Up to 40 percent of all infants have colic, according to researchers – so you’re not alone! Additional comfort: Doctors and researchers are discovering more about what might cause colic, how it affects babies, and what you can attempt to get through it.

What Causes Colic?

What causes babies’ crying, fussiness and colic? There are a number of possibilities:

  • A common belief is that baby’s colic might be caused by the baby’s digestive system. Some colicky babies might have gas that upsets their tummies. It’s difficult to tell whether gas might be causing the crying, or whether all that crying makes a baby gulp in lots of air, resulting in gas.
    • If you are breastfeeding, eliminating certain foods from your diet may help ease your little one’s digestion. If you’re formula feeding, you may want to try switching formulas
  • In some cases, persistent colic may be caused by a cow’s milk allergy. If your little one has accompanying issues like weight loss, vomiting or a skin rash, follow up with your baby’s doctor. You can read more about cow’s milk allergy (which is different from lactose intolerance) and other allergy-related concerns in the Cow's Milk Allergy Center.
  • Some experts think colic may be a normal, temperamental personality trait and it may take certain babies a little bit longer to adjust to life outside the womb.

Excessive Crying May Be Temporary

Researchers agree that babies may eventually outgrow colic, crying and fussiness.

Colic usually starts when a baby is 3 to 6 weeks old and often ends when they reach 3 to 4 months – so luckily, it may just be a phase.

In the meantime, try these quick tips to soothe your baby:

  • Make sure they’re not too hot or too cold
  • Make sure they’re not hungry; if they’re not, don’t over-feed them
  • Burp them often
  • Rub their back and take them for a walk
  • Reducing stimulation for your baby—turning off lights, blocking out loud noises—might help
  • If your baby is formula fed, talk to your doctor about whether changing formula could help

Now that you’ve learned about the causes of colic, learn even more about how to cope with your colicky little one.