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Signs of Colic

When an infant cries for more than three hours a day, she probably has a condition known as colic. Colic is very common among newborns, and usually goes away without treatment after a period of time.

Colic does not need medical treatment. However, any parent or carer who is worried about their baby's crying may want to get advice from a healthcare professional to make sure there is no serious problem.

Before visiting a doctor, all other possible causes of crying should be eliminated. These include:

  • hunger
  • tiredness
  • lack of contact - some babies want to be cuddled all the time
  • startling - eg due to a jerky movement or sudden noise
  • undressing - most babies don't like the feel of air on their skin
  • temperature - is the baby too hot or too cold?
  • pain - is there an identifiable source of pain, eg a nappy rash

But excessive crying also could mean that your baby is sick. Here are suggestions, courtesy of the Nemours Foundation, on how to tell if your baby is most likely sick or colicky:

  • Sick babies typically have little appetite, and have little or no sucking reflex. A colicky baby will still have a strong need to suck and will be hungry and eat normally.
  • Snuggling and comforting a colicky baby may soothe her crying and make her feel better, but a sick baby does not usually respond well to cuddling.
  • Vomiting is not associated with colic. Although it is normal for babies to spit up occasionally, your baby is probably sick if she is vomiting. Sick babies may also be losing weight, while colicky babies typically continue to gain.
  • A sick baby may have diarrhea or bloody stools, while a colicky baby should have normal stools.

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