Differences Between Gas and Colic in Babies & Why Their Symptoms Are Easily Confused


Mother trying to comfort her baby crying non-stop

There are few things more concerning or frustrating to new parents than a baby who won’t stop crying. Babies have not yet developed communication skills to tell parents what’s wrong, so it’s up to the parents to determine the most effective ways to soothe their children.

Two common reasons for baby non-stop crying are colic and gas, and these conditions are often mistaken for one another. However, the symptoms of colic and gas are significantly different, as well as the length of time the crying lasts and the recommended treatment options. This article describes the differences between colic and gas in babies to help parents identify the cause of their baby’s non-stop crying.

Colic Symptoms

The colic definition is described as frequent crying in babies that don’t exhibit symptoms of another condition that is causing the crying. Colic often begins when babies are just a few weeks old and ends when the baby is four to six months old. Colic symptoms include crying for over three consecutive hours or inconsolable crying for at least three days per week for several weeks.

This excessive crying often happens at the same time of day, such as the late afternoon. Cries at this time of day are often higher pitched, louder, and start and end very suddenly. Colic symptoms may also include developing a red and flushed face while crying, clenching the fists, arching the back, and drawing the knees up to the abdomen.

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Signs of Gas in Babies

There are many things that cause babies to cry, such as when they are wet, hungry, or gassy. Gas is very common among babies who are both breastfed and bottle-fed.

One of the signs of gas in babies is crying, but that crying often subsides once a bowel movement is passed or when the baby is burped. However, colic can actually make gas worse in babies because it makes them swallow more air during each crying session.

Colic Relief Strategies

Since crying due to colic typically lasts longer than crying due to gas, it is important to find a way to cope with frequent crying spells. Parents should not blame themselves or neglect their own wellbeing while taking care of a colicky baby because it is a temporary condition that will improve with time.

Parents must simply try to make their babies as comfortable as possible and consider joining a support group to cope with the situation. Gently massaging the baby’s tummy, rocking baby to sleep, burping after feeding, and holding during crying episodes may provide colic relief for some babies.

Gas Relief Treatments

The exact causes of colic or why some babies become colicky instead of others are not known. However, strategies to relieve gas in babies may also help with colic relief.

This includes holding babies upright during feeding to prevent them from swallowing excess air. Also, PediaCare Gas Relief Drops are gentle enough to use at every feeding and recommended for children 0-36 months of age to help relieve tummy discomfort. Diet changes may also be recommended for babies experiencing both colic and gas to rule out the possibility of a food allergy or sensitivity.

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