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Colic or Reflux?

It’s not easy this parenting malarky – and it’s certainly more difficult when your little one is crying and in discomfort.


Many parents come to me with babies that won’t settle after feeds, and this is often caused by Colic. It’s also caused by Reflux – so how can you tell the two apart?


What is Colic?


Colic is trapped wind – it’s the air that your baby swallows during feeding. Some babies Wind can be incredibly painful and upsetting for a baby, just as it is to an adult. The air gets air trapped in the intestine and it cause pain. you know yourself if you’ve ever had wind! It’s really not nice. The only way to get rid of that trapped wind is for your baby to pass wind.


Signs of trapped wind/colic

Your baby will probably bring his legs up to his chest and cry. Their little body will likely be rigid and they’ll not want to be put down into their cot to settle. The pitch of the cry will be quite high and often loud. It really is very upsetting.


How can I help my colicky baby?

The best way is to wind your baby really well after a feed. ensure you get 3-4 big burps.you can either gently pat the back up and down, or rub it.


If that doesn’t work, pick your baby up and pop the upright over your shoulder. Rub their back while walking around – this often dislodges wind!


Our best way of helping Boo and Oz was to lift them under their arms, and gently rock them. You have to be very careful to support the head still though – but this positiion really helped our two dislodge wind.


Elevating the head end of the cot can help very windy babies, and winding during a feed (especially bottle fed babies) can help.


If you are bottle feeding there are lots of anti-colic bottles available.


Finally, there are over the counter products you can buy to help your baby. Always talk to your pharmacist for a recommendation, and if symptoms persist consult your doctor.


What is reflux?


Basically reflux is baby heartburn. It comes in two forms:

Active: When baby is sick (often looks like cottage cheese and lots of it) after feeds

Silent: Like heartburn in adults – the pain will be down the oesophagus.

The comforting is exactly the same as above – but reflux often needs a little more help.

You can read about reflux in more detail together with tips and treatment here.


Try not to worry, you are not alone in your wide-awake nights with your colicky baby, and things do get easier the older your baby gets.


Colic and reflux often cause a sleepless night. My Baby Bedtime book is full of tips on getting through the sleepless nights, surviving the zombie days after,  and tips on helping your little one have a happy night’s sleep.