Everything You Need To Know About The Mysteries Of Colic

It's the saddest mystery of all.

Originally Published: 
Guide To Colic
Flickr / cheriejoyful

Some mysteries will forever remain unsolved. For instance, it’s highly unlikely anybody will ever find out who D.B. Cooper was, or if bigfoots (bigfeet?) roam the deepest darkest forests. Another hairy mystery? You infant’s colic, which makes you wish you were hiding in the woods with Cooper and Bigfoot. Because kicking it with a 7-foot ape thing and a bank robber would probably be way more chill than listening to the blood curdling cries of your kid.

This Is Colic

Okay. If your kid is crying now, read to the end of this sentence and then come back in three hours. Go ahead, the internet will wait. Welcome back, bro! Is your kid still crying? Does this happen a lot? And predictably? Yeah, that’s probably colic.

flickr / rabble

Colic is defined as any prolonged unexplained crying (over 3 hours) that occurs more than 3 times a week for more than 3 weeks. Which really takes the wind out of the sail of the whole “three is the magic number” thing.

Colic crying is generally super intense, distressed and high pitched. Your kid might be all curled up with a tensed abdomen, unlikely to respond to comfort, just like you after a couple weeks of this shit.

What Causes Colic

Here’s the super bad news: nobody knows. True story. Researchers know colic shows up around 2 weeks. And that it really sucks. But you don’t need the National Institute of Health to figure that out.

flickr / jon collier

There have been several studies trying to track down the cause of colic, but research hasn’t solved the mystery. Some suggest a link to gut pain from a digestive system not yet developed. Others say it could be a nervous system thing, linked to over-sensitivity to light and sound or simply a still-developing nervous system.

Colic has no distinct medical pathology, which makes it an infant behavior thing rather than a medical thing. Which is to say, your family will be flying solo on this one. It’s time to dig deep, get resourceful, and hang onto your sanity for dear life.

What You Can Do

This is where things get a tad tricky. Because there is no specific medical reason for colic, there is no medical cure, per se. However, that doesn’t mean you should not take your kid to the doctor. On the contrary, it’s possible that your doctor may find a fixable reason for all the tears, which would mean you baby isn’t suffering from colic after all. Lucky you!

flickr / Morgan

If your doc hits the colic-y dead end it’s time to explore your options. While there isn’t a reason for colic, most researchers put the probable cause somewhere between the gut and the brain. Here are some things to consider:

Hail Mary Gut Interventions

No conclusive studies have concluded that medications and treatments related to the gut will help. But they likely won’t hurt either. Talk to your doc prior to any interventions.

Probiotics: Some say that colic is linked to underdeveloped gut bacteria. Wildly inconclusive infant probiotics studies show possible evidence that giving “good” gut bugs could help relieve colic.

Infant Gas Relief: Over the counter gas relief medication may make you feel like you’re actually accomplishing something, but are unlikely to help. That said, they are safe, and if it gives you peace of mind, then that ain’t nothin’.

flickr / David Veksler

Feeding Time

The way your kid eat could be linked with their epic fussiness. Making some changes could help.

Boob-juice Or Formula: There is a possibility that the kid just isn’t down with what they’re getting from your partner or the formula canister. Breastfeeding moms can try to fool with their diet to see if there are any improvements. Or you can change up the brand and type of formula, because you kid might just have super classy tastes and will only accept Trump-branded formula.

Feeding Method: Too much air in your kids system could exacerbate colic. So feeding your kid in a more upright position could help. So could bag-lined bottles or rubber nipples that decrease the amount of air ingested during feeding. Don’t worry. You can always teach them to swallow air and burp their ABCs later on.


When nothing seems to be working, it’s time to look to soothing methods in hope of finding peace and quiet.

Pacifiers: They’re a-okay. Just use them judiciously.

Motion: Keep the kid bouncing and moving in your arms. Hold ‘em close and keep them warm. It’s just like rolling around in the womb again. Who wouldn’t like that? That’s why adults invented hot tubs.

White Noise: A low, humming, fuzzy sound, like a radio between stations might help. Avoid “7 Nation Army” by White Stripes.

Swaddling: A nice snug swaddle can work wonders for calming. Try it out, burrito king.

flickr / Sharon Mollerus

Heal Thyself

Yeah, you’re concerned about your kid. But you should also be concerned about yourself too. There’s nothing more stressful than feeling helpless while your kid cries in distress. So you need to make sure you engage in some self care: good food, exercise, laying off the sweet sweet booze that helps you forget. Or laying on it — whatever works, really.

Also, teamwork has never been as important as it is in the case of colic. Make sure that you both take on the crying times. And if someone needs to get out and find someplace for an adult cry, well just make sure you let her know before you head off to the bar, friend. If you can, bring someone else in to take over for a bit.

Finally know a couple of things: colic is not a parental failing. It is nobody’s fault. And the best news? It’s usually gone by 4 months. Hang in there, and make sure you talk it out with someone your trust if it gets too rough. D.B. Cooper and Bigfoot are fine listeners. And they’re just waiting around in the woods for you to show up.

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