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Colic in babies: Advice for parents and over-the-counter remedies

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Parents with babies suffering from colic will need to be reasured that the crying is not their fault

Colic affects one in five babies and is the name given to a period of excessive, frequent crying in a healthy baby. Colic commonly begins when a baby is a few weeks old and normally stops around 4 to 6 months of age. Colic can be very difficult for parents and carers and can lead to worry, sleep deprivation, and anxiety.1

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms of colic include:

  • Crying that appears more intense than at other times
  • Crying in the late afternoon or evening which can last for several hours
  • The baby’s face appearing red and flushed when crying
  • Clenching of the fists
  • Drawing up of their knees to their stomach
  • Arching their back whilst crying.1

Whilst the baby appears to be distressed, the crying episodes are not harmful and most babies continue to feed well and gain weight normally.1

What causes colic?

The cause of colic is unknown; however, it is believed to be linked to indigestion, trapped wind, or temporary gut sensitivity to certain proteins and sugars found in breast and formula milk. Colic occurs equally in boys and girls and there is little difference between breast- and bottle-fed babies.1

Advice for parents

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