort, cough or exhibit a “back arching” motion in an attempt to relieve the pain (source).  Other infants will cough and vomit entire feedings.  Weight gain is impaired due to failure to consume enough calories.   Because the reflux of stomach acid is more intense when infants lie flat, placing them in this position elicits a shrill cry due to pain.  This makes sleeping difficult, both for infants and parents.

  1. Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA)

Two to seven percent of infants suffer from CMPA (source).  It may develop as young as two weeks old, noted by streaks of blood mixed within the stool during a diaper change.  Fussiness between feedings is common.  Despite normal feeding schedules, these infants fail to gain weight.  Cow’s milk exposure occurs via breastmilk due to maternal consumption, or from a cow’s milk-based infant formula (source).  In these situations, restricting cow’s milk from the diet if breastfeeding or giving a hydrolyzed infant formula remedies the situation.

Note:  Many parents believe that colic symptoms in infants are a sign of lactose intolerance.  Except for in premature infants, the presence of a gastrointestinal infection, or cases of a rare hereditary type, lactose intolerance is not present in the majority of infants (source).

  1. Hair Tourniquet

Occasionally, a strand of hair catches around an infant’s finger or toe, and manages to wrap around it.  The skin becomes compressed under the hair, causing the surrounding area to swell.  If unnoticed, finger or toe pain develops, resulting in a crying, inconsolable baby (source).  Less tangled hair tourniquets may be loose enough to be removed at home, but emergency medical intervention is necessary when the swelling is significant.  Once the hair has been removed, the infant’s demeanor returns to happy and calm.

 

  1. Bowel Obstruction

Crying with a distended belly in the presence of bilious (green colored) vomiting or decreased stooling are signs of a bowel obstruction.  This occurs in 1:2000 infants each year (source).  A bowel volvulus or malrotation is characterized by intestines that are twisted in a way that prevents normal passage of the intestinal contents.  In other cases, the intestines may not have developed properly in utero, and there is no outlet to the rectum.  Most of these situations are detected within the first few days of life.

Intussusception is a condition where one portion of the intestines folds into itself, similar to how a telescope would function.  This tends to occur intermittently and produces severe stomach pain.  Occasionally, bloody stools are passed.  Intussusception, however, is rare under the age of 6 months (source).

 

  1. Injury

Any fall or impact onto an infant’s abdomen can cause internal organ trauma, eliciting pain and unconsolable crying.  In severe cases, there may be obvious abdominal bruising (source).

Colic Management

  1. Coping Strategies

There is no question that colic symptoms are stressful for parents and caregivers.  Hearing an infant scream is often heartbreaking, and can create feelings of helplessness.  Managing colic is even more difficult in the presence of postpartum depression (source).  Because there is no easy solution for colic, it is important to ask for help.  Enlisting the assistance of extended family and friends can allow parents to get a much-needed “break.” 

Sadly, colicky babies are more likely to be the victims of shaken baby syndrome and other injuries (source).  Colic symptoms and parenting challenges should be discussed with a doctor.  This can both rule out other medical conditions and allow for discussion of ways to reduce the symptoms.  Postpartum depression screening is conducted during the initial well infant visits, and resources are provided when necessary.

  1. Feeding and Gas Management

Making sure not to feed your infant too much or too frequently may help to reduce colic symptoms.  In general, young infants are hungry every two to three hours and take up to three ounces if feeding from a bottle (source).  Efforts to reduce the accumulation of excessive stomach and intestinal gas can help.  Although breastfed infants tend to swallow less air during feedings than those who bottle-feed, taking a “burp break” halfway through feeding can reduce gassiness.  In clinical practice, I recommend “over the shoulder” or “belly down, on the lap” positions for burping.

  1. Medications

There are a variety of over-the-counter colic relief remedies on the market.  Unfortunately, many of them are not clinically proven to be very effective.  Simethicone is often recommended, but research has shown similar results from placebos (source). 

Probiotics, however, appear more successfully to treat colic, especially in breastfed infants (source).  Their effects in boosting intestinal gut flora may be the colic mitigating factor.

  1. Soothing Techniques

Simple measures such as soothing sounds or white noise may help calm a fussy, crying infant.  Motion from rocking, walking, or even a car ride can be soothing (source).  For other babies, offering a pacifier works.  Gently massaging the arms and legs with calming baby oil or lotion can also provide relief.

A warm bath or warm washcloth draped over the belly helps to relax tight stomach muscles. 

Moving the infant’s legs in a “bicycle motion” may help him or her pass more of the accumulated gas.  Doing some “tummy time” can reduce some of the abdominal pressure as well.

  1. Alternative therapies

Fennel tea is a common cultural colic remedy that shows efficacy in some clinical trials (source).  If given in small amounts and not in place of feedings, fennel may provide relief.  Excessive ingestion, however, has been found to cause adverse effects, particularly when transmitted via breastmilk (source).

Chiropractic care for infants has become increasingly popular among parents.  Studies regarding its use for colic have been inconclusive (source).  In addition, current research has shown that acupuncture is an ineffective colic remedy (source).

Common Questions About Colic

  1. Is my colicky baby in pain?

Yes, your baby is experiencing pain, but he or she cannot verbally express it.  It is important to check your infant for any other sources of discomfort, including the conditions that can mimic colic.  If all seems to be fine, you may wish to try some of the suggested soothing techniques and remedies.

2. How do I know if my baby has colic?

The key point to remember is that there should be no signs or symptoms of illness.  According to the current criteria, a baby with colic has recurring episodes of crying, fussiness, and irritability that self-resolve by four months old.  There are no apparent triggers for the episodes, but you see the characteristic clenched fists, stiff arms, and pulling the knees toward the chest.  At all other times of the day, your baby is interactive and feeds, stools, and sleeps normally.

3. How can I get my colic baby to sleep?

Soothing your baby by swaddling, cradling, and offering a pacifier can help.  When this doesn’t work, a warm bath or a brief practice of “tummy time” can help the baby to relax.  Some parents choose to take their baby for a ride in the car, however, he or she often wakes again upon arriving home.

The 5 S’s may provide help.

4. Is colic a sign of autism or other neurological developmental disorder?

Colic is not a sign of autism or other neurological disorders.  If an infant is born with or develops a neurological condition within the first three months of life, there will be other signs.  The expected newborn reflexes are diminished or the baby may have seizures.  In other cases, there may be asymmetry of movement of the arms or legs.

Many of the diagnostic signs of autism cannot be seen or assessed in young infants.  However, at each well visit, babies are examined to be sure they are achieving the appropriate developmental milestones for their age.  12 months old is when the earliest signs of autism can be recognized such as delayed speech or loss of previously achieved developmental skills (source).    Most pediatricians do formal assessments for autism at the 18 and 24-month-old visits.

5. Can a toddler get colic?

No.  Colic self-resolves no later than four months old.  If your toddler is experiencing crying with belly pain, you should call a doctor.  The reason for the discomfort could be a simple as constipation, or as serious as appendicitis or intussusception.

6. Can colic go away and come back?

Colic symptoms can wax and wane over the first few months of life, but completely resolves by four months old.  It does not return after this age.

7. What should I do if I can’t cope with my baby’s colic?

Although the months your infant is experiencing colic may be stressful and difficult, it is important to remember that colic is temporary.  It will end after the baby is three or four months old. 

Sometimes, it just helps to place your infant in a safe location and step away for 10 minutes. 

However, if you are feeling overwhelmed, it is ok to ask for help.  Discussing your situation with a doctor can provide information on ways to soothe your baby and resources for you as a parent. 

You and your spouse or partner should take turns soothing the baby during the colic episodes.  Asking a trusted friend, family member, neighbor to stay with the baby so you to take a break can help you to survive this difficult phase.

If you are sad and feel that colic is affecting your feelings about your baby, seek help from a mental health professional or parent support group.

Takeaway

Having a baby that experiences infantile colic is hard. If you suspect colic, make sure a doctor rules out all other illnesses that may mimic colic. If your baby is healthy, this WILL pass within a few months. Experiment with the colic management strategies suggested in this article and never hesitate to ask for support.

You will get through this!

Paula

Parents’ tips and experiences

To hear what has worked and not, and how other parents have endured the colic times, can be very valuable. Quite a few parents have shared their tips and feelings below in the comment section.

I am so grateful to all of you who take your time to share and thereby help a fellow parent! <3

Please share your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment below!

Research References

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This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Diane

    I am a mother of 3, two of my children are adults, 22 & 19. I never imagined I would be going through the joys of babyhood in my ripe old age of 42!

    After a wonderful pregnancy, and easy birth I was well on my way to being a new mommy again. I remember thinking while still in the hospital how quiet my new little angel was. Always drinking all of her bottle and burping so well. Things changed drastically when we got home! After a few weeks at home that sweet, quiet little angel turned screaming, inconsolable baby! My husband was beside himself, confused at what we could be doing wrong for our child to behave in this way. I soon realized, as my older daughter had colic that we were faced with the same thing with our new little angel.

    I immediately contacted our pediactrician who informed me to switch her formula to a soy based formula. I must admit, after about a week on the new formula, there was some improvement, but she still would go through bouts of crying throughout the evening and early morning hours.

    I found my best defense with her colic was to burp her after one ounce. She was about a month old at this point and was drinking 4 oz. a feeding. Although she would protest at times, the extra burping helped quite abit. We also purchased a bassinet that had music & vibration. The combination of both would help relax her and sleep.

    The other thing I found was a huge help at night was to bath her right before bedtime and then swaddle her tightly and rock her. This helped her to relax which calmed the colic.

    We tried the over the counter medicine which did not help. By 4 months old, our daughter had thankfully outgrown this.

    As I went through this with 2 of my children now, my advice to other parents is a saying my mother has always told me, “This to will pass”. And.. it will!

    Just remember, your sweet child is suffering and its not anything your doing wrong as a parent, she will outgrow this & soon be smiling and happy again!

    1. Nancy

      I had already had two sons and each of them were as far apart as night and day, but when the third one came along, I was totally flabbergasted by how difficult it was with him. I never saw a baby so unhappy in all my life. He would spend hour after hour crying and nothing much helped unless I rocked him.

      I began to wonder if I wasn’t a “bad” mother. I called the doctor to see if there was something wrong with him that I just wasn’t picking up on, but there was nothing. The doctor just said I unfortunately had a colicky baby and he would outgrow it. Not much help! I wondered if I was going to be able to survive this.

      It was torture to do the simplest thing like grocery shopping. Here I was toting two younger children with me and had him in his baby carrier and I could never finish the shopping without him screaming, red-faced. Everyone had advice, but nothing worked.

      I don’t envy anyone who has a baby like this. It took six months until he outgrew this. Try to be strong; it WILL end!

  2. Danielle

    My little girl started crying after feeding then all the time from around 4-5 weeks on. She was so perfect before then at first I thought something was wrong with her, but no it was normal onset time for colic and that’s what we had – a colic baby :(

    The causes we were given included the possibility of the baby not getting the right bacteria in her belly to digest with, usually a problem for formula fed babies as babies get their bacteria from their mothers breast milk but also if a breastfeeding mother doesn’t have the right bacteria to pass on the baby can still have trouble. Since I had IBS and realized I had a high possibility of not having the right bacteria we did research and found that babies with colic had a 95% improvement rate when given a probiotic called Lactobaciullus Reuteri. I’m in Australia and no infant products containing this bacteria are sold here, so we bought some from amazon at stupid cost but it did seem to help. Biogaia probiotic drops is the product.

    I also cut milk out of my diet and dragged out my feeding times from every 2 hours (she would wake up screaming and feeding was the only thing that would move the gas bubbles along so I would feed her after 2 hours) to a minimum of three, if she needed to move gas pockets before three we would give her a bottle of water. This was because newborns digestive systems really only properly move things along the next time they feed – which is why you hear all the gurgles and clunks when you feed! But overfeeding milk can cause undigested sugars to get into the lower gut and once available to the bacteria naturally present there they go nuts and produce large quantities of gas – just like how beer brews. So stopping undigested milk sugar (lactose) from getting past the stomach is also important, and not overfeeding or feeding too frequently can help if this is the problem.

    She was also horribly hard to burp, and sometimes I would give up after 30 minutes of trying to burp her with no result. I learned not to stop trying to burp her until I got something out, even if it meant leaving her as upright as possible in a vibrating bouncer to help bring the wind up. She had enough gas without swallowed air contributing to her pain.

    We also took precautions against reflux in case this was contributing, elevating the head of her bedding by putting a filled (but cold) hot water bottle under her mattress at the pillow end, not putting her to sleep, laying her down or putting pressure on her stomach just after eating, and using a product containing bicarbonates to cut down any excess acid in her belly after feeds. This product also has anise oil in it which was mentioned as perhaps helping, and fennel oil which likewise studies have shown help.

    So what worked? All or none, at 12 weeks she is a new baby, lovely, smiling, happy, but she may merely have grown out of it. I’m so glad it’s finally over because it was very hard on her and us as well.

    I mention all these things because we were desperate to be doing everything to help we possible could and I’m sure other parents will also want to know everything they might try. But hang in there you will get through it and your baby will have a closer bond with you for all the care and time (and tears) you gave them.

  3. Juanita

    I will never be able to forget those months when our baby had colic!

    There were a few methods which helped us survive her colic:

    1) I was a breastfeeder, so I tried to deal with the issue by modifying my own diet. There was a tea by a company called “Traditional Medicinals” – Mother’s Milk Tea. Something about the ingredients really had a positive impact on my fussy baby. The tea also had the side benefits of helping relax Mom (me!) so that the let-down process was improved, as well as the volume of milk produced.

    2) In addition to the strategy of improving my diet, our doctor showed us a way of holding our baby which we dubbed “the crotch hold.”

    Mom or Dad places the baby on their arm with the baby’s head facing toward their hand. Baby’s tummy is then lying along the arm, while baby’s legs are straddling the bicep, or upper arm. Mom or Dad then proceed to go about their daily routine one-handed, while baby calms down because s/he is receiving warmth and massage along the tummy area.

    3) As a last resort, we would play music and wear a groove in the floor while utilizing the crotch hold. For some reason, The Beatles song “Come Together,” was good at distracting our baby from her own howls.

    We also developed a shameless strategy in which we invited one of our single friends over for a home-cooked dinner; we then showed them the crotch hold, and handed them the howling baby so that they could pay for their dinner by deepening the groove we had worn in the living room floor walking baby back and forth.

    The only thing about this strategy is that you have to make sure that your single friends don’t know each other, or the ploy will only work one time.

    Just remember, this too shall pass. You’ll remember these days fondly in the future when you and your partner are sitting up at 1:30 a.m. frantically wondering why your “baby” isn’t answering their cell phone.

  4. Joy

    My son was born 37 weeks and spent 7 days in the NICU where he was a perfectly normal sleepy and hungry baby.

    Soon after bringing him home I noticed that he would begin to cry and there was no reason. He was full, dry, and warm but he would cry and cry.

    Being a new mom I thought I was doing something wrong that was making him this way.

    It was even tougher at night when I was exhausted and he would cry non stop and my boyfriend works so he would have a hard time getting up, if he got up at all, to help.

    I began to notice that I was tired, irritable, angry, and depressed all the time. I would look at my son and actually be infuriated that he was crying again and my pediatrician gave me no hope saying, ” it’ll get better by 4 months.”

    FOUR MONTHS!

    Finally, I was so exhausted I moved back in with my parents and between 3 of us, it wasn’t so bad.

    We found tricks like walking him, singing, swaddling, carrying him on his stomach instead of his back, and rocking him.

    Then came the answer I had been praying for. I saw a different pediatrician who told me he thought my baby might just have acid reflux.

    He gave me a prescription for Zantac which my son takes twice a day and like magic, the crying subsided.

    Don’t get me wrong he still cries but not with the intensity like before.

    We also began burping more frequently during feedings to alleviate his gas pains and it’s like I have a brand new baby. Now I’m trying to teach him to fall asleep without having to be in anyone’s arms.

    Since he spent the first 3 months sleeping in peoples arms now he has trouble being laid down to sleep but we’re working at it and living back with my boyfriend.

    It is still hard and he’s not quite sleeping through the night but that’s our next thing on the list to work on.

    Hang in there everyone! It can and will get better.

    1. Paula @ EasyBabyLife

      Thank you so much, Joy!

      I hear quite often about children who are diagnosed reflux but only after having been diagnosed colicky for a while. Just like your “terrible” son.

      Great that you didn’t give up, but got a second opinion!

      Good luck with your beautiful little boy!

  5. Desperate

    Our baby is now 2 months old she suffers constantly from what our doc and specialist called colic; pain and discomfort passing wind and bowel movements, pulling legs to chest and hands closed and pushing them into her face pain crying and deep screaming when it really hurts.

    The specialist got her poo tested and the result was normal. But she is not. We have it very bad at about 5 pm till 8.30 pm.

    I have 2 days where she will sleep in the day with no pains but then it starts all over again she would wake up from a deep sleep scream?

    I thought it was from not doing a poo as we have bowel problems too but she some times still wakes up screaming with an empty bowel. She is on formula and have tried 6 different ones and have tried drops.

    I don’t know what else to do?

    1. Andie

      Hi,
      My son is 3 months old now. He was very sick when he was born and had to stay at sick kids for a month.

      We came home when he was 1 month and he cried for almost 12 to 14 hours every day. My doctor told me he had colic.

      I give him Woodwards gripe water oval drops only when he is very upset. Massaging his tummy with olive oil helps, swaddle him, hold him upright keep tapping his back gently and put very soothing music on. That really helps.

      If u give ur baby bath and feed him swaddle him and hold him upright to burp before he goes to bed he will sleep through the night. My son sleeps for about 10 hours at night and only gets up once to feed. Never feed ur baby and bath him.

      My doctor suggested Similac lactose free formula that I think helped a lot and if u are breast feeding don’t drink milk.

      :) I hope it helps

    2. Colicky

      I was lucky with my twin girls, but not so lucky with my son. My son was born 4 years after my daughters. He was healthy when he was born, but when he was 10 weeks old, he developed colic.

      It was the longest 12 weeks I have ever experienced. After we could think past all of the headache’s and few nights of no sleep, we began to notice a different cry. This cry sounded different and was mostly after meals. We took our son to the doctor and discovered that he had colic.

      I had read about many different types of massages that would help to soothe a colicky baby. My husband and I would massage him after ever feeding and this did help the situation, but it didn’t make the situation go away right away.

      I must say this was a very hard time on our whole family, but after 12 weeks it slowly went away. It takes lots of love!

  6. Albert Garcia

    Our baby girl has been suffering from colic since she was 3 weeks old. Our baby was not breast fed but was bottle fed with formula. We believe the bottles and formula gave the baby colic. We tried to change the bottle but that did not work.

    Finally, we listened to my mother and father about a CUBAN remedy. The remedy was to boil some drinking water and once it starts to boil put in some Star Anise. You could usually find it in a the Latino section of the market where all the teas and dry herbs are at.

    Leave the star anise in the water for about 5min the drain the water through a strainer. Let the water cool down a bit.

    Our baby is drinking 4oz. So what we do is split it in half (2oz of water with anise and 2 oz baby formula).

    TRUST ME THIS HAS WORKED SO MUCH FOR US. She no longer cry’s from COLIC. I would like to know if this remedy worked on your baby as it has on ours?

    1. Paula @ EasyBabyLife

      Hi Albert,

      Thanks a lot for sharing your experiences with a remedy that helped your baby. Actually, I am not surprised, because star anise, just as “regular” anise is a herb known to help bloated stomachs as is actually also know to help for infant colic.

      However, back in 2003 and 2004, there was some research that found that a number of babies as well as adults that had used herbal tea with star anise had shown signs of intoxication, such as jitteriness, hyperexcitability, nystagmus, vomiting, myoclonic movements, and seizures.

      Therefore, the FDA recommended that star anise should NOT be used to treat infant colic.

      The conclusions from the research was that it might be so that these teas not only included Chinese star anise, which is safe, but also Japanese star anise, which does contain some toxins.

      On the other hand, it could not be excluded that the infants has actually been poisoned by the Chinese star anise.

      You can read about one of the studies on infant colic and star anise here.

      Due to this, FDA recommends against using star anise for colic.

      However, there is another related herb that you can try – anise. Use 1 teaspoon of anise seeds in one cup of water. Boil for a few minutes, cool down and feed to your baby 1 or 2 tea spoons with every meal.

      From what I’ve read, anise is considered completely safe.

      Sorry if I let you down, Albert, but I thought this information was important to provide!

      Paula

  7. Leslie

    When my second was just 6 months old we were thrown into that stress filled role of “parents of a baby with colic”. I honestly don’t think our son slept more than a hour at a time – ever. We never got any rest and neither did he. Our first child had been easy – now we were adapting to a baby that cried all the time and just never seemed happy no matter what we did. Multiple doctors appointments brought us a diagnosis – colic – but no relief or care.

    Then a neighbor suggested I take our son to a chiropractor for a checkup. She insisted that if the baby needed a spinal alignment, it could be causing the problem. She swore it had worked for a friend of hers. I was skeptical so I asked for the friends number and, through her, the parents of the baby in the story. Sure enough, they swore it worked. I got the doctors number and called.

    We took our son in for a check up, the chiropractor identified a spinal misalignment in the upper back and adjusted our son. He fell asleep on the way home and slept for 4 hours. A record! He seemed much better when he woke up. We took him back a few days later for another check up and adjustment and that was the end of his colic. It was amazing.

    We were so thankful for the care he received, we refer all our friends to that chiropractor now.

    1. MommyofcolickyQuin

      I have an almost 6 week old baby who, I think, has colic. I don’t see a chiropractor myself but believe they help with many things.

      I just want a happy baby! I have him on a gentle formula, a special “proven to reduce colic” bottle, I swaddle him, rock him, white noise, etc. He sleeps ok at night but during the day he just doesn’t seem happy.

      One thing I noticed is that when I pick him up, he cries like I’m hurting him… maybe this misalignment thing?? I just don’t know!

      What would I tell a chiropractor to look for or try if I were to do this?

      1. Paula

        Leslie, how wonderful that your baby was helped by the spinal alignment! Actually research is quite conflicting on whether this treatment may help children with colic or not. Several studies do find some relief, but not for all children – which for me isn’t surprising at all, since I believe colic can be caused by different underlying problems.

        Interestingly, a research study, published in May 2011, did find chiropractic treatment a viable option for babies with colic. You find the article among the reference links above.

        So, MommyofcolickyQuin, why not give it a try? If you can find a respectable chiropractor who is used to treating infants, the treatment will be no worse than ineffective and may actually cure your baby, or at least mitigate the severity of the colic.

        On what to tell the chiropractor; describe your baby’s problems. The best is if you can find a chiropractor who has treated infants with colic before, or at least infants in general. I believe a good chiropractor will be able to tell you what may be the problem if examining your baby.

        Good luck!

    2. Jennifer

      We have a similar good experience!

      Right at 4 weeks old our son started wailing every night. Couldn’t get him comfortable, and all signs were pointing to colic. I took him to the pediatrician yesterday morning and after an examination the doctor told me that ‘sometimes their backs are out of alignment’ and adjusted our baby.

      After his initial crying from the shock of it he quieted right down and fell asleep. He actually slept through the majority of the day. That night, once he was swaddled up tight and warm, he fell asleep and didn’t give us any problems. I actually got 5 hours of sleep last night!!

      We go back on Wednesday to have a check up and possible adjustment again – but so far, fingers crossed, it worked for us as well!

      1. Paula

        Wonderful, Jennifer, and thank you so much for taking the time to share. I really hope the spinal alignment helps long-term for your son, so the colic tendencies are now gone for good.

        Sweet dreams ;-)

  8. Georgia

    I have a 2 year old son and a 3 wk old baby girl who both have had and are experiencing colic. My son had a blood disorder when he was born but went away within 1 week. As soon as I brought him home I was so happy until he started having long periods of crying where no matter what I did, his father, grandmother, etc did, nothing worked.

    I had a lot of feelings of guilt like I was a bad mother, because it was very frustrating to not be able to calm my child. I also was getting no sleep because not only do colic babies have a lot of crying spells, but they don’t sleep frequent as normal babies do or for long periods of time.

    When my son was 2 months old, his pediatrician finally said try using Similac Alimentum (very expensive btw). It was a miracle for us because that seemed to do the trick for the most part, plus buying bottles that helped with gas.

    My son, who is 2 today is normal and a great and very happy toddler.

    I also have a 3 wk old newborn, who is also showing similar symptoms of colic. Not as bad as my son was… My daughter still seems to cringe when laying down like she is in pain, has a lot of gas, and mostly has her crying spells at night (where as my son cried all day and night). So we haven’t found a treatment for her quite yet but I’m taking her to the doctor tomorrow to ask what they think about me putting her on Alimentum as well. (Be careful when switching formula since it may cause gas or bowel movement problems as well)

    The only advice I can give to a parent is to definitely have a good support system (grandparent, husband, sister etc) because you NEED to have a break or you’ll go crazy and remember this WILL go away!

    You’re not a bad parent.

    1. Paula @ EasyBabyLife

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience with colic in babies and for the tip to switch to Similac Alimentum.

      Did your baby’s doctor discuss protein sensitivity with you? Many babies that are helped by Alimentum are actually sensitive to milk protein. In Alimentum, these proteins are broken down into such tiny pieces that even babies that are allergic to cow’s milk protein can digest them without a problem.

      The tendency to develop allergies is often hereditary, so if some kinds of allergy run in your family, it wouldn’t be too strange if both of your children develop it too.

      Another interesting possible cause of infant colic is acid reflux. Babies with acid reflux are in pain since the stomach fluid travels back up into their throat. Acid reflux is more common in some families than in others and hence may also have a hereditary component to it.

      Hope this helps,

      Paula

  9. Mia

    My son had colic for 4 1/2 months. He cried day and night and we did not sleep. Instead, I walked the floor with him trying my best to offer what comfort I could. We did not sleep much and when we did it was with my son sleeping on my chest with me in the middle of my bed with pillows stacked on both sides to prevent any falls. I knew it was not the ideal way for either of us to sleep, but it was the only way we got ANY! If your baby has colic there will be moments when you feel you can’t go on and life can start to seem unfair, but it will get better. Just hang on to that and keep going for the sake of your child. My son is now a happy and healthy ten month old that is walking and talking up a storm. Bless all who have this issue with their child. I was more exhausted with this than when I was working full time job that required travel and going to college taking double full time schedule. Peace be with you and know that your child is
    a gift and cherish even these hardest of times for they will make you appreciate the good times when they come.

  10. Janet

    I was living a nightmare with my colicky baby! It was just so sad to see my daughter in pain not only in the evenings but practically ALL DAY! Nothing would settle her and I tried absolutely everything so just ended up crying with her because I felt so helpless and alone with this problem. I had no sleep and neither did she. It was the hardest, most stressful thing I’ve ever been through. I would rather go through labour pain again than see my baby suffer the way she did with severe colic and the doctors just kept telling me she will grow out of it.. all I wanted was a cure!

    Anyway at the time it feels like a lifetime of suffering but colic really does go away. For us, it gradually started getting better at 4 months! :-)

    All you need is patience remember it is not your baby’s fault she / he’s in pain… I could never get angry at her… my sympathy and love for my daughter helped me get through it and now she’s a healthy happy 9 month old :-)

    If I managed to get through colic almost 24 hours a day for 4 whole months TRUST ME so can you xx