Children's Hospital Colorado
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Colic

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Colic is a common condition that’s frustrating for both babies and parents. It’s best known as frequent crying, often for no obvious reason. While experts don’t know for sure what causes colic, it typically goes away on its own as your baby grows.

Most babies cry a lot in the first 5 months of life, and it’s normal for them to cry more between 2 weeks and 3 months old. Babies can still be healthy and normal even if they cry up to 5 hours a day. Some babies cry more than this and if so, it may be helpful to talk to your pediatrician about colic.

What is colic?

Colic is typically defined as crying in a healthy baby for more than 3 hours a day and more than 3 days a week, for more than 3 weeks.

Their crying and fussiness usually happen more frequently in the evening and peak at about 6 weeks old. It’s often not clear why colicky babies cry. Colic episodes usually lessen at 3 to 4 months old but can last until babies are 6 months old. The main effects of colic are disrupted sleep and added stress for both parents and babies.

What causes colic?

Experts don’t know for sure what causes colic in babies, and it may be the result of several factors. Some potential causes of colic include:

  • Undeveloped self-soothing skills to calm themselves down
  • Having trouble adjusting to the world
  • Gas
  • Food allergies, especially to cow milk
  • Overfeeding or infrequent burping

Who gets colic?

Based on research on baby colic, all babies are at equal risk for colic. Up to 1 in 4 babies have colic, and there are no known risk factors for colic.

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