Regular episodes of inconsolable crying, usually at the same time every day

  • Most common between the ages of 3 weeks and 3 months
  • Gender, genetics, and lifestyle are not significant factors

From the age of about 3 weeks, many babies start to cry vigorously at approximately the same time each day, usually in the evening. This crying may sound different from crying at other times, and the baby may also draw up his or her legs. During these episodes, the baby may not respond to any form of comfort, such as feeding or holding, for more than a few minutes. The baby may continue crying for up to 3 hours. Episodes of crying that do not have this regular pattern are not called colic (see Excessive crying).

Although the baby may appear to be in pain, colic is not due to an illness, and the crying does not cause permanent harm. However, parents may find the condition distressing. The cause of colic is unknown, but the crying may be made worse by tiredness or an unsettled environment.

What might be done?

You should try to arrange your day so that you can comfort your baby when he or she is crying. If you have difficulty coping and require advice and support, consult your doctor or health visitor. You should consult your doctor if your baby develops additional symptoms, such as fever, which may indicate an underlying infection. The doctor will examine your baby in order to exclude other causes of the crying. Occasionally, the doctor may suggest that you try giving your baby an over-the-counter remedy to relieve the colic. However, this type of treatment is only helpful in some cases. Colic disappears suddenly, on its own, usually when a baby reaches about 3 months of age.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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