Healthcare providers are not certain what causes colic. There are several theories about why colic may or may not occur, including:
Adjusting to Each Other
One theory about colic relates to the adjustments that a new baby and his/her parents have to make to each other. Until babies learn to talk, one way they communicate with adults is by crying. Parents have to learn to interpret the reasons their baby is crying and then figure out what to do to make the baby happy. Is the baby hungry? Wet? Cold? Hot? Tired? Bored? A baby will cry for these reasons, as well as for other problems and parents must try to determine what is causing their baby's stress, often by trial and error. New parents, especially, may have trouble reading their baby's cues and responding appropriately.
Temperament and Adjusting to the World
Newborns must also make adjustments to the world they are living in. Not all babies have the same temperament. Some adjust to lights, loud noises and all the other stimulation around them with no trouble, while others are not able to adapt as easily. Just like adults, some babies are easy-going and some are impatient. Crying may be one way for a baby to vent feelings as he/she is getting adjusted to the world.
Oversensitivity to Gas
Another possible theory for excessive crying in babies might be due to an oversensitivity to gas in the intestine. Healthcare providers do not think that babies with colic produce more gas than others, but simply that the normal amount of gas that is produced as food is digested is uncomfortable for some babies. If a baby with colic seems to pass more gas than other babies do, it is probably due to swallowing more air while crying for prolonged periods of time.
Colic is not caused by an allergy or intolerance to milk protein. The signs of milk protein allergy are different from those seen with colic. If you think your child has a milk allergy, call your healthcare provider.