Why does colic happen at night?

Colic is defined as uncontrollable crying in otherwise healthy and well-fed babies that begins within the first three weeks of life, lasts at least three hours per day, happens at least three times a week for at least three weeks. Although colic can occur at any time of day, for most babies this occurs at the end of the day and into the wee hours of the night.

One theory is that colic is caused by increased levels of serotonin, increased levels of serotonin can cause intestinal muscles to contract. As the baby grows and starts producing melatonin (which relaxes the intestinal muscles) around 3-4 months the colic stops. Serotonin levels peak in the evening which is one explanation as to why fussiness increases at night.

Another possible explanation as to why colic seems to occur at night is that most babies’ crying peaks in the late afternoon and early evening. While the cause and timing of colic cannot easily be identified there are some things you can do to try to ease your baby’s discomfort.

  • swaddle
  • gently rock your baby
  • bouncy chair or baby swing
  • white noise
  • gripe water
  • massage