Infant Colic

Colic is typically defined as crying for more than three hours straight at least three days per week for more than three weeks in a baby who is otherwise healthy. It usually begins when a baby is about three weeks old and typically ends around three or four months of age. Although caring for a baby with colic can test your patience, the condition does eventually go away.

What Is Colic?

Listening to a crying baby can be incredibly stressful. Having a baby that cries most of the time can be a truly difficult experience for parents. An infant with colic is commonly described as a baby that cries for extended periods and cannot be calmed using the traditional techniques.
 
What makes having a colicky baby so difficult is that the typical calming measures do not work and there is no medical cause or explanation for the crying.
 
So much crying can rattle anyone's cage, especially when your efforts to soothe your baby are so consistently unsuccessful. However, it is important to know that colic does not last forever.
 

How Is It Defined?

There is no agreed-upon definition for infantile colic. 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.
 

When Does Colic Begin?

Typically, colic begins when a baby is about three weeks old. Just when you think you are cruising along, things could get a little rocky.
 
If your baby begins crying so much that you think he might have colic, speak to your baby's healthcare provider to confirm your suspicion. If the diagnosis is confirmed, the healthcare provider might be able to shed some light as to the cause and offer some suggestions on how you might be able to minimize your baby's colic symptoms.
 
(See Baby Colic Causes to learn about the possible causes of colic and suggested solutions.)
 
Written by/reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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