An adult human comforts a crying baby human

Colic Causes

Colic is a condition that begins in early infancy. It is estimated that colic affects around 20% of babies before they are three months old. The symptoms of colic appear as episodes of uncontrollable, inconsolable crying in babies who are otherwise completely healthy and have no apparent reason to be crying.


Currently, doctors are not sure what causes colic to develop. There are several possibilities that researchers have looked into, but nothing has been definitively determined yet. Some possible causes for colic include:

  • Allergies: There are some theories about colic that point to allergies as the cause for the discomfort and source of the screaming.

  • Lactose intolerance: This is another theory that researchers have looked into for the cause of colic; however it has not been confirmed.

  • Problems with the digestive system: This is one of the most popular theories for the cause of colic. Problems with the digestive system that could cause colic include changes in the normal bacteria found in the digestive system or a digestive system that has not fully developed yet.

  • Anxious parents: Some people believe that if the parents of the child are overly anxious or stressed out, this could contribute to the symptoms of colic.

  • Changes in routine: Another theory is that if there is a significant change in the baby’s routine, such as a difference in the way the baby is fed or comforted, this could contribute to the development of colic as well.

Unfortunately, even though there are several theories, the exact cause of colic is still not known. What appears to cause colic in one baby may not in another, so it is unclear why some babies develop colic while others do not.

Risk Factors

There is one thing that can increase your risk having a baby with colic. Mothers who smoke during pregnancy or after delivery are twice as likely to have a child with colic. There are many other theories about what could make a child more susceptible to colic, but they have all been disproved. Things that do not affect colic include:

  • The order of the child’s birth: Colic does not occur more often in firstborns, middle children, or youngest children.

  • Breastfeeding: Colic does not occur more often in babies that are fed formula.

  • Sex: Girls and boys experience colic in similar numbers. 


Colic can be a very difficult  thing for your family to get through because it can cause a great deal of stress on both the child and the parents. Fortunately, colic does not cause any lasting medical consequences, and it does not increase your child’s risk for any other conditions. If you can just make it through the few weeks or months that your child has colic, everything will be okay and your child will be able to grow and develop normally.

Last Updated: March 28, 2016