Colic in babies? Or maybe low and high thresholds?

As a first time mother, I was terrified about sleepless nights. I started reading up about sensory personalities to try and get ahead of it and WOW a whole new world opened up to me!

So let’s start and give a little background to consider when it comes down to colic:

  • Incidence is about 15-20% of babies
  • Unexplained early infant crying or persistent crying
  •  It’s a normal process
  • Usually seen in babies under 3 months of age

Firstly, before you look at Threshold or sensory personalities, it is always important to exclude medical reasons for the crying.   Statistics show that persistent crying is only caused by medical reasons in 5-10% of the cases but these do still need to be excluded.

Once that is normal, the next step would be to check your baby’s threshold or sensory personality and use that to decrease crying.

HIGH THRESHOLD Personalities LOW THRESHOLD Personalities
1.       Social Butterfly 2.       Slow to warm up
This baby loves attention and seeks sensory input in a already busy world – this can leads to over stimulation Hypersensitive sensory profile – respond to sensory experiences in a sensitive way and is quick to startle
Fights sleep and is difficult to get to sleep Shy and takes time to adjust to new input
Doesn’t give warning signals until it is too late Any changes in routine results in a higher chance of an unsettled evening
If in a good routine and sensory input is well managed, unlikely to suffer colic If in a routine and input is limited, can operate as a social butterfly
3.       Settled Baby 4.       Sensitive
Easy sleeper Hypersensitive to any change
Generally calm and easy baby Sensitive to smell, touch, visual input
This is the mom who say her baby is sleeping trough from a young age  (secretly we are all jealous of this mom) Small amount of stimulation – leads to overstimulation
Unaware  or not bothered of stimulation Difficult to settle once exposed to stimulation
Over reacts and irritated by input

How to treat crying colic:

  1. Manage Organic disturbances
    1. Refer to Paediatrician or GP for assessment if organic causes are suspected
    2. Limit dairy in your diet if breastfeeding
    3. Investigate reflux
    4. Space feeding intervals to manage lactose overload
  2. Counselling
    1. It is normal for babies to cry – that is there way of talking
  3. Sensory Management
    1. Limit stimulation
    2. Teach moms the signals and the infant states
    3. Develop a sleep routine ( co-sleeping or sleeping in own room)
    4. Teach swaddling
    5. Value of Sucking
    6. Massage techniques
    7. Use baby nest or nurture one pillow for sleep times – to give boundaries
    8. Baby carrying in a sling or wrap for periods of crying
    9. Soft music or white noise
    10. Stick to 1 Intervention for 5 minutes

There is so much we can do to assist you through this time don’t struggle or be overwhelmed by this phase. Seek assistances and help!

This made me understand my baby so much better and helped me on how to approach the difficult times.

  • Dirkie Coomans – Elan Healthstyle Physiotherapist




Allison Blair

All stories by: Allison Blair