Baby Care

How to Treat and Prevent Infant Gas and Colic

What causes colic in babies

If you spent the night trying to comfort and calm your crying infant for at least three hours, and no matter what you try, you can’t comfort your grizzling baby, it is time for you to get to know all about colic. 

What is Colic in babies?

Colic is frequent, prolonged, and intense crying or fussiness in a healthy infant. It’s when an infant who isn’t sick or hungry cries for more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week, for more than 3 weeks. Colic can be particularly frustrating for many parents because the baby’s distress occurs for no apparent reason and no amount of consoling seems to bring any relief.

When does colic start and end?

Most bouts start when a baby is 2 to 3 weeks old or later in premature infants, peak at 6 weeks, and usually begin to taper off by 10 to 12 weeks.  It affects approximately 10% to 40% of infants around the world. 

Babies with colic spend long periods unsettled or grizzling, but they might also cry very loudly, especially in the evening and during nights. They might draw their legs up, strain, squirm and turn red. It looks like they are in pain, and it’s very difficult or even impossible to settle or comfort babies when they are in this state. 

What is gas in babies?

Baby gas is when your baby’s stomach is inflated with air due to digestion that is still developing or when the baby has swallowed a lot of air while feeding. Gas can cause a baby to bloat, experience pain, and be irritant. 

It is important to note that gas is a natural product of the bacteria that line the digestive tract and babies swallow air when feeding. Since babies suck in air while feeding, it’s important to burp your baby during and after feeding to relieve some of the gas. 

Is my baby gassy or colic?

During the first 4 months of life, your baby might have colic. Gas doesn’t cause colic, but if your baby is colicky, they may swallow more air, which gives them more gas.

Now let’s go through the causes, symptoms, and treatments of baby gas and colic, to understand better the differences and find the best way to help your baby.

Baby gas

What causes gas in babies?

The causes of gas include:

  • Drinking too fast from the nipple or bottle
  • Drinking too slowly may cause the baby to suck in extra air
  • Drinking formula with air bubbles
  • Crying for extended periods since the baby can easily swallow air while crying
  • Ingesting gas-inducing foods

Common signs of a gassy baby

A few common signs of a gassy baby include:

  • Red face
  • Crying
  • Squirming after feeding
  • Clenched fists
  • Pulling the legs up toward the tummy

How to Relieve Baby Gas?

The sure way to know if your baby has gas is when he or she burps or passes gas. You can relieve gas in your baby by:

  • Swaddling: you can wrap your baby up tight to soothe them. Read more information about how to swaddle a baby
  • Rocking or bouncing: helps to relax the baby. Try the “Tiger on the tree” position which involves laying your baby along one of your arms facing downwards with their head by your elbow.
  • Using a pacifier: sucking a pacifier brings relief since the sucking action releases signals in baby’s immature intestines
  • Infant massage: Rubbing the baby’s belly can help calm the nerve signals in the baby’s immature intestines
  • Lay your baby on his or her upper back and move the legs in an up-down pedaling motion. The movement helps to move gas along physically while soothing and calming nerves in the intestines.

How to prevent gas in babies?

  • Properly position your baby during feeding to minimize the amount of air being swallowed
  • While bottle-feeding, tilt the bottle to let as little air into the nipple as possible
  • Use nipples with smaller holes
  • Burp your baby immediately after feeding them
  • As a mom, you might have to change your diet since babies are intolerant to some foods. Learn more about foods you should eat while breastfeeding.



Baby Colic

As mentioned above, colic is a condition where your baby cries for at least three hours at a stretch for at least three days a week and persists for three weeks in a row. Fortunately, colic fades away with time, usually peaking at 6 weeks and tapering off by 10 to 12 weeks.

Symptoms of colic

  • Crying occurs at the same time every day
  • Crying for no reason
  • Baby moves his arms and legs more often
  • Increase in bowel activity

Colic makes babies cry inconsolably and the crying can turn into screaming.

Although there is no known cause for colic, some theories on it include:

  • Overstimulated senses
  • An immature digestive system
  • Infant acid reflux
  • Food allergies

The remedies for colic include:

Dealing with infant colic and gas is one of the hardest times of parenthood. If you’re not careful, it can take a toll on your emotions. So ask for help when you feel it’s too much. There is no shame in that.