What is colic in babies?

Colic describes unexplained crying and predictable periods of distress in an otherwise healthy and well-fed baby. It is usually short-lived and starts when a baby is a few weeks old. In most cases, episodes of baby colic peak at about 6 weeks old and will have resolved by four months.

What's the difference between colic and normal crying?

Whilst cCrying is a normal part of development for babies and is the main way that they communicate when they are hungry, angry, in pain or even bored, it can also be a symptom of colic. But, iIt is common for a baby to cry for around two hours each day, but this gradually decreases after six weeks of age.

It can be difficult to differentiate between normal crying and colic. There is no set definition for exactly what colic is and how it differs from other types of crying. But doctors typically agree that colic crying is louder, more intense and higher-pitched than normal crying, sometimes almost like screaming.

Babies with colic also seem inconsolable and tend to cry more throughout the day than babies without colic and crying periods in babies with colic tend to happen daily.

Why does my baby have colic

he medical community still don’t know exactly what causes colic and why some babies develop colic and others do not.

Possible causes of colic include:

  • Food allergies, such as a Cows' Milk Allergy (CMA)
  • A digestive system which hasn’t fully developed
  • An injury or an infection
  • Overfeeding, underfeeding or infrequent burping
  • Imbalance of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Overstimulation - a sensitivity to light, noise, etc.

Colic symptoms

Baby colic generally follows a pattern of three. There are some signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • Curled up legs, with clenched fists or arched back
  • Inconsolable crying like your baby is in pain, but there is no obvious cause
  • Tensed abdominal muscles
  • Turning bright red when crying
  • It’s very hard to settle or soothe your baby
  • They’re very windy or their tummy makes rumbling noises
  • Extreme fussiness.

If you think your baby has colic, it’s important to get in touch with your doctor so they can be examined.

Could my baby have Cows' Milk Allergy?

Colic is a common symptom for babies with CMA.

Babies with CMA usually experience more than just one symptom and these symptoms can be very different from one another.

If you think that your baby has colic, it could be CMA. You may have even noticed other symptoms (besides colic), which may affect other parts of your baby’s body.

crying for more than

For a simple and easy way to understand the symptoms associated with CMA, you can use our symptom checklist or symptom diary to track symptom.

This will allow you to select all the symptoms that your baby may have that can be cows' milk-related. You can then discuss these with your doctor.

In any case, if you have any doubts or concerns about your baby’s health, you should always seek advice from a medical professional as soon as possible.

Colic treatment

Colic may be triggered by certain things, such as having cows’ milk allergy (CMA). There are ways you can avoid these triggers. Read our guide on feeding your baby and managing CMA.

There are also things you can try to help soothe your baby and reduce their crying:

  • Hold, rock and cuddle your baby
  • Wind your baby after feeds
  • Bathe them in a warm bath
  • Sit your baby upright during feeding times
  • Have noise on in the background to distract them, such as the TV, radio or a white noise toy.

If your baby's colic is caused by a food allergy such as CMA, you can try our infant formula, specifically designed to help manage CMA symptoms.

SmilesBack App

Cows’ milk allergy (CMA) is a common food allergy in baby’s and young children but it is often challenging to diagnose and may take many months and doctors appointments. If you suspect that your baby might have cows’ milk allergy, you can use SmilesBack to help shorten the journey to diagnosis and help put smiles back where they belong.

SmilesBack is an easy-to-use app that has been developed with allergy experts and tested by parents. It enables you to easily record your baby’s symptoms and feeds and summarise them in a one-page, expert-designed report, to support your doctor before they make a diagnosis.



IMPORTANT NOTICE: Breastfeeding is the best form of nutrition for babies and provides many benefits to babies and mothers. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, you eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breastmilk, and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. Always consult your healthcare professional for advice about feeding your baby. The social and financial implications of using infant formula should be considered. Improper use of an infant formula or inappropriate foods or feeding methods may present a health hazard. If you use infant formula, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use carefully – failure to follow the instructions may make your baby ill. Formula for special medical purposes intended for infants must be used under medical supervision.