Colic is when a baby cries a lot but there's no obvious cause. It's a common problem that should get better by around 3 or 4 months of age. But call NHS 111 or see a GP if you're worried.

Check if your baby has colic

All babies cry, but your baby may have colic if they cry more than 3 hours a day, 3 days a week for at least 1 week but are otherwise healthy.

They may cry more often in the afternoon and evening.

It may also be colic if, while they are crying:

It can start when a baby is a few weeks old. It usually stops by the time they're 3 to 4 months old.

If you're not sure it's colic

There are other reasons why your baby may be crying.

It could be they:

If you're not sure what's wrong, it's best to speak to your health visitor, call NHS 111 or see a GP to be sure.

Things you can try to soothe your baby

Your baby does not usually need to see a doctor if they have colic. Speak to your health visitor for advice and support.

Health visitors and doctors will usually advise you to:

Other things you may hear about include:

But there's very little evidence these things work. Speak to your health visitor for further advice.

Non-urgent advice: Call NHS 111 or see a GP if:

  • you're worried about your baby's crying
  • your baby has colic and nothing seems to be working
  • you're finding it hard to cope
  • your baby is not growing or putting on weight as expected
  • your baby still has symptoms of colic after 4 months of age

A GP will check for possible causes of your baby's crying.

Immediate action required: Go to A&E or call 999 if:

  • your baby has a weak or high-pitched cry
  • your baby's cry does not sound like their normal cry

You know better than anyone else what your child is usually like. Trust your instincts if you think something is seriously wrong, particularly if they have other worrying symptoms.

How to cope if you have a colicky baby

Looking after a colicky baby can be upsetting, but it's usually nothing to worry about and will pass with time.

Ask for support:

Causes of colic

It's not known exactly what causes some babies to get colic. But it may be because babies find it harder to digest food when they're young.

Or they may be crying because they have problems with food allergies, such as a cows' milk allergy.

Page last reviewed: 26 April 2022
Next review due: 26 April 2025