Colic Cries: How To Hold A Crying Baby?

Written by Dr. Pakanich Maria Petrivna on Mon, 11 December 2023

Key Highlights

  • Colic is a condition where a healthy baby cries uncontrollably for no apparent reason. It is characterized by crying for more than 3 hours a day for at least 3 days a week.
  • Colicky babies can be challenging to soothe, causing stress for parents. Colic typically starts a few weeks after birth and worsens around 4 to 6 weeks of age.
  • It affects babies during the first 3-4 months of life, starts suddenly, and often resolves by 3 to 6 months.
  • Look for signs such as low appetite, vomiting, strange crying, difficulty breathing, and other alarming symptoms.
  • Avoid stressing; colic usually improves with time, and seeking support from family and friends is advisable.

Worried Why Your Baby Is Crying?

Colic is a condition in which a healthy baby starts to cry uncontrollably for no clear reason. How to differentiate a colic cry from a normal cry? The colic cry is often defined as crying for more than 3 hours a day for at least 3 days a week.

Babies crying because of colic are difficult to soothe. Sometimes a parent may feel helpless. In addition, managing a baby’s colic can add more stress to an already tired or stressed parent. Colic can start a few weeks after birth and becomes worst during 4 to 6 weeks of age.

Are you wondering how to figure out if the baby is crying because of colic? Here are a few symptoms that may help you understand colic!

Worried Why Your Baby Is Crying?

How To Know If The Baby Is Crying Due To Colic

  • Babies crying for no obvious reason like feeding or diaper change
  • Crying around the same time every day
  • Either clenching their fists or curling their legs while crying
  • Turning bright red while crying
  • Crying as if they are in extreme pain

A point to note is that when a baby cries, they swallow air. This may lead to problems like gas, making the tummy look tight. Passing gas or having a bowel movement may show some relief

Causes Of Colic

Doctors are yet to find a solid cause that could justify colic. However, some contributing factors of colic may include:

  • Overfeeding or not feeding enough
  • Pain or discomfort because of gas or indigestion
  • Poor digestive system
  • Overstimulation
  • Form of a childhood migraine;
  • Reaction to excitement, fear or frustration

Key Points About Colic

  • It affects babies during the first 3-4 months of life
  • It begins suddenly, turning into loud and nonstop crying
  • It goes away on its own, sometimes when the baby is 3 to 6 months of age
  • Colicky babies can be difficult to calm down
  • Trying on different calming techniques or trying out a different method to feed the baby can help soothe the baby

Make sure you talk to your baby’s healthcare provider before making any changes to your baby’s diet or feeding method. It will help you make well-informed choices.

The Colic Hold Explained

The Colic Hold Explained

The babies experiencing colic may respond well to being held in your arms. You can try the colic hold or colic carry to soothe a crying baby. To soothe the baby,

  1. Hold your baby face down across your arm
  2. Gently rub or pat the baby’s back

Other ways to hold the baby include,

  • Holding the baby upright
  • Holding the baby while walking
  • Holding the baby in the evening
  • Rocking the baby gently in your arms or like that in an infant swing

Things to avoid while holding a baby

  • Don’t hold a baby if you are feeling tense or depressed. Ask a family or friend for help while you take some rest.
  • Avoid shaking the baby. Shaking the baby can have dangerous effects on the baby like brain damage, blindness and even death.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and don’t have any help, you can lay down the baby in the crib or a safe space and leave the room for some time to relax.

When To See A Doctor?

If you think you need to see a doctor for colic, look for these signs in your baby:

  • Low appetite (drinking less milk than usual)
  • Vomiting
  • Loose stool
  • Not sucking the milk bottle well
  • A cry that sounds strange
  • Difficulty breathing

Some signs of breathing difficulty include:

  1. Breathing rapidly
  2. Flaring nostrils
  3. Coughing
  4. Grunting
  5. Retracting (baby pulling the chest in)
  6. Body turns blue
  • Becoming more irritable when held or touched
  • Sleepier than usual
  • Fever of 100.4℃

If you see any of these symptoms, contact your baby’s doctor or healthcare provider.

Things To Avoid If Your Baby Has Colic

If you are breastfeeding the baby, certain foods can pass through the breast milk and trigger the baby’s colic.

If your baby has colic and you are breastfeeding, avoid these foods for a few weeks and see if it helps:

  • Caffeine
  • Chocolates
  • Dairy products
  • Nuts

The baby may be allergic to these food substances and avoiding them can bring comfort to your baby. In addition, apart from food, other substances can trigger colic.

These include the following-

  • Medicines:If you are breastfeeding, consult your doctor about the medicines you take.
  • Baby formula: Some babies might be sensitive to certain kinds of baby formula. You can consult your doctor about switching to an alternative.
  • Overfeeding: Overfeeding or fast feeding can trigger colic. If you are bottle-feeding the baby, it should take about 20 minutes. If the baby is feeding too fast, you can always switch to a nipple with a smaller hole. Anti-colic nursing bottles can be used that has an air vent built.

Conclusion: Don’t Stress, It Gets Better with Time

Colic is a common condition among infants and dealing with colic can be quite stressful for parents. However, in most cases, colic is nothing to worry about and passes with time. You can try various comforting techniques to soothe your baby such as the colic carry or hold. However, if your child is showing additional symptoms and you feel the need to check in with a healthcare provider, don’t hesitate to ask for professional help. Taking support from family and friends is also a good choice.


Dr. Pakanich Maria Petrivna

Dr. Pakanich Maria Petrivna graduated from Ukraine's Uzhhorod National Medical University, Faculty of Medicine, in 1999. She further pursued her post graduation studies at Lviv National Medical University between 1999-2000. She then spent 16 years (2000-2016) at the same university as the resident doctor neurologist. Since 2016,Dr. Pakanich Maria Petrivna has been associated as a medical representative with Mega We Care.

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