Colic or Reflux?

By Colleen Brown (Retired Plunket Nurse)


• She cannot settle after her late afternoon or early evening feed and starts screaming as soon as the feed is over, or she falls asleep but wakes crying within half an hour.

• She does not just cry – she screams, drawing her legs up to her tummy, and appears distressed.

• Everything you do seems to help for a minute. She will suck, but then the screaming starts again. Often, wind will stop the screaming momentarily – but it starts again. Being rocked interrupts the screaming for a few seconds. Having her tummy rubbed produces miraculous silence – but it does not last.

• When you interrupt the screaming, the baby remains shaky and sobbing until it starts again.

• The whole episode lasts one to four hours, then it is over for the day.

• A similar pattern repeats itself every day at about the same time, but not at any other time in the 24-hour period.


• He cannot settle after his late or early evening feed, but cries and grumbles on and off for quite a long time before finally going to sleep. Grumbling never means colic.

• His crying is ordinary crying, even if it is hard crying. Drawing his legs up to his tummy is not necessarily a sign of colic – young babies always do that when crying hard

• Something you do brings the crying spell to an end within half an hour. If a feed or a dummy does the trick, the baby was obviously hungry or needed to suck – either way it is not colic. If bringing up wind enables him to sleep, then he had a windy attack, not colic. If rocking and rubbing soothes him, he may have been lonely or tense.

• The baby is calm while you are comforting him. He may cry when you put him to bed, but he is not distressed.

• The episode ends within half an hour and baby sleeps or stays happy for at least 15 minutes before he cries again.

• Occasional screaming spells at any time of the day or night. They may be hard to bear but they are not colic.


• He has continual spilling after feeds, with or without distressed crying.

• There are signs of spilling on his pillowslip or sheet.

• When you pick your baby up from the prone position, he spills a mouthful of milk over you.

• Your baby may grizzle a lot and arch his back in discomfort.

Excerpt from the © TREASURES® BABY BOOK. Used with permission.



    The Journal of Pediatrics, Volume 164, Issue 5, Pages 959-960, May 2014, Authors:William Tarnow-Mordi, BA, MBChB, DCH, FRCPCH; Roger F. Soll, MD

  • Hello - wondering if you can help, my now 5 year old had silent reflux, my 5 month old also has reflux, I saw a specialist in Auckland for my first child but cannot for the life of my remember his name - do you have a list of specialists in Auckland? Many thanks Misty

  • Hi :) just starting my five month old on solids , any foods worse or better for reflux sufferers ? She is quite constipated from losec and gaviscon so also foods that aren't constipating

  • We only have six members in our Hawkes Bay GRSNNZ Local Support Network on Facebook. If you are coping with reflux and living in this area, we would love you to join us.

    Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ for Parents of Infants & Children Charitable Trust Membership & Confidentiality Agreement Form / Newsletter Admin PageFirst NameLast nameEmailStreet AddressCity/TownAreaPostcodeDo you live in NZ?Country and Area if not NZHome Phone (include area code)Partner's NameE...

  • A large randomized controlled trial has shown benefits of probiotic treatment in an unselected general population of neonates.

  • hi there, im desperate for help. my wee girl is 5 weeks old and has always been unsettled from birth. At first she was constipated and in pain so paed put her on pepti junior and after no improvement added lactulose syrup for bowels. She has a bowel motion now only every 5-6 days so not ideal. over the passed few days she has got alot worse, fussing at feeds, acidy smelling breath, after finishing bottles she squirms in pain, cramps up like a banana, screams/cries etc. she doesnt spill ever and winds pretty well. Clearly something is still not right but have seen 3 paeds and all havent considered silent reflux?? i feel silly going back again but i know they are missing something, could it be reflux?? thanks Nicole

  • I have been reading your website, thank you, it's helped me a lot. 5 weeks with a very unhappy baby is extremely difficult.

  • Do you live in Northland, New Zealand and have a child with gastric reflux? We would love you to become a member of the Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ and join our latest Private Facebook Group - for the Northland GRSNNZ Local Support Network. We currently have five families who would be grateful to have contact with others in the Northland area and share their experiences. We have Local Support Networks throughout NZ and set up Private Facebook Groups as requested. We already have Yahoo Mailing Lists for each region, but many prefer Facebook. To join complete a membership and confidentiality form: Membership is free, and this gives you opportunities to discuss gastric reflux related issues with others in a safe, private and confidential setting. You will also get access to our newsletters.

    Gastric Reflux Support Network NZ for Parents of Infants & Children Charitable Trust Membership & Confidentiality Agreement Form / Newsletter Admin PageFirst NameLast nameEmailStreet AddressCity/TownAreaPostcodeDo you live in NZ?Country and Area if not NZHome Phone (include area code)Partner's NameE...

  • Hi there, I was on your website reading that doctors should prescribe the Losec granules instead of the suspension. Does this apply for 2 month old babies as well?

  • I am hijacking this photo. #gastricreflux

  • Hi, I am interested in people's opinion on advice from a dietician re my 13 month son who has reflux and lower GI issues, both currently well managed. I have posted before: he's on a restricted diet - no dairy, soy, gluten as well as a random no tomato/potato (latter done by me without paed knowledge following nasty flare up). He is still bf and not a great solids eater - picky, limited finger foods only, no mush. He is small (prem, lbw) but not at all underweight for size. He is on iron supplement (formerly anaemic) and trying to wean off losec. Dietician wants us a) to go on to neocate advanced and b) to reintroduce gluten. Neither of these sit well with me. I ate non-GF oats and small amount non-GF pasta yesterday - now I have an unsettled boy stretching and groaning after a month of calm. Coincidence?? Re neocate - is it really necessary to give him this or can I find the iron and vitamin boost elsewhere? He hates the taste and doesn't eat porridge/mash/stewed fruit to mix it into. The dietician really p***ed me off for her manner and lack of knowledge of son's history (in spite of having met before) and I don't trust her judgment. Thoughts? Sorry long post. Thank you for reading.


    Pyrosis RGO mécanisme