By Health Promotion Board in collaboration with Dr. Yvonne Ng, Senior Consultant, Department of Neonatology, National University Hospital.

It's really hard on mummies and daddies when babies won't stop crying. Babies cry a lot even when mummy and daddy have been doing a wonderful job. They cry when they are hungry, sleepy, frustrated and irritated. It's how they get your attention and communicate with the world.

If your little one cries a lot and you have already ruled out other causes such as sickness or a dirty diaper, he may have colic (or excessive crying behaviour), which is a common condition. Up to 1 in 4 babies may have colic.

Colic starts in babies around 2-3 weeks old, and lasts for about 3 months.

Related: Help Your Baby Develop

5 Signs Your Baby May Have Colic

  1. He cries more than 3 hours a day for more than 3 days a week.

  2. The crying begins suddenly for no clear reason, and the crying is intense.

  3. The crying bouts happen at the same time every day, usually late afternoon or evening.

  4. His body stiffens, his abdominal muscles tense, his fists clench and his legs curl/bend.

  5. He poops or farts at the end of the long cry.

Related: Helping Baby Sleep

4 Ways to Handle Colic

1. Soothe your colicky baby

Here are some ways to help calm your baby down:

  • Gently rock your baby. Most babies respond to rhythmic rocking or pats on the back. Some babies settle with a car ride.
  • Cuddle your baby, wrap him in a blanket, feed him, give him a pacifier or sing to him—whatever makes him feel calm.

2. Check that your baby isn't crying because he's sick

Take him to see a doctor if you suspect he is sick.

Related: When to Go to the ER

3. See a doctor if the crying is too intense

If nothing soothes your baby, or his crying is too intense and doesn’t ease up, take your baby to see a doctor.

4. Seek help from family and friends

If you feel overwhelmed at times, it is important to take some time out to care for yourself, and seek help from family and friends to take care of the baby for a few hours. There is no embarrassment in asking for help.

Related: Services, Support Groups and Helplines (for Baby Care)

What Causes Colic?

Colic is a poorly understood condition without clear known causes. Some experts feel that this is a perfectly normal developmental milestone, although in some very rare cases—less than 1%—colic may be caused by milk allergies and immature digestive systems.

Talk to your pediatrician if you're concerned about his crying behaviour.

Don't forget to take care of yourself if you've got a colicky baby! Mummies and daddies experience high levels of stress when they hear the sound of their baby crying. Don’t worry: babies usually outgrow their colic by the time they turn 3 months old.