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Colic Information

To view our range of colic treatments please visit our main colic page.
Colic Advice

Colic, also known as gripe, infant colic, baby colic and three-month colic, affects around 10-15% of children. It usually begins in the first few weeks of a baby's life and continues for around three months. Colic is generally defined as inconsolable crying with episodes of fussiness and irritability in an otherwise healthy baby. This happens frequently and for extended periods of time without apparent cause or reason.

During bouts of colic, babies can look agitated and appear to be in pain; they may draw their legs up to their stomach, arch their backs and experience a reddening of the face. This can be extremely distressful for parents, especially as there seems little they can do to console their child.

Colic at a Glance

  • Colic affects around 10-15% of children.
  • Colic generally affects a child for the first three months of their life.
  • It is characterised by bouts of inconsolable crying and screaming, often for hours at a time.
  • Babies can appear agitated and in pain during bouts of colic, they may arch their backs, clench their fists and draw their legs up to their stomach.
  • The bouts of crying occur at generally the same time everyday and are generally wore in the late afternoon and evening.

Causes of Colic

Unfortunately, doctors are yet to conclusively establish the cause of colic. Traditional thinking has always linked colic to gastrointestinal sensitivities in young children. Perhaps the most popular theory is that colic is caused by the baby's intestines being overworked and experiencing some form of cramping. Another popular theory is that colic is a reaction to abdominal discomfort caused by gas trapped in the intestines.

Some other theories on the possible cause of colic include: eating too fast, swallowing too much air while eating, intolerance to lactose and the maturing of the digestive system. While no theory has been universally accepted or discredited, recent studies have pointed to gut flora being the possible root of the problem. The studies have shown that babies prone to colic have different gut flora patterns that include a lack of Lactobacillus acidophilus, a bacteria that ferments sugars into lactic acid.

Symptoms of Colic

Some babies seem more prone to colic than others; the condition is more common amongst bottle-fed babies, but can still occur in breast-fed children.

The main symptoms of colic are: loud, inconsolable crying, fussiness and irritability, bowel pains, the drawing of feet up under the body and clenching of fists, rumbling stomach, red face, and excessive wind-breaking. The crying can occur at any time, but it generally gets worse late in the afternoon and in the evening, and occurs at roughly the same time every day. It can last for two or three hours at a time and can't be comforted.

Please remember that colic may not be the only cause of your baby's crying and discomfort. Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor before you decide that your child has the condition.

What is the Difference Between Colic and Gripe?

None; they are the same thing. Colic is the name of the condition, and while gripe, or griping to be more precise, is the adjective used to describe the gastric or intestinal pain experienced, both have become common terms to describe the same condition.

Relieving Colic

As the cause of colic is yet to be firmly established, there is no sure-fire way of providing relief for your baby. There are, however, several methods and products that can help to ease the symptoms.

Treatments - we sell several products that can help ease the pain and discomfort of colic.
  • Infacol is our most popular treatment for colic. Infacol works on the symptoms of colic by acting on the bubbles of wind within the gut, drawing them together to form larger bubbles that are easier for your baby to expel. Many of our customers have found Infacol to be highly effective.
  • Ashton & Parsons Infants Powders are a herbal remedy that can help ease pain and gastric upset. They are traditionally used for teething troubles but have proved effective in relieving symptoms also associated with colic.
  • Colief Infant Drops are a food supplement that can be added to a baby's milk before feeding to reduce the hours of crying and discomfort caused by colic. It contains a lactase enzyme, making it an effective treatment when the cause of colic is a deficiency in this enzyme.
  • Gripe water is a traditional remedy for colic based on sodium bicarbonate. We sell two brands: Nurse Harvey's Gripe Mixture and Woodward's Gripe Water. Both provide rapid relief from wind, griping pains and stomach upset.
Comforting - gently rocking your child in a rocking chair, cradle or your lap may help to calm them down and soothe their irritability. Wrapping them in a blanket and holding them close while you walk around is another good way of comforting them, as the warmth and movement of your body may help to relax them.

Massage - gently rubbing or massaging your baby's stomach may also provide relief. Moving your hand in a delicate circular motion from left to right will help to reduce discomfort and help your infant pass any trapped wind.

Singing - monotonous sounds such as a low humming or soft, steady singing can help soothe a child. Gentle music or continuous vibrations from an appliance such as a washing machine or vacuum cleaner may also help.

Sucking - allowing your baby to suck on a dummy, bottle or breast will provide some comfort.

Feeding - if you are using formula milk, it may be worth asking your GP about brands that are suitable for colicky babies. Using anti-colic teats with the baby's bottle may also help. If you are breast-feeding, it may be worth checking your diet to see if anything you are eating could be the cause of your child's colic. It is unlikely but some doctors think that if a mothers diet includes food that can cause gas, this may aggravate the situation. Foods to be cautious of include orange juice, cabbage, onions, apples, spicy food, and food and drinks containing caffeine.

Coping with Colic

Colic can be very distressing. It can disrupt family life and prove stressful and frustrating for first-time parents. Not being able to comfort your young child can be a very upsetting and overwhelming experience, so it is important that you also remember to look after yourself during this challenging period.

If there are two of you, work together to share the baby's crying times and ensure that the other partner gets time to rest. If you are a single parent then you should ask a family member or close friend for assistance.

If you are feeling the strain, we have a range of tonics and supplements that may help you with stress and sleeplessness.

Please remember that colic is only temporary and your child will soon outgrow it.

To view our range of products please visit our main colic page.
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