Colic in Babies
Although there is no agreed-upon definition for colic in babies, most healthcare providers consider a baby to have colic when he or she cries for more than three hours straight at least three days per week for more than three weeks, but has a clean bill of health otherwise. This is known as the "rule of three," or the Wessel criteria.
No one knows for sure what causes baby colic. Researchers have studied possible biological, social, psychological, and physical factors. But no single factor has been shown to cause colic.
Because babies with colic are otherwise healthy, it is not caused by a medical condition. It is also not caused by something that the parents are or are not doing.
You can take comfort in knowing that colic will not last forever. Typically speaking, colic peaks around 6 to 8 weeks, and then goes away around the baby's third month (symptoms get better in 60 percent of infants by month 3 and 90 percent of infants by 4 months of age). In many cases, it stops as mysteriously as it began.
(Click Infant Colic for more detail on babies and colic. This article also discusses the differences between normal crying and crying in a colicky baby, describes possible risk factors, and explains how colic is diagnosed. You can also click on any of the links in the box to the right for more specific information.)