What is colic?

  • Colic is crying by a baby for at least 3 hours a day, at least 3 days a week, and starts at around 2 weeks of age.
  • The crying spells usually occur in the afternoon and evening.
  • The baby is crying for no reason (hunger, pain, illness, etc.)
  • The baby acts fine other times of the day.
  • No one knows for sure what causes colic, and it usually resolves around 12 weeks of age.

Some helpful ways to soothe a baby with colic:

  • Swaddle your baby tightly with his arms to his sides.  This has a powerful soothing effect.
  • Try carrying your baby in a front carrier.
  • Put your baby in a swing or vibrating seat.
  • Take him on a car ride.
  • Use a white noise machine.

Colic can be extremely frustrating.  If you ever feel like hurting your child, set him down and walk away until you feel better.  Parents of babies with colic need a break from the crying, so try to find a family member or friend to help out when you feel overwhelmed.

Make an appointment online if:

  • Your baby cannot be soothed
  • The crying began after 4 weeks of age
  • Your child is not feeding well or is not gaining weight
  • You are concerned that your child is ill or in pain

An excellent book on soothing infants, especially one with colic, is The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D.

 Return to the Childhood Illness Guide.