Colic is excessive crying in a baby with no obvious cause. During these episodes, it is hard to console the baby. This intense crying occurs regularly over at least a few weeks. It is more common at night.
Colic can start as early as 2 weeks of age. It is the worst at 6 weeks. Colic often disappears by age 5 months.
The exact cause of colic is not known.
Colic-like crying can be caused by certain common problems, including hair or thread becoming tightly wound around an infant's toe or finger. Your doctor will look for these issues.
Colic is most common in babies 2 weeks to 4 months old. Other factors that increase your baby's chance for colic include:
These symptoms may be caused by colic or other discomforts. Some may not require medical care. Talk to your doctor if your baby is having symptoms such as:
You will be asked about your baby's medical history and symptoms. A physical exam will be done. Your baby's weight or weight change will also be checked. Let the doctor know how your baby acts during colic, how long colic lasts, and when it occurs.
To help determine if your baby has colic or another condition, your doctor may ask:
A treatment plan will be chosen based on your baby's condition. Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment that cures colic. There are steps you can take to help reduce the discomfort your baby feels.
Make changes during feeding time:
Friendly bacteria known as probiotics may be helpful. Talk to your doctor about which probiotic may be right for your child
There are a number of herbal alternative treatments available, but they can cause side effects. Check with your doctor before giving your baby any herbs or supplements.
Other strategies that may help include:
It is upsetting to see your baby crying and not being able to help. The high-pitched crying of a colicky baby is also difficult for anyone to listen to. Try to keep in mind that most babies with colic are healthy. Most will outgrow colic by 3-4 months of age. Know that it is not your fault that the baby does not stop crying. To help you get through this period consider:
If you ever feel angry or violent towards the baby, put your baby in a safe place and step out of the room. Call someone for help right away, like your doctor. There are many services available to help you deal with your emotions. The doctor can refer you to these services.
Probiotics may help to prevent colic in some infants. Talk to the doctor about whether this is an option for your baby.
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
Kids Health—Nemours Foundation
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society
Colic. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/colic.html. Updated February 2017. Accessed March 19, 2018.
Colic. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/crying-colic/Pages/Colic.aspx. Updated November 21, 2015. Accessed March 19, 2018.
Infantile colic. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113646/Infantile-colic. Updated February 7, 2017. Accessed March 19, 2018.
5/14/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113646/Infantile-colic: Aviner S, Berkovitch M, et al. Use of a homeopathic preparation for "infantile colic" and an apparent life-threatening event. Pediatrics. 2010;125(2):e318-323.
8/23/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113646/Infantile-colic: Savino F, Cordisco L, et al. Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17 938 in infantile colic: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Pediatrics. 2010;126(3):e526-e533.
4/7/2014 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113646/Infantile-colic: Indrio F, Di Mauro A, et al. Prophylactic use of a probiotic in the prevention of colic, regurgitation, and functional constipation: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Pediatr. 2014;168(3):228-233.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD Last Updated: 5/5/2014