A colicky infant cries for hours for no known reason. The cry is often a fussy screaming. Colic begins in infants about 2-4 weeks old and can last 5 months. It is more common in boys and first-born children.

The exact cause of colic is unknown. Tiredness, food allergy, overly warm milk or overfeeding your baby may play a part. Stress in the home, loneliness and pain may also have a role. Your colicky infant may simply want to be held or to go to sleep. It is hard to treat colic since its cause is unknown. Holding, cuddling and rocking your baby usually works best.

What should you do?

  • Burp your infant after each ounce of formula. If you are breastfeeding every 5 minutes.

  • Do not give a feeding every time the baby cries. Wait at least 2 hours between feedings.

  • When trying to comfort a crying infant, use soothing gentle motions.

  • When your baby is having an attack of gas, hold him securely and gently massage the lower part of the stomach.

  • Try not to let your baby sleep more than 3 hours at a time during a day.

  • The baby’s constant crying can be very stressful. Try to be patient and stay calm. Remember you did not cause your infant’s colic, so don’t blame yourself.

Contact your doctor if: your baby seems to be in pain or acts sick, your baby has been crying constantly for more than 3 hours, your baby develops a high temperature and is less than 3 months of age.

Source: The PDR Family Guide, Encyclopedia of Medical Care (1997)