What is colic?

Colic is a common condition that is frustrating for parents and caregivers. Colicky babies have long periods of inconsolable crying and hard-to-calm behavior, but have no signs of failure to thrive. The fact that crying occurs for no apparent cause is one of the main reasons it is distressing and worrisome for parents. This type of crying typically peaks at approximately six weeks of life and ends around the fourth month.  Up to 26 per cent of infants have colic, making the condition one of the most frequent reasons for visiting the pediatrician.



Does my baby have colic?

The most common diagnostic criteria for colic is if the child is under the age of five months and has recurrent and prolonged periods of crying, fussing, or irritability that occur without obvious cause and cannot be prevented or resolved by caregivers. The infant should not show any evidence of failure to thrive, fever or illness. This type of crying typically peaks at approximately six weeks of life and ends around the fourth month.


What causes colic?

The short answer is: no one really knows for sure. There are probably several causes – psychological, social as well as biological. For example, food allergy and disturbed gut motility, how the stomach and intestines move, have all been discussed as possible explanations. In recent years, the role of our gut bacteria has come into focus and studies have shown that babies with colic have lower counts of good bacteria as well as increased number of harmful bacteria in their digestive tracts. This can cause all sorts of digestive problems, including colic.

Read more about our gut bacteria



Gut motility = a good gut feeling

Gut motility is a term that describes the contractions of the muscles that are responsible for breaking down and moving food from the stomach, through the intestines, to the bowels. In other words how a child’s digestive system works. If the child’s gut motility is not fully developed or disrupted for some reason, this may cause pain and excessive gas and lead to unfortunate and frustrating results like colic, constipation or regurgitation.


Key facts about colic

  • One of four babies are diagnosed with colic
  • Colic usually ends around the fourth month
  • A colicky baby is not an unhealthy baby
  • The crying is often worse in the evening hours, but can be present at other times as well
  • The etiology of colic is multifactorial and not fully understood
  • Colicky infants have been seen to have a lower number of certain type of healthy gut bacteria
  • Colic usually reaches it peak at the age of six to eight weeks