Does My Baby Have Colic?
If your baby is crying a lot, she may just be uncomfortable. Or it could be colic.
In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask our experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics. In our November-December 2011 issue, we asked WebMD's baby expert, Sarah DuMond, MD, about crying and colic in babies.
Q: My 2-month-old baby cries a lot. Could he have colic?
A: Babies cry and they often cry a lot. It's the only way they can communicate their hunger, fatigue, pain, fear, or sense of being overwhelmed. So crying itself is very normal.
Colic, on the other hand, is unexplained, excessive crying in a healthy baby. For most babies with colic, the crying starts around 3 weeks of age and goes on for several hours a day, usually at the same time (often the late afternoon or early evening), at least several times a week. The crying seems to have no cause. The babies are fed, rested, and have a clean diaper, although they sometimes draw their legs up, which can make it look like they're in pain.
Researchers aren't sure exactly how many babies get colic (conventional wisdom says 20%, but the diagnostic method isn't exact) or why babies get colic in the first place. But colic doesn't last forever, and the crying intensity for most babies peaks at about 4 to 6 weeks, then subsides to normal levels (remember, they all cry) by about 3 months.
Without question, colic can be exhausting for parent and baby alike. Swaddling, rocking, singing, going for a car ride, and creating "white noise" in the background are all techniques that can help calm a colicky baby. But because constant crying can be a sign of an underlying medical problem, check with your doctor to rule out reflux, a hernia, or some other problem.