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Is My Baby Colicky Or Just High Maintenance?

Are you sure your baby has colic? I ask because, if not, you could be doing a bunch of things to figure out how to get rid of colic, when there is something else wrong entirely, that you are missing. First, figure out how to tell if your baby has colic, then consider what to do next. Colic can be all-consuming. It seems like all you do is try to calm a fussy baby. So before you put any more time and energy into dealing with colic, let’s be sure that’s what is really going on.

A Checklist for How to Tell If Your Baby Has Colic

Of my 4 kids, the first born was pretty high maintenance. Hold me. Rock me. Bounce me. Nurse me. Hold me up high so I can see what’s going on. Do this. Do that. He was a demanding little fella.

I remember at one point with him wondering if he had colic. He would not sleep and was only quiet for a few minutes when I laid him down. Then it was right back to the holding and the rocking and the bouncing…

Like every new mom, I was worried about my baby. Fortunately, I am a checklist kinda-girl. So I got out a pencil and paper, wrote down the definition of colic, and separated the qualifications into a list.

If I could not check off all the qualifications, I moved on as though he didn’t have colic… because he didn’t.

Demanding Baby or Rookie Mommy?

The funny thing now, looking back objectively on my high maintenance first born baby, is that he was either the only baby I had like that, out of 4… OR, I just needed to get my new mommy act together a bit? Yeah, definitely the second option.

The truth is that my first was born was a bit more demanding. His love language to this day is quality time. He just wants to be WITH me. But he never had colic.

He needed to be trained and cared for in a certain way and if I would have let colic be my excuse for his every demanding cry, I would have really missed the mark with him.

The problems with calling every discomfort colic:

The truth about colic.

There are so many things you should be taking care of with your baby. If he doesn’t have actual colic, you’ve gotta move on.

If your baby does not have colic but is very irritable, he needs sleep. Sleep. Sleep. And more Sleep. You won’t be comfortable sleep training your baby as long as you are worried about him having colic. I can not stress enough the importance of sleep! Read here to fully understand why there isn’t much else as important for your baby as sleep.

There is no witching hour. Only a tired baby. Tired babies get fussy. Tiredness happens at the end of the day. In the evening. End of story.

Read the truth about witching hour here.

Even your pediatrician will tell you that your baby is “colicky” when that’s not necessarily the case. Why? Because there’s not much to do about it. Telling you that your baby is colicky provides a way for your pediatrician to give you an answer (which you are looking for) without there being a big medical concern (which there isn’t.)

What Actual Colic Looks and Sounds Like

Of all the baby’s I’ve cared for, all the moms I’ve coached, I have only ever seen one actual case of colic. And it was nuts!

I was babysitting a friend’s 3-month-old daughter when I was in my early 20’s. It was midday and kind of breezy. I had taken her outside for some fresh air. When we came back in, she began to get squirmy. Then irritable. Then all heck broke loose.

Over the course of about 3 hours, she began to cry uncontrollably and jerk her legs in a way I had never seen her do before. There was NO comforting her. Nothing worked. For hours, no rocking, no bouncing, no feeding… nothing.

Her mom was in a very important meeting, so I waited to call her and called my own mom instead. (no one had cared for more babies than my mom had)

As soon as my mom saw her, she knew just what to do. She went through a course of steps and the baby finally calmed down and was fine! Turns out taking her out in the breeze was a bad idea. The air trapped in her belly had caused colic.

Once you’ve seen a baby with TRUE colic, you never think of it the same again.

What should you do?

Final thoughts.

True colic is scary. That much crying, for that much time, is intense! However, once you understand what is and is not going on with your baby, you can be ready to get back to caring for him appropriately.

Doing all the things he needs you to be doing instead of focusing only on trying to stop the crying.


Hi there! I'm Mama Duck,

I'm a stay-at-home/work-at-home, homeschooling Mama of 4 beautiful kiddos, wife to my loving husband, Parenting Coach, Speaker, and Writer. I adore the sound of my children's giggles, that first sip of hot coffee, and a snuggly blanket fresh out of the dryer. Here on Faithful Parenting, my heart is to equip mamas with the skills, knowledge, and biblical wisdom to raise fantastic kids and build a tethered family!