9 Top Theories About What Causes Colic

It's no secret that crying is a huge part of a newborn baby's routine. Most new parents go into the job expecting baby to cry when they're hungry, tired, or in need of a fresh diaper. But some newborns can erupt into crying fits that last for what can seem like forever for absolutely no reason at all, leaving parents frustrated and confused. In those cases, your adorable little bundle of joy gets labeled as colicky. No one really knows exactly what causes these seemingly inconsolable outbursts in babies, but there are some top theories about what causes colic.

According to WebMD, colic is crying in otherwise healthy babies which lasts for more than three hours, three times per week, for three or more weeks. Additionally WebMD noted that colic often appears in babies when they are around two weeks old, and can last until they are three or four months old. Although there isn't one definitive cause of colic, gas, overeating, and exposure to secondhand smoke can all contribute to the condition in new babies.

If your baby is experiencing colic, use trial and error to determine if one of these factors could be the cause. As always, work closely with your doctor to find the healthiest way to relieve your baby's discomfort. And don't be afraid to call on your village for relief if the crying gets to be too much to handle. Sometimes a walk around the block or a good laugh is all you need to put things in perspective.


Too Much Stimulation

Babies lose the ability to tune out the noise and other distractions of their environment in the first month of life. As a result, they may get stressed out by all the sights and sounds around them, and be unable to sleep and eat, according to What to Expect.



If your colicky baby is red-faced and clenching his fists as he cries, Baby Centered noted that gas could be the cause. The discomfort can be resolved once he passes gas or a bowel movement.


Your Diet

According to Kid's Health, elements of your diet could be causing your baby's colic if you're breastfeeding. Experiment with eliminating dairy, soy, and wheat from your diet to see if you notice an improvement. And if none of those things work, unfortunately, caffeine may be the culprit.


Living With A Smoker

In case you needed another reason not to smoke, it could be the cause of your baby's colic. According to What to Expect, studies have shown a link between mothers who smoke during their pregnancy and colicky babies. Additionally, exposure to secondhand smoke can result in colic once the baby is born.



Your baby may be eating like there's no tomorrow, but she may need your help slowing down and enjoying her meal. If not, she may experience a lot of discomfort later. According to the American Pregnancy Association, eating too much or too fast can result in colic in some babies.


Gastro-Esophageal Reflux

Gastro-esophageal reflux is a common cause of colic, according to Parenting. Your baby's food may be returning to the esophagus after digestion, causing them frequent and recurring vomit, as well as discomfort. If this is the case, try giving them less food, which will give them less to spit up.


Bacterial Imbalance

Believe it or not, there is good bacteria out there, which helps digestion run smoothly. According to Colic Calm's blog, a bacterial imbalance can be the cause of digestive discomfort and result in colic in some babies. Supplementing your baby's diet with probiotics can help relieve their discomfort.


Protein Sensitivity

In some cases, your baby's colic may be the result of a sensitivity to the protein contained in her formula, as mentioned on Similac's blog. If you suspect this is the case, speak with your pediatrician about switching formula, which should provide immediate relief.


Mixing Up Day And Night

In the womb, your baby was probably sleeping as you moved through your day, and literally kicking it as you tried to sleep at night. According to Parenting, colicky newborn babies may need your help understanding the difference between day and night.