ColicDoes your baby just seem to scream all the time, or at a specific time each day, for no apparent reason?

You have checked that she is dry, warm, fed and comfortable and yet the screaming does not seem to stop?

 Well, your baby could be suffering from Colic. Colic is defined as periods of crying, fussiness and discomfort that last longer than three hours a day, for more than 3 days a week and 3 weeks or more, and is not caused by a medical condition.

 You don't need to feel alone, nor that you have done something wrong, as Colic is believed to affect up to 40% of babies in early infancy.


What Causes Colic?

You are not going to like this answer...No one really knows the cause of Colic.

It is believed to be any one of the following... or perhaps a reason not even listed here!

Your baby may be suffering from one or more of the following:


Symptoms of Colic

Symptoms of ColicColic is different in every baby.

The symptoms vary as do the timing and duration of the crying periods.

Your baby may experience all, or only some, of these symptoms. Some of these symptoms below will also occur from time to time in a perfectly healthy baby. But when in doubt always seek advice from your Health Care Practitioner.



Tips to surviving Colic

  • Ask for help. A screaming baby can wear down anyone's nerves. And crying that goes on for hours on end can be stressful and exhausting, leaving you feeling flattened and incompetent. Seek help from friends and family, so that you can have a break and keep your sanity. Even a shower and an undisturbed meal can lift your spirits.


  • Change scenery or go outside. The distraction will be good for both you and your baby. It may take your baby's attention away from the reason they were crying, and screaming outside never seems as loud as inside a house.



Holding and Carrying techniques

  • Carry your baby in a Baby Wrap or Carrier. The baby will like to feel close to you and the warmth, on their tummy, from you, may help to ease symptoms. This will also free up your arms to get other chores done, or do activities with older children.
  • Try the Colic hold: Holding your baby over your forearm, so that its legs, near your elbow, and arms near your wrist, hang on either side of your arm, their tummy rests on your arm, and head in the palm of your hand. This can provide some relief, as it places pressure on the stomach region and may help the baby to pass winds. You can even put a warm pack between your arm and their tummy for added relief.

Natural Remedies and Treatments

  • Natural remedies  have shown positive results in the treatment of Colic in some babies. However some homeopathic remedies  have been found, in certain cases, to contain dangerous ingredients that are harmful to babies, so please always consult your Health Care Practitioner before using any remedy on your baby.
  • Gripe Water  (use tried and tested brands ONLY!!) can be useful in helping your baby to pass winds and ease their discomfort. This is a treatment used for decades and will probably be recommended by your grandmother!
  • Probiotics have been found to help strengthen your baby's digestive system, thereby improving Colic. See more information about this option in the section 'Probiotics and Colic'.


The information in this article was reviewed for medical accuracy by, Paediatrician and Allergy Specialist, Dr Claudia Gray (MBChB (UCT), MRCPCH (London), MScClin Pharm(Surrey), DipPaedNutrition (UK), PostgradDipAllergy (Southampton), Certified Paediatric Allergologist (SA))

Dr Gray works at the allergy clinic at the Red Cross Children's Hospital in Cape Town, and has a private practice at Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Cape Town, contact 021 531 8013.