Caring for Your Crying Newborn Baby

Updated at: Feb 05, 2014
Caring for Your Crying Newborn Baby

Understand why newborn babies cry or why they are colicky. Know about the causes, signs and treatment of your incessently crying newborn.

Arka Roy Chowdhury
Tips for ParentWritten by: Arka Roy ChowdhuryPublished at: Feb 05, 2013

Babies and crying are kind of synonymous to each other but a colicky baby is different. Colic is neither a disease nor is it serious but is actually a common phase in certain newborns which can be difficult for the baby as well as the parents. Learn about colic here.

The term colic is used to describe the uncomfortable crying in a baby who is otherwise healthy.  A baby who is younger than 5 months old and who cries more than three hours in a row on three or more days a week for at least three weeks then chances
are that he or she is colicky. But colic is not a disease so you should not be so alarmed.

crying baby problem

Colic: what is it?

To exactly pinpoint the definition of colic is difficult but it is characterized by continued bouts of crying, irritability and visible discomfort in the baby. A colic baby will be otherwise healthy but a crying bout can continue up to three hours or more in a day. These long crying bouts can occur three or more than three days in a week and can continue happening for more than three weeks at a stretch. Colic is mostly common in the first three months of a newborn’s life. A colicky baby becomes extremely fussy and can contort his body and his face, showing discomfort or pain. Around one-third of all babies can have colic in the initial months after being born and it generally disappears by the end of the first three months. If the long bouts of crying continue, then the baby is suffering from some other health issues.


What are the signs of colic?

Colic occurs in the first three months of the newborn and starts when the baby is around two to three weeks old. A colicky baby will cry without any tangible reasons; mostly babies cry due to hunger, discomfort or the absence of the mother but a colicky baby will have no reason for the long crying spells. A baby suffering from colic will have longs spells of crying mostly at the specific time of the day which is either late in the afternoon or evening. A colicky baby will have spasmodic attacks characterized by bundling up into a ball with thighs against the abdomen and hands drawn tightly inside or stretching out and stiffening the whole body while wailing out aloud. This sudden spasmodic attacks cause the baby’s body especially the face to turn bright red in colour out of discomfort. The spasmodic attacks may be accompanied with passing gas. Colicky babies may or may not pass mucoid stools, as many times even gas or a change in the diet can cause the colic to worsen.

cry baby

What causes colic?

There are no known and established causes of colic as yet. Many theories float around such as milk intolerance or flatulence or certain dietary changes in the baby’s diet or the mother’s diet behind the occurrence of colic. All of the reasons may be playing a part in a colicky baby.


A baby may be breastfed or formula-fed and can be suffering from colic. Dietary changes by the mother in her diet may help to an extent. Colicky babies often suffer from gas but it remains unclear whether the flatulence causes colic or the crying baby unknowingly swallows huge amount of air while crying causing it to be gassy. Since, the baby’s digestive system is not yet fully developed, the gas maybe caused due to indigestion of the mother’s milk or commercial formula. A baby’s personality may also be a reason of the baby being colicky, a baby may find it harder to adapt to the outside world causing it to cry more than normal. Smoking during pregnancy by the mother may cause colic in babies. The causes of colic remain vague and unsubstantiated.


Treatment of colic

Your baby’s crying spells can leave you exhausted as not only is it disturbing but also makes you feel inadequate as a parent. There is no ‘perfect’ solution of colic but certain measures can help your colicky baby.

  • Firstly, ensure your baby is not crying out of hunger. If hunger is not the reason of crying, check for any other discomforts. If neither is a cause you can try the following steps.
  • You might try gently rocking your baby.

It is always best to consult a doctor when you are confused and worried.

Read more articles on Parenting Tips.


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