Colic: cause, symptoms, and treatment

Colic is stressful for both parents and child. Here we clarify which symptoms occur, when it makes sense to visit the doctor and what a scream clinic is. The most important questions and answers.

The baby screams and screams, apparently writhing with stomach ache and can hardly calm down – this could be colic that can occur in the baby's first months of life. What is behind it and what parents can do, you can find out here: With the midwife Manuela Rauer-Sell from the "Deutscher Hebammenverband e.V." spoken and the most important questions clarified.

The main answers to colic What are the symptoms of colic?

Manuela Rauer-Sell: Symptoms such as persistent crying / screaming, bloated stomach, restlessness, stool retention or frequent bowel movements (with a lot of pressure), convulsive posture (legs drawn up, back rounded) alternating with convulsive (over) stretching are often referred to as three-month colic thus traced back abdominal pain in the infant.

And where does colic come from?

The diagnosis of three-month colic has not yet been clinically proven. There are probably (few) babies who feel more disturbed by their digestive processes than others. Colic is neither a digestive system disease nor a nutritional disorder. A lot of air in the intestines can cause gas. This means that it can affect children who swallow a lot of air while drinking from their breasts or bottles and / or who do not belch well after drinking, i.e. cannot get the air out.

After the birth, the digestive tract actually has to be "put into operation" first. Up to this day, the unborn child is cared for via the umbilical cord. After the birth, the amount of milk a baby drinks increases day by day, and the work of digestion increases accordingly. Like almost everything, digestion is something that a newborn person has to get used to.

What can parents do if the child suffers? Can you prevent colic?

Keep calm and radiate, make sure that the child swallows little air while drinking and that it burps well after drinking, warm and / or massage the little belly, let the baby kick extensively without a diaper when changing diapers.

Does it really help to change your diet or to breastfeed differently?

If the child or the parents are under high stress, this can be tried out. We recommend that you get professional advice beforehand (midwife, pediatrician, lactation consultant).

When should you go to a doctor or seek help in a crying clinic?

When the discomfort affects drinking in such a way that the child is not gaining weight well or when crying / screaming becomes a problem itself. For the latter, the rule of thumb applies: 'If the child cries in a seizure and irritated manner for more than three hours a day, occurs more than three times a week and continues for more than three weeks' (from: Harder, U .: Postpartum care in the clinic and at home, Hippokrates 4th edition, 2015).

The most important colic facts at a glance


The cause of colic in infants is not clearly understood. There are various explanations for this, such as:

  • The baby swallows too much air while drinking
  • The child's digestion has yet to develop and can therefore lead to pain
  • Lack of sleep, which is generated by problems falling asleep and leads to overstimulation


  • persistent crying / screaming
  • Flat stomach / flatulence
  • Restlessness
  • Chair is not as usual / expected
  • frequent bowel movements (with a lot of pressure)
  • Cramp-like posture (legs drawn up, back rounded) alternating with cramp-like (over) stretching

What to do with colic 6 tips

  1. Gentle abdominal massage
  2. Let baby kick in comfortable warmth without diapers
  3. try another breastfeeding position
  4. Carry your baby around with your stomach on your forearm
  5. Rock the baby gently back and forth
  6. Ask for help in good time from family or friends or seek professional advice if you as a parent notices that your strength is dwindling.

Advice in the scream clinic

When a baby cries all the time, it is stressful for both parents and child – and it is only normal when parents want support. For such circumstances there are so-called crying clinics and early help, which can support families with cot babies with advice, accompaniment and practical help.

A nationwide search for your area is possible on the page

Reading tip: Here you will find the best sleep aids for babies as well as nice ideas for sleep rituals. Do you already know the bad luck? Find out what's behind it here.

Other sources Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA)