SymptomsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Fussing and crying are normal for infants, and a fussy baby doesn't necessarily have colic. In an otherwise healthy, well-fed baby, signs of colic include:
- Predictable crying episodes. A baby who has colic often cries about the same time every day, usually in the late afternoon or evening. Colic episodes may last from a few minutes to three hours or more on any given day. The crying usually begins suddenly and for no clear reason. Your baby may have a bowel movement or pass gas near the end of the colic episode.
- Intense or inconsolable crying. Colic crying is intense and often high pitched. Your baby's face may flush, and he or she is extremely difficult — if not impossible — to comfort.
- Posture changes. Curled up legs, clenched fists and tensed abdominal muscles are common during colic episodes.
Colic affects as many as 25 percent of babies. Colic usually starts a few weeks after birth and often improves by age 3 months. By ages 4 to 5 months, the majority of babies with colic have improved.
When to see a doctor
Seek immediate medical attention if your baby's crying could be the result of a fall or injury.
Contact your baby's doctor if you're concerned about your baby's crying, especially if you notice changes in your baby's eating, sleeping or behavior. You can help your baby's doctor by tracking in a diary when your baby cries and for how long. Also record your baby's sleeping and eating patterns.
- Colic. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/sec19/ch266/ch266f.html. Accessed Feb. 28, 2011.
- Roberts DM, et al. Infantile colic. American Family Physician. 2004;70:735.
- Cohen-Silver J, et al. Management of infantile colic: A review. Clinical Pediatrics. 2009;48:14.
- Savino F, et al. Lactobacillus reuteri (American type culture collection strain 55730) versus simethicone in the treatment of infantile colic: A prospective randomized study. Pediatrics. 2007;119:e124.
- Canivet CA, et al. Infantile colic, maternal smoking and infant feeding at 5 weeks of age. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health. 2008;36:284.
- Savino F. Focus on infantile colic. Acta Paediatrica. 2007;96:1259.
- Turner TL, et al. Clinical features and etiology of colic. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed March 1, 2011.
- Turner TL, et al. Evaluation and management of colic. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed March 1, 2011.
- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 2, 2011.