A baby with colic

5 Myths About Colic

With a quarter to a third of babies diagnosed with colic and a cause yet to be discovered, myths about colic abound. But when it comes to your child, you want to know what the truth is. Here is a look at five things regarding colic that just aren’t true. 

Your baby is crying because they are in pain.

There isn’t really any research to support this. Doctors diagnose colic by ruling out health conditions that could be causing distress. And new research shows that cortisol, the stress hormone, does not rise to indicate pain when colicky babies are crying. Your baby may be upset, but as long as they have been examined by a doctor, chances are good physical pain isn't causing the crying. 

Collicky babies are overstimulated.

While some experts report that these babies are simply overreacting to normal stimuli, other research suggests babies with colic may actually be understimulated. Largely, the switch from being constantly “held” in the womb to living in the world and only being held when a parent picks them up is just too much. Mimicking the way infants are “swaddled” and “held” in the womb may help relieve colic symptoms. 

Diet doesn’t matter.

Some research suggests that babies with colic may have some gastrointestinal discomfort caused by mild allergies to cow milk. Formula babies with colic may do better on a hypoallergenic formula. Additionally, it’s possible what a mother eats is being passed on to breastfed babies, also causing a mild allergic reaction. 

Collicky babies need to be burped.

That may be true, but it's not why they’re collicky. Mid-cry, a baby might let out a really good belch. However, the act of crying itself it what leads to excess air becoming trapped and released. While this can be painful and a cause for crying, it does not explain why your child initially began crying. 

Colic is a sign of abnormality.

Babies cry—it's their thing. And in the end, it's a normal behavior. Colic occurs in at least a quarter to a third of all babies, which means you’re not alone! This condition isn't a sign that your child will suffer from health problems in the future, and it definitely doesn't mean you're doing something wrong as a parent. It's just one of those things that you've got to learn to deal with. 

Last Updated: March 28, 2016