The reality is, all babies cry: It’s the best (and only) way for them to communicate their needs at this tender age. And as parents, we’re biologically programmed to respond so those needs get met. But in babies with colic, the crying starts suddenly for no apparent reason…and has no apparent cure.
Colic is not a disease or diagnosis but a combination of baffling behaviors. The term is really just a catch-all term for problem crying in otherwise healthy babies — the problem being, there’s no solution to it besides the passing of time. And it’s common, occurring in one in five infants. Episodes can go on for hours at a time, sometimes late into the night. Worst of all, try as you might — and try you will — it’s extremely difficult to calm a colicky baby, which only compounds your frustration and exhaustion.
The true definition of colic follows the “rule of three.” Baby’s crying:
Starts at around 3 weeks old
Lasts more than three hours at a stretch
Occurs at least three days a week
Persists for at least three weeks in a row
Of course some babies are colic overachievers, crying far more hours and days and weeks.
The good news is that colic doesn’t last. Most bouts peak at around 6 weeks and then end as abruptly as they started, around the time a baby hits the 3 months old (later in preterm babies). In the meantime, a little knowledge and a lot of patience will help you survive until the storm subsides.