Skip to content

Health & Baby

Font Size

Could Your Baby's Crying Be Colic?

Parenting a baby who's always cranky is a huge challenge for a new mom or dad. What do you do when your infant is crying at 3 a.m. and nothing soothes him for more than a few minutes? Friends may say your baby is "colicky." You don't care what it's called, as long as there's a way to fix it. Is there? Read on.

What Is Colic?

Colic is a bit of a mystery. The term applies to any healthy, well-fed infant who cries more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 days a week, for more than 3 weeks. Here's what we know about it:

  • Colic usually starts around age 2 weeks in a full-term infant (or later in a premature infant).
  • It almost always goes away on its own by 3 or 4 months.
  • Gender, breast- or bottle-feeding, and birth order don’t affect it.
  • Kids who had colic as babies are no different than those who didn’t.

What Causes Colic?

Colic’s exact cause is unknown, and that's why there’s no one way to help it. Some theories of what’s behind it include:

  • Tummy trouble, perhaps a problem with the cow's milk protein or lactose in some baby formulas
  • Reflux -- heartburn due to stomach acid and milk flowing back into the windpipe
  • A growing digestive system with muscles that often spasm
  • Gas
  • Hormones that cause stomachaches or a fussy mood
  • Oversensitivity or over-stimulated by light, noise, etc.
  • A moody baby
  • A still-developing nervous system

If you're concerned, make sure your baby is thoroughly examined to rule out a medical cause for the crying and fussiness. Possible reasons for irritability include:

Treating Colic

Based on your baby's needs, your pediatrician can help. This usually means trying one calming method at a time to see if it helps and, if it doesn't in a few days, moving on to another one.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

mother on phone holding baby
When you should call 911.
Mother with baby
Unexpected ways your life will change.
baby acne
What’s normal – and what’s not.
baby asleep on moms shoulder
Help your baby get the sleep he needs.

mother holding baby at night
mother with sick child
Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
Track Your Babys Vaccines
Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
Woman holding feet up to camera
Father kissing newborn baby
baby gear slideshow