A happy baby

Signs Your Baby Has Something Worse Than Colic

New parents have a lot to handle—and that’s without managing an abnormally upset baby. Colic is a diagnosis of exclusion; once everything else has been ruled out, then colic might be an accurate diagnosis. But it’s difficult to be sure when the only real symptom of colic is crying. So how do you know if something more is going on?

What is Colic?

It’s important to understand colic to know if something more is going on with your baby. Colic is diagnosed when an infant cries for at least three hours a day, three days a week, for three weeks or more. Often, the crying starts in the afternoon or evening. Even when the baby is clean, fed, and being comforted, the crying can be intense, long lasting, and extreme. Babies with colic may make faces that look like they’re in extreme discomfort, or curl up into positions that suggest the same. 

When should you talk to a doctor? 

If you’re worried, don’t hesitate to take your infant to the doctor. Even if it is just colic, your doctor may have some helpful tips, and they can give peace of mind. However, the key thing to remember is that there really aren’t any symptoms surrounding colic beyond the crying. This means if anything else is going on, your baby may be suffering from more than colic.

There’s no diarrhea, no excess gas, and no abnormal vomiting. If your baby has the flu, these symptoms may last for up to a week and will likely be accompanied by severe crying. Since little ones are so delicate, it’s important to take them to the doctor as soon as possible to prevent dehydration and other complications. Other warning signs to look out for include:

  • Fussiness 
  • Skin rash
  • Poor weight gain
  • Wheezing, difficulty breathing, or excessive mucus
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low energy levels

Keeping a journal of symptoms may be helpful. Even if the diagnosis is colic, many physicians recommend a “colic journal” to help appropriately treat the infant. 

Last Updated: February 29, 2016