Family Health Guide

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Babies communicate by crying -- it’s a fact of newborn life. But is it supposed to go on and on (and on)? If your child seems to be crying almost nonstop, day in and day out, for no discernable reason, he may be experiencing colic. This condition is, of course, difficult for baby, but it can also be very hard on parents, especially nervous new ones. 

Colic is a description of unexplained, prolonged intense crying; it’s not a diagnosis of a medical condition like croup or an ear infection. All newborns go through crying jags lasting an hour or two; in some cases the tears can last as long as five hours a day. Traditionally, for a baby to be considered colicky, he had to show sudden and unexplained outbursts of crying in accordance with the "rule of threes": crying at least three hours a day (most commonly in the late afternoon or evening), for three days a week, beginning within the first three weeks of life. However, some colic experts now say that any intense or protracted crying that interferes with baby’s development or affects the child-parent bond is worth treating.

If this sounds like what you’re experiencing, keep in mind that it's not your fault; some babies cry -- a lot. Thankfully, most babies grow out of it by three or four months of age.

Try not to be discouraged by anyone -- especially old-school grandmas -- who advise you to "let your baby cry it out" for hours on end. Although you may need to put your sobbing baby safely in the crib and walk away for a few minutes to collect yourself, crying should always be attended to, since this is the only way your babe can communicate.