Understanding Infant Crying: Differentiating Normal Crying from Colic Pain

Infant Crying


Are you struggling to console your crying baby? Is it just normal fussiness or a sign of colic pain? Understanding the difference can provide you with valuable insights into soothing your little one. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of both normal crying and colic and provide effective techniques to help you calm your baby during this challenging period.

Normal Crying in Newborns

Newborn babies often cry and display fussiness, especially during the evening hours. This behavior is completely normal and tends to peak at around six weeks of age, gradually improving over subsequent weeks. It is important to remember that as long as your baby is peaceful during the day and the fussy periods only last a few hours, there is typically no cause for concern.

Understanding Colic Pain

Colic is a condition that affects approximately one in five babies. It is characterized by persistent crying, which can occur throughout the day or night and tends to intensify during the evenings. Parents usually notice these changes between two to four weeks of age. Babies with colic may exhibit inconsolable crying, often accompanied by leg stretching, gas passing, and distended bellies.

Causes of Colic

Identifying the exact cause of colic can be challenging. It is often associated with an immature nervous system, making it difficult for babies to regulate themselves and self-soothe. For breastfed infants, colic can be a sign of food sensitivity, where certain foods in the mother’s diet may contribute to the baby’s discomfort. Additionally, colic crying can also indicate an underlying medical problem or illness.

Duration of Colic

While the colic period can be distressing, it is essential to remember that it is temporary. Typically, colic crying begins between two to four weeks and can last until six months of age. However, most babies experience a decrease in the intensity of crying spells around three to four months.

Effective Techniques for Soothing a Baby with Colic

When your baby is experiencing colic, there are various techniques you can try to provide comfort and relief:

Check the basics: Ensure your baby’s needs are met, such as hunger, temperature regulation, clean diaper, and absence of illness.

Embrace motion: Hold your baby in your arms or use a carrier while walking, bouncing, rocking, or swaying. This rhythmic motion can mimic the sensations they experienced in the womb and provide a soothing effect.

Utilize white noise: Background noise, such as white-noise machines, fans, vacuums in another room, or gentle shushing sounds, can help mask environmental stimuli and calm your baby.

Pacifier use: Offering a pacifier can provide comfort to your baby, particularly if they are not hungry. Experiment with different shapes and styles to find the one your baby prefers.

Tummy time and massage: Lay your baby on their tummy and gently rub their back to help relieve gas. You can also try massaging their belly in an upside-down “U” motion to aid gas passage.

Swaddling: Many babies find comfort in being swaddled securely with a thin blanket. Experiment with different arm positions to find what works best for your baby.

Avoid overfeeding: Overfeeding can lead to discomfort. Maintain a suitable feeding schedule and offer a pacifier if your baby seeks additional comfort.

Troubleshoot breastfeeding or formula: Consider eliminating gas-inducing foods from your diet if you breastfeed. For formula-fed babies, consult with your pediatrician to explore alternative formulas that may alleviate colic symptoms.

Seeking Support and Professional Help

Caring for a baby with colic can be overwhelming, and it is crucial to ask for assistance. Share responsibilities with your partner and seek help from family members or friends to allow for breaks and relief. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, it is acceptable to take a short break to calm down. Place your baby in a safe space and return once you have regained composure. Remember, the safety of your baby is paramount.

Don’t hesitate to consult your pediatrician if you suspect your baby has colic. They can help rule out any underlying medical conditions and provide guidance tailored to your baby’s needs. Additionally, if you experience feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, or loss of control, reach out to your pediatrician for support and guidance.


Differentiating between normal crying and colic pain is essential for understanding your baby’s needs. By utilizing effective techniques and seeking professional advice, you can navigate through this challenging period and provide comfort to your baby. Remember, you are not alone, and help is available when you need it.