What are the causes of colic?

In the early weeks, colic symptoms are often mild and may not appear serious. General restlessness, moaning and groaning, some cramps and short bouts of crying are the norm. But as time progresses, baby will show more pronounced signs of distress. Although discomfort is most commonly from the digestive system, there are other issues to consider.

Gas pockets.PNG
gas and wind related colic
upper digestive tract - stomach

babies swallow gas when they feed. if this gas does not get released (burped up), discomfort and indigestion can follow. at first, this occurs soon after feeds. but if it continues, winds pass through the intestines leading to further bloating, cramps and reflux.


on our learning center, I teach a kick-start routine of six 'active' burping techniques that get the deeper burps to release. the routine takes 6-7 minutes and should be done after and before feeding for a week. almost all babies will start to burp well if you do this.

lower digestive tract - intestinal

the most common cause of colic symptoms is an excessive amount of gas in the baby’s colon and intestinal tract. the classic colic symptoms are bloating, cramping, moaning and groaning, pushing and straining. reflux often starts because the milk is not flowing through the digestive tract as fast as it should. 


on our learning center, I show you some very specific points to mobilise the most common sites of trapped gas.

baby drinking.PNG
food related colic
moms diet can upset baby

although this is relatively uncommon, there are instances when something in mom's diet may not be well tolerated by baby's immature digestive tract. most times this is imagined by mom but if you suspect there is a link, an exclusion diet should be tried by mom. most likely to have an effect would be dairy foods, alcohol, spicy foods and cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, etc).

enzyme related colic
baby can't digest properly
some babies may not tolerate and digest certain types of formula. there are certain clues to look for and you may need to switch to a different type. 

In some cases, baby does not have the correct balance of good and bad bacteria in their gut (anti-biotic induced?). In these cases, probiotic supplements may help. This is unlikely in breastfed babies.

Breastmilk contains both foremilk and hindmilk. The foremilk, which comes first, contains more sugars like lactose, while the hindmilk is richer in fat. Some experts believe that too much foremilk may result in a relative lactose overload. This may contribute to gas or fussiness in babies. Try empty each breast before moving on to the next.

muscular colic
muscle and skeletal faults

we believe that around 15% of colicky babies fall into this category which is not related to trapped gas or winds, but rather to muscular or skeletal tension and imbalance.


symptoms are often present from birth and there is a higher incidence in caesarean deliveries or traumatic births. they don't moan and groan, or push and strain like in 'gassy' types of colic, but nevertheless, are uncomfortable, cramp and arch, are stiff and can have crying spells.


on our training page, you'll find stretch exercises and techniques that are often effective for muscular colic. chiropractors are often consulted for this type of colic.

neurological colic
developmental or overstimulation

it is often unclear as to the cause of this type of colic. we call it neurological colic because its key symptom is inconsolable crying. the infant appears overloaded, overtired and in real pain, yet they feed and burp well and there are no real signs of gassy build-up or any other ailment.


they need lots of love and holding and respond well to sleeping on mom. when opportunity arises, try the massage routines on our learning center. they are brilliant for this type of colic.