Why Does Colic Happen at Night

nighttime colic causes and solutions

Do you ever wonder why your baby's colic seems to worsen at night? Well, there are several reasons why this happens. It could be due to their circadian rhythm and the way their digestion works during the night. Your little one may also be more sensitive to stimulation during nighttime hours. Additionally, hormonal changes and increased cortisol levels can contribute to their discomfort. In this article, we'll explore the reasons behind nighttime colic and provide strategies to help soothe your baby's symptoms.

Circadian Rhythm and Infant Digestion

If your baby experiences colic at night, it may be due to the influence of their circadian rhythm on their digestion. Sleep patterns and colic are closely linked, as infants tend to have irregular sleep patterns during the first few months of life. This can disrupt their digestive system and contribute to colic symptoms. Additionally, the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles, also plays a role in infant digestion. Melatonin is produced in higher amounts at night, which can affect the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract. Research suggests that the circadian rhythm and melatonin production may influence the occurrence and severity of colic episodes during nighttime. Understanding these connections can help parents and healthcare professionals develop strategies to manage colic and improve infant sleep.

Increased Sensitivity to Stimulation

Babies with colic often have an increased sensitivity to stimulation, making it challenging for them to settle down at night. This heightened sensitivity can lead to sensory overload, causing infants to become easily overwhelmed by their environment. It is believed that babies with colic have immature nervous systems, which may contribute to their heightened sensitivity.

During the night, when the environment is quieter and there are fewer distractions, babies may become more aware of their discomfort and struggle to sleep. This can result in sleep disruptions for both the baby and the parents.

To better understand the impact of increased sensitivity to stimulation on babies with colic, let's take a look at the following table:

Sensory Overload TriggersSleep DisruptionsCoping Strategies
Loud noisesDifficulty falling asleepCreate a soothing bedtime routine
Bright lightsFrequent waking upProvide a calm and quiet sleep environment
Strong smellsRestless sleepSwaddle the baby for a sense of security
Rough texturesShort sleep durationUse white noise or gentle lullabies to promote relaxation
Excessive movementNighttime cryingOffer gentle touch and comfort to soothe the baby

Hormonal Changes and Cortisol Levels

During the night, your baby's hormonal changes and cortisol levels may play a role in the occurrence of colic. Hormones are chemical messengers in the body that regulate various processes, including digestion and sleep. A hormonal imbalance in babies can disrupt their normal bodily functions, leading to colic symptoms. Cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone, is also involved in the regulation of sleep-wake cycles. Research suggests that babies with colic may have higher levels of cortisol, which can contribute to sleep disturbances. These sleep disturbances can further exacerbate colic symptoms, creating a cycle of discomfort for both you and your baby. Understanding the connection between hormonal changes and cortisol levels can help in managing colic effectively and providing relief for your baby's discomfort.

Parental Stress and Baby's Reaction

When experiencing colic at night, your stress as a parent can contribute to your baby's reaction and discomfort. The exhaustion and sleep deprivation that come with parenting can amplify the challenges of dealing with a colicky baby. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Parental exhaustion: The constant crying and lack of sleep can leave parents feeling physically and emotionally drained. This exhaustion can make it harder for them to cope with their baby's colic and can increase their stress levels.
  • Sleep deprivation: When parents are deprived of sleep due to their baby's colic, it can affect their ability to function and handle the situation calmly. Sleep deprivation can exacerbate feelings of stress and frustration, making it more challenging to soothe their baby.
  • Emotional impact: The combination of parental exhaustion and sleep deprivation can lead to increased feelings of stress, anxiety, and helplessness. These emotions can inadvertently affect the baby's reaction, as they can sense their parent's tension and distress.

Understanding the link between parental stress, exhaustion, and a baby's reaction to colic can help parents find ways to cope and seek support during this challenging time.

Strategies to Soothe Nighttime Colic

To help ease nighttime colic, try implementing a few simple strategies. One effective technique is using white noise. White noise can help drown out other sounds and create a calming environment for your baby. You can try using a white noise machine or playing soft, repetitive sounds like rain or ocean waves. Swaddling is another technique that can provide comfort to a colicky baby. Wrapping your baby snugly in a blanket can help mimic the feeling of being in the womb and promote a sense of security. Make sure to swaddle your baby properly, ensuring their hips and legs have enough room to move. Remember, every baby is different, so it may take some trial and error to find the strategies that work best for your little one.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does Colic Typically Last During the Night?

Colic duration during the night can vary, but it typically lasts for several hours. Colic causes discomfort and crying in infants, often due to gas or digestive issues. It is important to consult a healthcare professional for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Are There Any Specific Foods or Drinks That Should Be Avoided to Help Reduce Nighttime Colic?

To reduce nighttime colic, avoid certain foods and drinks that can aggravate the condition. Some common triggers include caffeine, spicy foods, and gas-inducing foods like beans and cabbage. Consult a doctor for more personalized nighttime colic remedies.

Can Colic at Night Be a Sign of a More Serious Underlying Health Condition?

Colic at night can sometimes indicate a more serious health condition, but it's important not to jump to conclusions. Look out for symptoms like excessive crying and seek medical intervention for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Are There Any Home Remedies or Natural Remedies That Can Be Effective in Soothing Nighttime Colic?

Natural remedies for nighttime colic can be effective in soothing your baby. Home remedies, such as gentle rocking or using a warm towel, may provide relief. However, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional for proper guidance.

Can a Baby's Sleep Environment Contribute to Nighttime Colic Episodes?

A baby's sleep environment, including their sleep patterns and the impact of noise, can contribute to nighttime colic episodes. Understanding these factors can help in creating a soothing environment for your baby.


In conclusion, colic occurring at night can be attributed to various factors. The infant's circadian rhythm and digestion patterns may contribute to increased discomfort during nighttime hours. Additionally, babies may be more sensitive to stimulation during this time, leading to heightened fussiness. Hormonal changes and elevated cortisol levels could also play a role in exacerbating nighttime colic. Lastly, parental stress can impact the baby's reaction and contribute to the intensity of their symptoms. Employing soothing strategies can help alleviate nighttime colic and provide relief for both the baby and parents.