Colic Conundrum: Soothing the Cryptic Fussiness

The exact cause of colic remains unknown, but several theories exist. Some researchers believe that colic may be related to an immature digestive system


As a new parent, few things are as distressing as a baby who cries inconsolably for hours on end. This phenomenon, known as colic, affects up to 25% of infants worldwide. Colic is defined as excessive crying in an otherwise healthy baby, lasting for more than three hours a day, three days a week, for at least three weeks. Despite its prevalence, colic remains a mysterious condition, leaving many parents feeling helpless and frustrated. In this article, we’ll explore the complexities of colic, debunk common myths, and provide evidence-based strategies for soothing a fussy baby.

Understanding Colic:

The exact cause of colic remains unknown, but several theories exist. Some researchers believe that colic may be related to an immature digestive system, leading to gas, bloating, and discomfort. Others suggest that colic could be a result of an overactive nervous system, causing babies to be more sensitive to stimuli and harder to soothe.

It’s crucial to understand that colic is not caused by “bad parenting.” Colic can affect any baby, regardless of feeding method, parenting style, or socioeconomic status. Parents should not blame themselves or feel guilty for their baby’s colic.

Debunking Colic Myths:

One common myth surrounding colic is that it’s caused by a milk allergy or intolerance. While some babies may have a cow’s milk protein allergy, this is a separate condition from colic and requires medical attention. Switching to a hypoallergenic formula or eliminating dairy from a breastfeeding mother’s diet may help in cases of milk allergy, but it won’t cure colic.

Another myth is that colic is caused by a baby’s temperament or personality. Research has shown that colic is not related to a baby’s temperament and does not predict future behavioral issues.

Soothing Strategies for Colic:

While there is no guaranteed cure for colic, several evidence-based strategies can help soothe a fussy baby:

  1. Dietary Changes: For breastfed babies, mothers may consider eliminating potential allergens like dairy, soy, or eggs from their diet. For formula-fed babies, switching to a hydrolyzed or low-lactose formula may help. Always consult your pediatrician before making any dietary changes.
  2. Carrying Positions: Many babies with colic find comfort in being held close and swaddled. The “colic carry,” where the baby is held securely on their stomach with their legs tucked under them, can provide pressure on the abdomen and alleviate discomfort.
  3. White Noise: The sound of white noise, such as a fan, vacuum cleaner, or white noise machine, can help calm a fussy baby by mimicking the sounds of the womb.
  4. Probiotics: Some studies suggest that probiotics may help reduce crying time in colicky babies. Consult your pediatrician about the appropriate probiotic strain and dosage for your baby.
  5. Managing Parental Stress: Caring for a colicky baby can be emotionally and physically exhausting. It’s essential for parents to take breaks, seek support from family and friends, and practice self-care. Remember, it’s okay to put your baby down in a safe place and take a few minutes to regroup if you’re feeling overwhelmed.


Colic can be a challenging and mysterious condition for both babies and parents. By understanding the complexities of colic, debunking myths, and implementing evidence-based soothing strategies, parents can help their babies through this difficult phase. Remember, colic is temporary, and most babies outgrow it by 3-4 months of age.

If your baby’s crying seems excessive, persists beyond the typical colic age range, or is accompanied by other symptoms like fever, vomiting, or poor weight gain, consult your pediatrician to rule out any underlying medical issues.

With patience, love, and a toolkit of soothing techniques, you can navigate the colic conundrum and emerge with a stronger bond with your baby.


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