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Colic vs. Gas in Babies: How to Tell the Difference

Colic vs. Gas in Babies: How to Tell the Difference

Is it colic or just a bit of gas? Let’s explore the differences.

Colic and gas are both common challenges that parents face, and there’s many ways to address them both at home. In this guide, we'll break down the distinct indicators of colic and gas, to help you breeze through those challenging moments and help your baby feel better!

How to tell if your baby has gas or colic

Spotting the difference between colic and gas involves paying attention to patterns. Colic tends to show up as intense crying around the same time each day, happening at least three times a week for a minimum of three weeks. Gas, though it may cause fussiness, lacks the predictable rhythm of colic cries. However, paying attention to what, when, and how your baby is eating could provide clues as to why they might be gassy.

What is colic in babies?

Colic isn't just your run-of-the-mill crying; it's excessive, inconsolable wailing in an otherwise healthy baby that happens in patterns. If this sounds familiar, you might be in colic territory. Our advice? Try out some gentle rocking, soothing sounds, and create a cozy haven for your little one. It’s also worth asking your pediatrician about formulas you could try, like Nutramigen®, which is made for babies with colic.

What to look for with a colicky baby

  • Consistent timing: Colic tends to follow a pattern, with crying episodes occurring around the same time each day. This may happen at least three times a week for a minimum of three weeks.
  • Physical discomfort: Look for signs such as clenched fists, arching of the back, and difficulty in settling down. These physical cues accompany the cries of a colicky baby.
  • Sleep disturbances: Colicky babies may struggle with sleep, finding it challenging to settle into a restful state.
  • Difficulty soothing: Traditional soothing methods, like rocking or singing, may provide temporary comfort, but colicky babies might still resist being comforted.
  • Duration of indicators: Colic typically lasts for a minimum of three weeks, with episodes occurring regularly during this period.
  • Consistency in indicators: The indications of colic, both in terms of crying and associated behaviors, remain consistent over the defined duration.

What is gas in babies?

Gas in babies is air that gets trapped and builds up in the digestive tract; either in the stomach or intestines. Gas can come from swallowing air or from food particles that are digested in the gut by the bacteria in the microbiome. While gas is usually harmless, it can be irritating, painful, and of course, smelly, so it’s generally good to do what you can to minimize gas for your baby.

What to look for with a gassy baby

Babies lack the words to tell you if they’re passing gas, but if you’re not sure where that smell or noise is coming from, look out for:

  • Tummy bloating
  • Squirming
  • Frequently passing gas

If your little one seems to be more comfortable after a burp or a toot, chances are gas is the troublemaker. While burping and passing gas might be considered rude for children and adults, it’s good to encourage your baby to get that gas out.

When to call the pediatrician for baby’s gas

While most gas issues can be handled at home, there are times when a pediatrician's expertise is the game-changer. If your baby shows signs of severe discomfort, persistent crying, or if you're simply unsure, don't hesitate to reach out to your pediatrician. It never hurts to get to the bottom of things with expert medical advice, and they’re always the right person to ask about trying a different formula that could help with your baby’s gas. Check out our family of formulas to compare options with your pediatrician!

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All information on Enfamil, including but not limited to information about health, medical conditions, and nutrition, is intended for your general knowledge and is not a substitute for a healthcare professional's medical identification, advice, or management for specific medical conditions. You should seek medical care and consult your doctor or pediatrician for any specific health or nutrition issues. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment, care, or help because of information you have read on Enfamil.