What Is Colic?

All babies can cry or fuss for long periods of time, particularly in the first months of life. But persistent crying is more typical in infants popularly considered to have “colic.” This type of crying behavior is defined as occurring for at least 3 hours a day, at least 3 days a week, over a 3-week period.

Clinicians once theorized that colic was a symptom of a physical ailment, such as gas or even lactose intolerance, which required treatment. It was also once believed that a colicky infant would become a child with a difficult temperament.

Colic Is Normal

Based on research into infant crying, we now understand that even the endless tears of the “colicky” baby are perfectly normal, though no one is really sure what causes this more pronounced crying.

  • Studies have shown that colicky babies’ crying patterns and the time of day they cry is no different from those of babies without colic. They just cry more. Among researchers' findings:
  • There are no developmental differences between infants with and without colic.
  • Babies with colic do not have more allergies than babies without colic.
  • Babies with colic do not have a higher incidence of asthma.
  • Colicky babies do not weigh less than babies without colic.
  • Babies with colic are not more likely than their peers to have difficult temperaments as they grow.

A new parent's confidence can be shaken by inconsolable crying. Try these tips for soothing your wailing infant. And talk with your partner, family, healthcare provider and even other parents about how the crying, though temporary, is affecting you. Your baby needs comforting, and you need support! 

See also ...

•  Colic, its potential causes and how to cope

•  Colic facts, causes and treatment

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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