Colic is a condition in which an otherwise healthy baby cries for extended periods of time without any apparent reason. Doctors define a colicky baby as one who cries for more than three hours at least three times a week for at least three weeks. Parents are told that the baby will grow out of it, usually around three or four months of age, and there isn’t much they can do about it in the meantime.
I did not have a colicky baby but have friends who did. From them and other sources I have compiled a list of ways to help treat babies with colic. (I will also take this time to remind you of my disclaimer. I am not a doctor. Please talk with your doctor or health care professional before trying any of these treatments.)
We’ve been going to a chiropractor for years for monthly adjustments, or as needed for pain or injuries, so I am a complete believer in all the greatness chiropractic care can bring to a person’s overall health and wellness. It also helps that we see a wonderful doctor who has taken the time to educate us on many health issues. I got adjusted throughout my pregnancy and we took our son for his first adjustment when he was three weeks old. I believe everyone should include regular chiropractic adjustments as part of their health and wellness plan.
With that said, I wasn’t too surprised when I learned that chiropractic adjustments might be the least known treatment for colic, yet one of the most effective. Constraint while in the uterus and the birth process itself stress a newborn’s spine and nervous system, especially if the baby is pulled with forceps or vacuum extraction, so chiropractic adjustments are a good idea soon after birth for all babies. In fact, birth trauma might be one cause of colic. I found several websites that list case studies of how chiropractic adjustments helped treat colic in babies:
For example in one study of 132 infants with colic, 91% of the parents reported an improvement after an average of two to three adjustments and within one week of care. If your baby has colic, I strongly suggest you seek a qualified chiropractor for treatment.
The same natural treatment that may prevent childhood allergies also does wonders to reduce colic: a high quality probiotic. From Mercola.com:
Scientists speculate a probiotic worked far better than simethicone because it contributed to an overall anti-inflammatory effect in a baby’s intestines that modulated immune responses in the gut. And, with all the bacteria existing in our guts, it’s not surprising that balancing a baby’s developing gut flora has such a beneficial effect. Total health begins in the gut, so if your GI tract isn’t in optimal health, your overall health will be compromised.
I have also heard that the bacteria a baby ingests from its mother’s vaginal canal during the birth process is very beneficial. When babies are born via C-sections, they bypass this natural process which then compromises the child’s digestive health.
Researchers in Italy performed a study after noting that colicky babies tend to have a lower amount of probiotics (healthy bacteria) in their digestive systems. In the study, 95 percent of babies that received a probiotic (known as L. reuteri ) had fewer colic symptoms after one week, compared to just seven percent of the babies who received simethicone. The full article can be seen here.
When looking for a high quality probiotic for your colicky baby, be sure to find a dairy free one.
Many people have found great success with using homeopathic remedies for various issues, including homeopathic teething tablets. There are a few options for those who want another natural and homeopathic way to treat colic:
- Hyland’s Homeopathic Colic Tablets (three-pack)
- iBaba homeopathic remedy
- Colic Calm homeopathic gripe water
Gripe water is a traditional European preparation that has been used by mothers for centuries, in many parts of the world, to ease the discomforts of infant colic, stomach pain, hiccups, gas, and teething. A friend told me that the key to getting relief from gripe water is to take it continuously according to package directions. For example, if the package says to take a certain amount every six hours then give your baby that amount every six hours; do not skip. Supposedly it’s the regularity that helps make it effective.
A couple good choices are:
If you looked at some of the ingredients in gripe water, you will see that fennel is a common one. Fennel is a perennial herb and one of its properties is that it releases internal gases. The benefits of fennel are found in breastmilk so breastfeeding mothers may find that drinking three cups of fennel tea a day might help their baby’s colic, too. You might be able to make some variation of the tea and give it directly to the baby, maybe in a bottle.
Book: Happiest Baby on the Block
I borrowed The Happiest Baby on the Block from a friend when my son was a baby. It has a lot of great information to help you calm your crying baby – especially a colicky baby. Since my baby wasn’t colicky, I found the book good but not terribly beneficial to my situation. A friend who had a colicky baby, on the other hand, wore out her copy since she used it so much and relied on it daily; she loved it!
In the book the author talks about the fourth trimester (birth-3 months old) and talks about some babies that have an immature nervous system. He teaches the “Five Ss” as a method for calming your baby.
Enzymes help break down food and help us assimilate the nutrients. Babies that have colic may have a tougher time digesting and therefore digestive enzymes may help. You could try full-spectrum enzymes or papaya enzymes. Just sprinkle some of the powder (or if in tablet form, crush into a powder) into an ounce of water.
The quality of the breastfeeding mother’s diet affects the quality of her breastmilk. If the mother has a low-fat diet her breastmilk may also be low-fat and that can lead to symptoms of colic. Omega-3 fats also aid in balancing the autoimmune system. Breastfeeding moms should have plenty of healthy fats in their diet such as olive oil, flaxseed, fish oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, and butter. Here is a great diet for pregnant and nursing mothers, from the Weston A. Price website.
Another method that has brought relief to colicky babies is massage. I’ve found a few sites that have instructions:
A couple drops of peppermint extract from a dropper or in a bottle might help baby’s tummy. I know my mom said that one time my Grandma gave me some peppermint extract when I was fussy and it worked like a charm when my mom couldn’t get me to stop crying.
You can give the baby a morning sun bath for vitamin D, which also improves digestion. You may have had to do this in the early days if your baby was jaundiced.
Although there isn’t a known cause for colic, it may be due to several reasons:
- Structural issues due to the birth affecting nerves
- Immature digestive system
- Food sensitivities or allergies
The remedies I listed aim to help with all of those issues. Let me know what has worked for you.
Wendy – Parenting Tips 365