Crying vs Colic

Nature designed your baby’s cry to get your attention! Maybe baby is hungry, thirsty, uncomfortable, or having gas or in pain. Maybe baby is lonely and wants to be held and loved on. Heck, just a change in routine, a new experience or feeling tired is enough to make most babies cry. Let’s look at Crying vs Colic.

So how much crying is normal? Research indicates that most babies cry roughly:

  • 2 hours a day in their first 2 weeks
  • 2 hours and 15 minutes a day by 6 weeks old
  • 1 hour a day at 12 weeks old

During these times, baby can typically be calmed with attention and care. If your baby falls into a more intense pattern of crying, it may be colic.

ALSO READ: Conquer Colic

When it’s Colic

To consider whether baby is colicky, think 3-3-3. With colic, baby cries for more than 3 hours a day, for at least 3 days in a week, and for more than 3 weeks—up to 3 months. This type of crying often starts in baby’s first month of life.

Different from normal crying, a colicky baby usually seems distressed or in pain. Colicky crying is extreme with any or all of the following features:

  • Episodic—occurring around the same time each day
  • Intense—more like screaming than crying, with a sense of pain or discomfort
  • Unexplainable—for no apparent reason, such as hunger or diapering needs
  • Physical—baby’s face may redden, and they may tighten their limbs, arch their back and clench their fists

ALSO READ:  Signs baby is Sick: Act On These Baby Warning Signs

Experts aren’t sure what causes colic, but often baby’s passing gas or having a bowl movement relieves it. Colic is stressful for parents yet typically harmless for baby. As possible, stay with baby through these periods, taking short breaks with help from your partner or another trusted adult.

Anytime you or another person feels like they aren’t able to safely hold and console baby, place baby in their crib on their back and walk away. Never shake baby, which could cause lasting harm, or even death. As baby continues to wail, check on them every 5-10 minutes until the inconsolable crying passes.

ALSO READ: How To Deal With Colic, Gas & Reflux

Managing Colic

Help your baby through these intense periods with these tips; are they:

  • Hungry—nurse baby
  • Needing a diaper change—speak softly and slowly as you move through diapering
  • Gassy—burp baby
  • Tense—bathe baby
  • Fussy—go skin-to-skin while you walk or sway
  • Inconsolable—take baby for a walk or car ride


Find Out Why Your Baby is Crying

Baby Burping! Spitting! Oh My!

A Green Start for Your Baby

Cocoon Your Baby

Our Newborn Care and Health Complications sections have many more useful articles on baby care.


Carolyn Davis Cockey, MLS, LCCE, is founding editor of Healthy Mom&Baby, Senior Director of Partnerships & Publications at AWHONN, and a Lamaze-certified childbirth educator in Sarasota, FL.

Comments are closed.

Pin It on Pinterest