What is Colic?

Question

What is colic?

Dr. Greene's Answer

When a baby’s crying lasts longer than three hours a day, it is called colic. Almost all babies develop a fussy period. The timing varies, but it usually begins at about three weeks of age and peaks somewhere between four and six weeks of age.

For most infants the most intense fussiness is in the evening.

I believe that colic exists in order to change deeply ingrained relationship habits. Even after the miracle of a new birth, many parents and families would revert back to their previous schedules and activities within a few weeks – if the new baby would only remain quiet and peaceful.

It would be easy to continue reading what you want to read, going where you like to go, doing what you like to do as before, if only the baby would happily comply.

Instead, the baby’s exasperating fussy period forces families to leave their previous ruts and develop new dynamics which include this new individual. Colic demands attention. As parents grope for solutions to their child’s crying, they notice a new individual with new needs.

They instinctively pay more attention, talk more to the child, and hold the child more – all because of the colic. Colic is a powerful rite of passage, a postnatal labor pain where new patterns of family life are born.

Medical Review on: June 19, 2008
About the Author
Photo of Dr. Alan Greene
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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