What is colic? What are the symptoms? What is the treatment?

Colic, as applied to a baby under four months of age, describes a crying spell when your baby’s face becomes very red and both legs are drawn up to their stomach as if they’re in great pain.

This crying spell usually comes in the early evening, can reach screaming pitch and last from one to three hours.

It doesn’t usually respond to soothing techniques that work at other times and for parents it can be difficult to endure.

The cause of this spasmodic crying isn’t known. It is at its worst up to three months of age but disappears by four months. Recent research has failed to confirm that colic is caused by pain, even though it looks as if your baby is in pain.

As your baby is contented during the rest of the day, it means that this crying bout isn’t related to a serious physical problem. Colicky babies are usually healthy and thriving.

What are the symptoms?

Your baby cannot settle in the early evening and cries no matter what you do to calm them, becoming red-faced and drawing their legs up.

Should I consult my GP?

As soon as possible if you find you cannot cope with the nightly crying sessions.

Your health visitor will also advise you on how to tackle

the problem.

What’s the treatment?

Colic rarely requires treatment. Your doctor will reassure you that your baby is healthy and they’ll grow out of the colic eventually.


  • Get as much rest as you possibly can during the day while your baby sleeps.
  • Invite good friends in to share that time of the evening with you. A relaxed atmosphere may calm both you and your baby.
  • Talk to other parents who have had colicky babies. Once you realise that colic attacks do pass you may find them easier to bear.


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