We’re coming to the end of the second week of rediscovering our evenings. By which I mean we have finally, finally got Elfin to start going to bed at a reasonable hour and – crucially – not waking up again ten minutes later. I’ve not spoken about it here too much, perhaps once or twice when I’ve been discussing relevant products; but if you follow me on Facebook you’ll be very aware of how the moniker I gave our second-born (Elfin Angel, to complement our Devil Pixie) quickly became a cruel joke – I dropped ‘Angel’ early on. Elfin suffered with horrendous colic as a newborn, and it was one of the hardest times of my life; the stress, the worry, the guilt – the tiredness and fatigue I felt deep in my bones. But what causes colic in babies?

What causes colic and can it be treated effectively? Everything you need to know about the hell that is colic. #colic #newbaby #parenting

What Causes Colic?

The exact cause is unknown, but there are many theories.

When Elfin was born I was under the impression that it was simply what babies do. During a hellish few months at the start of her life, I educated myself on the matter and think quite differently now, but there are no definite answers.

What Exactly is Colic?

The NHS defines colic as frequent episodes of excessive and inconsolable crying, for at least three hours a day, at least three days per week, for at least three weeks in an otherwise healthy and well cared-for baby.

And let me tell you – it’s brutal.

Symptoms include bouts of intense screaming and crying late in the day, with knees drawn-up back and arched, suggesting digestive pain. After learning more about colic I feel sure that it’s not normal and does have an underlying cause which can be addressed.

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Our Experience 

During my naive stint as a first-time mum, I thought Pixie was a monster. I was wrong; very wrong. Had I known what lay in store with baby number two, I’m not certain I’d have ever found the courage to have a second child. In that respect I’m glad it was an unknown, because otherwise we wouldn’t have our beautiful Elfin.

Following a wonderful labour – which may sound like an oxymoron, but I couldn’t have wished for a better delivery! – at just two weeks old our poor baby developed ‘baby acne’. At least I assumed that’s what it was, until a consultant saw her about something else and immediately diagnosed CMPA.

What Causes Colic - CMPA Baby

It was a diagnosis which would enable me to begin helping her and thankfully, following a strict dairy and soya-free diet, her symptoms quickly improved. Nonetheless, she’s remained a very difficult baby and only now at nearly 16 months are things normalising. I hold my hands up to the fact we’ve allowed bad habits to form whist trying simply to survive during the past year, and we’re now attempting to fix those.

Support With Colic Awareness Week

September 26th marks the day of the year in the UK on which most babies are born (it was Pixie’s original due date!), when births rise from around 1800 to 2000* – that’s a lot of late Christmas gifts! But though there are many parents excitedly awaiting their bundles of joy, one third of British mums are oblivious to what may be about to befall them, should their newborn be on of the 20% affected by colic*.

  • Office for National Statistics <http://visual.ons.gov.uk/how-popular-is-your-birthday/>
  • All statistics (unless otherwise stated) are taken from the ‘Helping Baby to Sleep’ survey. The survey, carried out by ID Consulting on behalf of Infacol, analysed responses from 500 parents  in the UK with children under 2 years old.

Infacol and Cry-Sis have launched Colic Awareness Month in September to help educate and support parents through what can be a pretty desperate period. Our experience was screaming (pain-induced, we believe) from around 7pm to around 1am, until I eliminated dairy and soya from my diet, and thus from Elfin’s system. Her rash cleared up and her symptoms improved drastically. But it was a miserable time for us, where we were depleted of energy, yet dreaded each day as evening approached. And it’s so common!

Most parents – a whopping 95% – have attempted to soothe their distressed babies by singing to them or using white noise (I’ve tried both), 88% have taken their babies for a drive (hi!), and 67% have used the tv or radio. We’ve only used this last option since she’s been old enough to be distracted, because as a small baby she was just too poorly – I’m talking multiple nightly changes of bedding and clothing following a full feed being vomited back up. 

It was truly horrendous, and something I’m sure other allergy parents will be all too familiar with.

A new app, Chatterbaby, has been designed using acoustics of thousands of babies cries and claims to determine the cause of the distress, so parents can be guided in how to respond. In a survey of 500 mums and dads with children under two, Infacol discovered that one third of parents would be willing to give this a shot*, and who can blame them. Trust me, when you’re desperate you’ll try every possible solution – which is how I came to give up dairy.

* https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/chatterbaby-app-knows-why-your-baby-is-crying-qkt2w63zt

Overcoming Colic

In the end, all babies will get past colic eventually, but you may find that none of the remedies do very much to help. If you believe your baby is in pain, or if they have gastro issues (such as reflux), I recommend seeking advice from your GP as there may be an underlying cause for which help is available.

It’s no exaggeration to say that until very recently Elfin’s bedtime has been a battle. And so has the rest of the night. Current improvements come at the same time as half as many nightly wakings: they’ve reduced from about six to around three. This still seems a lot, but I can assure you it’s the difference between barely functioning and feeling semi-human. Reconnecting with my husband and having half an hour to just be before going to bed is also a massive bonus. Life feels good right now and I’m full of positivity, something I’ve struggled with for the past year.

Click here for more on the campaign, or visit here for further information. For advice over the phone, visit Cry-sis.


Health, Motherhood, Newborns and babies, Sleep-Deprivation

An award-nominated blogger and author, Kate is an experienced breastfeeding advocate, and expert baby sleep chaser. Her writing has appeared on Mothercare, Huff Post, and BritMums.


  1. Arthur had terrible, awful colic and reflux as a baby. I remember the screaming once starting at 4pm and by 3am I was still up, bouncing him and rocking him trying to stop the screams, (Inbetween feeding him and then cleaning up vomit) my husband was away that night and I’d had no dinner, no rest and I just cried and thought I was such a failure. Those first months were a blur and when Charlotte arrived 2.5 yrs later and the reflux kept us up all night in a similar fashion I tried cutting out dairy and soya (having since been educated about it!) to see if it helped (both mine had baby acne too). It DID help with the reflux but neither of my children sleep and Charlotte feeds pretty much every hour or two over night, it is relentless. Colic is horrendous I wouldn’t wish it on anyone

    • Sleep deprivation is so, so hard to live with. I truly sympathise. How old is Charlotte now? Elfin has been the same and through sheer exhaustion I started the difficult job of night weaning her. It was helping till I had to stop due to illness (my two are prone to croup and when she got a cough there was no way I was inviting that into our house). So we’ve gone backwards again, but I’ll definitely be working on it once she’s well because it definitely improved things. X

  2. Rachel Craig Reply

    Great prize. Please consider allowing competition entry via e-mail, blog comment, etc.

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