Why Do Babies Get Colic?

This is a very good question. Unfortunately, it’s one that no one really knows the answer to! Colic is one of parenting’s biggest mysteries. There are many theories around why babies get colic, but it really boils down to the fact that ‘they just do’.

It’s hard, frustrating, upsetting, stressful and a thousand other words you can think of to describe the feelings you will have as a parent to a baby with colic.

Of course, there are lots of possible reasons, none of which are proven or definitive. But we’ll explore a few of them, anyway.


Newborn babies have an in-built mechanism that allows them to ignore sights and sounds around them. This allows for sleeping and eating undisturbed by their environment. Towards the age of four weeks, babies become more sensitive to the stimuli in their surroundings – these new sensations can cause them to become overwhelmed, and they cry (and cry) to relieve that stress.

Digestive system

Digesting food is a huge task for a brand new baby. Sometimes this means food passes through too quickly and isn’t broken down fully, which can lead to pain from intestinal gas.

Acid reflux

Infant gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) could possibly be a colic trigger. Symptoms of GERD can include being frequently sick, poor eating and irritability during and after feeding. Like colic, this is something most babies will grow out of.

Food allergies

Some experts believe colic could be a result of lactose intolerance in babies that are formula-fed or a reaction to foods in a mum’s diet in breastfed babies. This sensitivity could cause tummy pain and colicky behaviour.

While these are reasons that have been explored, they aren’t supported by evidence so colic remains a mystery. But, the light at the end of the tunnel is colic in babies doesn’t last forever.