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Excessive crying (colic)

Some babies who are otherwise completely healthy, cry excessively for hours at a time, and can’t be soothed no matter what you do. This crying is often referred to as colic, and can begin from when your baby is just a few weeks old, tends to peak around two months and can last until they are five months old. This can seem like an eternity when it’s your baby crying, so during these periods it is important to plan how you will manage. Babies cry, but you can cope.

Babies often cry more in the late afternoon or evening, and may raise their knees to their tummy, arch their back or clench their fists. Colic is common, and just as likely to affect breastfed babies as formula fed babies.

Excessive crying may be caused by indigestion and wind, or it might be your baby just needs a cuddle, skin to skin contact or some peace and quiet.

Excessive infant crying could also be associated with:

  • Parental stress
  • Depression
  • Possible relationship problems
  • Feelings of guilt, inadequacy and helplessness

If the crying is getting too much for you, it’s fine to put your baby in their cot for a few minutes while you take a break, as long as they are safe; once you feel ready, return to them.

The important thing to remember is that your baby crying excessively isn’t down to anything you’ve done or not done – it’s not your fault! Stay calm and remind yourself that it is normal, you can cope and they will grow out of it.

Talk to your health visitor or GP if you feel that nothing is working and you’re finding it hard to cope. There is support available for parents going through this.

Never shake or hurt a baby. It can cause lasting injury, brain damage or death. Babies cry, you can cope; put your baby in a safe place and walk away until calmer.

This video was not produced by Health for Under 5’s and may contain adverts.

For more information visit iconcope.org

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Page last reviewed: 27-07-2022

Next review due: 27-07-2025