Colic is a term used to describe harmless, self-limited, excessive crying in an otherwise healthy, well fed infant.  Although no set definition exists, many believe colic is crying for 3 or more hours per day on 3 or more days per week in an infant younger than 3 months of age.  Infants with colic often cry for an extended period of time, but seem happy and comfortable in between crying episodes.  The cause of colic is unknown, but it is important to remember colic is not a sign of illness.

Infant care

If your baby is crying and well fed, dry, and not in apparent pain you can try:

  • Using a pacifier
  • Driving in the car
  • Placing your baby in a front carrier
  • Gently rocking
  • Changing scenery, moving to another room or going for a walk
  • Decreasing visual and auditory stimuli
  • Using an age appropriate swing
  • A warm bath
  • Rubbing his or her stomach
  • Swaddling
  • White noise or heart beat sounds

Sometimes none of the above suggestions help soothe an infant with colic. Many infants with inconsolable crying will eventually cry themselves to sleep.  

Parent/self care

Having a baby with colic can be very difficult for parents, caregivers and family. Colic will go away eventually, but in the meantime you need plenty of support. Give yourself a break when you need it. Call on friends and family to help you. Call our office during regular hours if you want advice. Remember, it’s ok to put a crying child down if the stress of crying is overwhelming to you, but be sure to check on your infant every 15 minutes until they are asleep, calm or you feel ready and able to try soothing them again.

When to call

Call our office if the crying suggests the infant is in pain, if your child cries constantly for 3 hours and is inconsolable, if you feel frustrated and think you might hurt your baby, or if you need support and reassurance.

Takeaway message

While colic is frustrating and stressful for parents, it does not indicate illness in infants.  It is normal for infants to cry and there is not always a reason or fix for the crying.

Additional information

Information on colic from the American Academy of Pediatrics.