When you're trying to determine whether or not your baby has colic, it can be tricky to diagnose it on your own. How much crying constitutes as colic? Is colic different than other types of crying? Does colic come and go?
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, colicky babies cry hard and continuously, at about the same time each day, at least three days a week. The university also noted that consistency of and length of colic is what defines it.
According to Dr. Harvey Karp, author of the book The Happiest Baby On The Block, colic isn't a diagnosis, but a behavioral observation. Karp told Parents that even though colic may be somewhat subjective, pediatricians generally use the "rule of threes" to determine colic: crying begins when a baby is about three weeks old, lasting for more than three hours a day, at least three days a week, for more than three weeks in a row.
Both of these explanations of colic point to the idea that colic is a consistent condition. Karp went on to tell Parents that although colic typically peaks at six to eight weeks, it usually subsides around three to four months. Though consistent, colic doesn't last forever.
The Mayo Clinic describes colic as "predictable crying episodes," which also insinuates that colic is not something that comes and goes, but something consistent once it sets in.
If your baby is experience multiple crying episodes, but the crying episodes are not consistent, it may be something else. The Mayo Clinic recommends keeping a record of your baby's crying if you're unsure whether or not what your baby is experiencing is colic. Track when your baby cries, for how long, and what type of cry it is. They also recommend tracking your baby's sleeping and eating patterns.
If your baby's crying occurs, but is not in the aforementioned pattern (at least three hours, three times a week, three weeks or more), your baby could be crying for a number of other reasons. But if you think your baby's crying could be the result of illness or injury, seek medical attention immediately. Though it's not always easy to determine why your baby is crying, or how to help them feel better, colic has a distinct pattern, and after your first few weeks of living with a colicky baby, you should be able to determine whether or not the crying is colic, or something else.