The word ‘colic’ is used to describe regular unsettled behaviour (or crying) in a baby. A baby is said to be ‘colicky’ when you have tried methods by which to settle her, such as soothing or feeding, and she continues to cry. While it is very stressful to watch your baby cry, colic is considered a normal part of development. Colic usually doesn’t begin until a baby is two weeks of age. Most babies ‘grow out’ of colic by age four months. There is no single cause for colic.


The main symptom of colic is crying and failing to settle. These crying bouts usually go for a few hours, and are most common in the afternoon or evening (the ‘witching hour’). A colicky baby seems distressed and unsettled, almost like she has a tummy ache or wind. However, not every crying baby has colic. If your baby has any of the following symptoms, do not attribute the crying to ‘colic’, and see your doctor instead:
  1. Fever
  2. Rash
  3. Distended abdomen
  4.  Poor feeding
  5. Less wet nappies than expected
  6. Unexpected prolonged crying
  7. If your baby looks unwell, or you are concerned, see your doctor.


There is no single recommended treatment for colic. That said, it is helpful to see a doctor to rule out medical causes for colic, and for further advice. There are ways you can help your baby feel more comfortable. Firstly, check for reasons that she may be crying. Could she be hungry, or cold? Does she have a dirty nappy? Next, offer comfort by cuddling or rocking. You may also wish to try a dummy. However, by definition, a baby with colic is unlikely to settle with these techniques. Consequently, your aim may not be to stop her crying, rather to keep calm yourself while trying to soothe her. Listening to your baby cry can be very stressful. Remind yourself you are not alone; many other mothers have also had colicky babies, and the good news is babies do grow out of colic eventually. Talk to your doctor if you feel you are not coping.

Reviewed by Dr Evelyn Lewin 25 February 2015 references
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This document has been developed and peer reviewed by a KIDS HEALTH Advisory Board Representative and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.

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