Colic is defined as a baby whose crying lasts for more than 3 hours a day at least 3 days per week for more than 3 weeks. Colicky babies usually get fussy toward the end of the day, but colic can happen at any time.
Colic usually starts a few weeks after birth. It usually goes away by age 3 months, although it can last longer. If your baby is still colicky after 3 months of age, he or she may be experiencing a reflux disorder.
Babies who have colic cry a lot more than most babies. They may clench their fists when crying, curl up their legs or seem like they are in pain. They may even turn bright red from crying. A baby who has colic may cry in bouts or may cry almost all of the time. When your baby cries, he or she may swallow air. This may give your baby gas and make your baby's tummy look swollen and feel tight, which may make him or her even more uncomfortable.
Try feeding your baby if more than 2 hours have passed since the last feeding. Feed your baby more often and less at a time.
If you feed your baby formula, your family doctor might suggest trying a different brand. Warming the formula to body temperature before a feeding may also help.
Try using a nipple with a smaller hole on the bottle if a bottle feeding takes less than 20 minutes. Avoid feeding your baby too quickly.
Sometimes babies who have colic will respond to different ways of being held or rocked.
Colic can be very frustrating for parents. Babies who don't stop crying can be hard to care for. Any time you feel overwhelmed and frustrated, get someone else to watch your baby for a while.
If you can't find anyone to help you, try going into a nearby room and watching TV or listening to the radio. Make sure your baby will be safe without immediate supervision. Crying will not hurt your baby. Be sure you give yourself time away from your baby so you don't get too frustrated.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff