Pediatrics | Published February 27, 2020

Ask the pediatrician: Does my baby have colic?

Hi Dr. Collison,

My six-week-old infant seems to cry all the time, especially at night. Could he have colic? Do you have any tips on how to comfort him?

It is normal for babies to cry and they often cry the most in the first two to three months of life. However, if your baby is crying often for no apparent reason (other than being hungry or needing a diaper change) and can’t be calmed, he may have colic.

While there is no known causes of colic, it is diagnosed through the following symptoms:

  • Your baby is healthy, but cries for more than three hours a day at least three days a week
  • The baby’s crying is louder and higher-pitched than normal
  • Your baby’s face may appear red or he may have pale skin around the mouth
  • Your baby stiffens his arms, arches his back, clenches his fist or pulls in his legs

The good news is that colic seems to go away on its own when your baby is between four to six months of age. Until then, there are a few dos and don’ts you can follow to help comfort your baby:

Do:

  • Try swaddling your baby
  • Rock or walk with your baby
  • Offer him a pacifier
  • Hold your baby close against your body and pat or rub his back
  • Put baby in a swing or vibrating seat
  • Go for a car ride
  • Give him a warm bath
  • Alternate between comforting your baby and laying him in a crib and leaving the room in 20 minute intervals.

Don’t:

  • Shake your baby to stop his crying. Shaking your baby is never the answer and may cause serious brain damage.
  • Use natural or herbal remedies such as colic tablets or gripe water. These products are not regulated and may contain unsafe or untested ingredients.

Caring for a colicky baby can be hard on parents. Remember, you are not doing anything wrong! If you become overwhelmed, ask your partner, a family member or a friend to watch the baby so you can take a break. Take care of yourself by eating healthy foods and napping when the baby is sleeping. You can also reach out to your baby’s pediatrician or new parent support groups for advice.

Call your baby’s doctor immediately if your baby’s crying continues and he shows other symptoms such as:

  • A fever of 100.4 degrees Farenheit or higher
  • Your baby stops eating and starts losing weight
  • Vomiting
  • Changes in bowel movements such as diarrhea or constipation
  • Blood in baby’s vomit or stool