Heath advice
Father soothing his young baby on the sofa

Colic is the word used to describe unexplained periods of crying in healthy babies. Babies may apppear to be uncomfortable or in pain. Learn more about colic and what you can do if you are worried your child may have it.

What is colic?

Colic is a condition that affects babies. For the first 3 to 4 months of their life, your baby may have episodes of excessive crying and you may find it difficult to comfort them.

There is usually no clear reason for why your baby is crying if they have colic.1

What are the symptoms of colic?

Because there is no clear reason why your baby is crying, it is difficult to know what all the symptoms of colic are. It is generally thought that if your baby has colic, they are experiencing stomach ache, but it can be for many other reasons.1

Colic happens to typically healthy babies. An episode of colic is normally when your baby has cried for more than 3 hours in a day for 3 days in a week for at least 1 week.

They may show other signs of colic when crying, including:

  • Clenching their fists
  • Going red in the face
  • Bringing their knees to their chest
  • Arching their back
  • Having a rumbling stomach
  • Being difficult to settle.2
  • If you think your baby has colic, you can discuss your concerns with your health visitor or GP.

    What causes colic?

    The cause of colic is not fully understood. It could be due to your baby having difficulties with their digestion. The digestive issues may cause your baby to have more gas in their system which can cause discomfort.3

    There may also be a link with the environment the baby is in. If the family or caregivers are stressed, anxious or depressed, it can impact on your baby’s mood.3

    More research is needed to understand the causes of colic. If you are worried about your baby, talk to your health visitor.

    How is colic treated?

    If your baby is otherwise healthy but is experiencing symptoms of colic, you can discuss your concerns with your health visitor. The health visitor will give you advice on what you can try to soothe your baby.2

    Some methods you can try include:

  • Holding and cuddling your baby when they cry
  • Holding your baby upright when feeding to help stop them from swallowing air
  • Winding your baby after each feed
  • Gently moving your baby, e.g., rocking them in your arms, the cot or the pram
  • Bathing your baby in warm water
  • Letting them listen to something in the background, e.g., the radio or a white noise machine.2
  • You can try anti-colic drops or probiotic supplements, but there is not a lot of evidence that they will work.2

    Visit your nearest pharmacy

    Get support and advice from your local Well pharmacist.

    Where can I go for further information and support?


    National charity for pregnancy, childbirth and parenting with a helpline and local support groups.

    NHS Website

    Information about colic, including symptoms of colic and how it can be treated.

    NHS Inform

    Information for people living in Scotland.

    1. Colic in Babies and Infants: Symptoms & Treatment. Published August 7, 2023. Accessed August 10, 2023. https://patient.info/childrens-health/colic-in-babies-and-infants
    2. Colic. nhs.uk. Published October 20, 2017. Accessed August 10, 2023. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/colic/
    3. Colic - infantile | Health topics A to Z | CKS | NICE. Accessed August 10, 2023. https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/colic-infantile

    Published: 13 September 2023

    Next review: 13 September 2026

    Reviewer: Mital Thakrar, Pharmacist

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