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Infant Colic


Infant colic is a condition in which a healthy infant cries very often and for long periods of time. Crying often starts in late afternoon or early evening. Infant colic may affect babies during their first weeks of life. It usually goes away by the time the baby is 4 to 6 months old.


Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

How to manage colic:

  • Help your baby rest and get plenty of sleep: Let your baby rest and get plenty of sleep in a quiet room. It may help him relax if you play lullabies or other soft music.

  • Try the 5 S's:

    • Swaddling: Use a light blanket to snuggly wrap your baby. Ask your baby's primary care provider if you do not know how to swaddle him with a light blanket.

    • Side/stomach: Lay your baby on his side or stomach.

    • Shushing: Make a loud shushing sound or play white noise for your baby. White noise can come from a clothes dryer, white noise machine, or a vacuum cleaner.

    • Swinging: Gentle, soothing motions may comfort your baby. You may rock him in a rocking chair or cradle, or put him in a swing. You may also take a car ride with your baby or carry him in a front-pack.

    • Sucking: Give your baby something to suck on, such as a pacifier.

  • Be patient and stay calm: It can be very stressful listening to your baby cry for long periods. Take time for yourself to help you better cope with your baby's colic. Ask someone that you trust to care for your baby so you can leave the home, even if it is only for an hour or two. Ask your spouse, a friend, or a relative for help with child care and household chores. Never shake your baby. Shaking your baby can hurt him and cause brain damage.

When you feed your baby:

  • Change your baby's milk or the foods you eat: You may need to change your baby's formula if he has an allergy. If you breastfeed your baby, you may need to avoid foods such as milk, cheese, wheat, and nuts. These foods may cause your baby to develop an allergy. Ask your baby's primary care provider for more information.

  • Hold your baby upright while feeding him a bottle: This will help him swallow less air from the bottle. You could also try using a curved bottle or a bottle with collapsible bags to decrease the amount of air he swallows.

  • Burp your baby after each feeding: Burp your baby after each feeding. This helps remove gas from his stomach.

  • Avoid giving your baby a bottle every time he cries: There are many reasons why a baby cries. Check to see if the baby is in a cramped position, is too hot or cold, or has a dirty diaper. Only feed your baby if you think he is hungry. Do not feed him just to make him stop crying.

Contact your child's primary healthcare provider or pediatrician if:

  • Your baby has a fever.

  • Your baby's skin has swelling or a rash.

  • You have questions or concerns about your baby's condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your baby has trouble breathing or his lips and fingernails turn blue.

  • Your baby is not able to eat or drink.

  • Your baby is urinating less or not at all.

  • Your baby looks very weak, sleeps more than usual, and is hard to wake up.

  • Your baby's bowel movement has blood in it.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Infant Colic (Aftercare Instructions)