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Baby colic - what to do?

Baby colic keeps many parents awake at night. It's a painful and uncomfortable ailment of babies that can last for several months. Explore the causes and proven ways to alleviate it.
content-related consultation, Danuta Chrzanowska-Liszewska MD, neonatologist; Aleksandra Łada, NDT SLT Senior Tutor; Agata Serwatowska-Bargieł Ph.D., International certified lactation consultant (IBCLC), neonatologist | 2 April 2014

Colic is a painful and unpleasant condition. It usually appears between 2 and 16 week of age and ceases when the child is 3-4 months old.

During the colic attack the baby cries, flexes his legs, extends and arches back the whole body. It may last for several hours, and usually occurs in the evening or at night.


Often the colic is caused by too rapid milk flow from the breast. The baby drinks greedily, he may choke, and swallow a lot of air. To avoid this, you may try to breastfeed the baby in back lying position, in which milk let down is slower as it flows against gravity.

You can express some milk with a breast pump before you start feeding, to reduce the let down speed and make the latch on easier for the baby. Try to cool your nipple with an ice cube before latching on, it should also slow down the milk flow. Frequent breastfeeding may also be helpful - the child will not be very hungry, he will not be greedily searching for the nipple, and the breast will not be too full. After feeding, it is necessary for your baby to burp.


Colic can be caused by the food you eat. If your child suffers from colic, stop eating heavy and fatty dishes, flatulent fruits and vegetables and savoury spices. Put aside plums, cherries, pears, cabbage, beans, broad beans, broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, garlic and onions. Wait until your child is 3 months old and start slowly to introduce these products, observing the baby's reaction.

Many children are allergic to cow's milk protein, so if your little one suffers from persistent, recurring colic, take him to a pediatrician. If he confirms your concerns, you will have to give up on milk and milk-based products.

Chrzanowska-Liszewska MD,

What are the reasons for colic?

So far no specific reasons have been found, nevertheless tummy pain can be brought about by a number of factors, including:

  • Immaturity of the digestive tract

  • Intestinal neurodevelopmental disorders

  • Transient lactose intolerance

  • Intolerance or allergy to cow's milk protein

  • Overfeeding the baby

  • Disturbed parent - child relationships

Please remember that the baby colic is not a disease and it can be diagnosed after excluding pathological changes, such as urinary tract infections, other infections (e.g. otitis media), malformations of the gastrointestinal and urinary tract, neurological diseases.


Warmth will bring your baby relief. If your baby likes bathing, gently pour warm water on the tummy. You can also put a warm, ironed diaper on the tummy. Check, in advance, whether it is not hot.

Sometimes, even mother or father warmth is enough: you can put the baby with the tummy on your tummy.


A good method for dealing with colic is a systematic massage, performed even a few times a day. You can start it at the end of the first month of your child's life. Do not massage the baby directly after feeding, wait at least half an hour. Do not do it when the baby is already crying, but for example when changing diapers. Regular massages should largely alleviate the symptoms of colic.

Apply baby oil on warm hands. Start the massage with alternate, vertical movements from the top to bottom of the baby's tummy. After several repetitions, bring the little legs to the tummy and gently straighten them. Then imagine a clock on the baby's tummy and draw a semicircle from 12 to 6 with one hand, and a full circle from 6 to 6 with the other. Move your hands clockwise. Repeat the exercise several times, and then slowly bring the legs to the tummy and straighten them.


Your tender touch and warmth soothe the baby and the movements created by carrying massage the tummy and help pass gases. You can carry your child on the shoulder with his arms hanging loosely along your back - just like in a burping position - or you can put the baby on your forearm, tummy down: hold his chest with your hand and his arms and legs hang down freely. You can wear the baby in a sling in a half-lying "cradle" position.


Swaddling soothes infants and reduces symptoms of colic. This increases the feeling of infants' safety, reminding them of the interior of their mom's tummy.

For swaddling, Motherhood swaddling wrap is recommended, in the picture, it does not stiffen and does not overheat your baby like a normal horn. Swaddled baby feels like in mum's tummy with the hands being close to the body, but the legs moving quite freely. The baby is not stiff, so it can freely bend the legs and easily finds an ideal position.


After consulting your doctor you may use herbal teas that support bowel movements and alleviate irritation: fennel, lemon balm. Do not exceed the recommended dose given on the package - too frequent use of fennel tea can cause severe stomach pain.

17 JULY 2017
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