Colic is one of the most dreaded words of infancy. Colic is common in babies and there is currently no way to tell whether a baby will be colicky or when it will stop, though it generally clears up by 3-5 months of age. There is also no defined cause of colic. Different babies seem to have different reasons for having colic, so no one remedy will work for all of them. Try several methods to see what works for your baby. Sometimes nothing works though there is often a method that does.
Movement – Sometimes movement will help a colicky baby. Try rocking your baby or taking baby for a ride in the car. Never place your baby in a car seat on top of a dryer as the car seat will be vibrated off of the machine and can kill the baby. Babies have also died from being left too long in infant car seats to sleep. Infant car seats curl babies forward, restricting their airways.
Distraction – In some cases, a baby can be distracted during a colicky episode. Try holding your baby and taking him or her for a walk outside if it is warm enough.
The Windi – Sometimes colic is caused by gas stuck in the baby’s intestines. This buildup of gas pressure can cause severe pain resulting in hours of screaming. There is a product made by the makers of Nosefrida called the Windi. It is a small, disposable plastic piece which is inserted into the baby’s rectum which relieves gas pressure instantly. The reviews on Amazon for the Windi are very positive and indicate that this may be a very good method for resolving colic pain in most babies.
The Colic Hold – Try holding your baby face-down on your arm. Place your baby’s cheek in the crook of your arm and hold your baby’s diaper in the palm of your hand so that baby’s tummy is laying along your arm and his or her legs dangle down. Baby’s head should be slightly elevated. The colic hold is often very soothing for colicky babies.
Homeopathics – While there is little to no scientific evidence that homeopathic treatments work, many parents swear that they cured or helped with their infants’ colic. Homeopathic remedies cannot cause any harm, so it won’t hurt if you would like to try this method. Parents who practice homeopathy and would like to see if this remedy will work for them can try colic tablets made by Hyland’s or Boiron.
Lactase Supplements – Lactase breaks down lactose in milk and giving it to baby before or immediately following a feeding may reduce the symptoms of colic, though there is little known reason why this might work. Some parents have used it with success.
Avoid Cow’s Milk – Many babies are intolerant of dairy products, even if it is the mother that is eating them. If you are breastfeeding, try cutting out all dairy for at least three weeks to see if that is the problem. If your baby is drinking a cow-milk based formula, try switching to a brand that has no dairy in it. It can cause colic in babies that are intolerant.
Reduce the Amount of Air Swallowed – If your baby has a poor latch on the breast and is sucking in air through the sides of his or her mouth or if your baby swallows a lot of air from the bottle, they may get colicky from the pressure of gas in their bellies. Ask your pediatrician to check and see if your baby has a tongue tie or lip tie which can cause baby to have latching issues and may cause to swallow large quantities of air when eating. In the mean time, be sure to burp your baby often during feedings. If you are breastfeeding, contact your local La Leche League Leader to have your latch checked. The issue may be easy to resolve if you catch it early on. If the bottle is the issue, try a bottle designed to reduce air swallowing. Also, try sitting your baby up more when he or she feeds so they swallow less air.
Elimination Communication – Some colicky babies benefit from a practice called “elimination communication.” EC, as it is known for short, is a common practice around the world where diapers are not used. Like all baby animals, human babies have an instinct to avoid urinating or defecating on themselves. Diapers are relatively new in human development and many babies still have the ancient instinct not to go on themselves which can cause a baby to become fussy when they need to potty because they want to hold it. Because colic generally occurs at the same time every day and because babies generally have a bowel movement at the same time every day, it may be the issue causing the colic.
EC is not a training method and is very easy to do. In other parts of the world, the mother simply holds baby’s bottom out over where they want their baby to potty. The air on baby’s bottom signals to them that it is time to go. (Have you ever noticed that your baby goes potty as soon as you take their diaper off to change them?) You can try EC by taking your baby’s diaper off and then hold him or her with their back against your belly or chest and each of their thighs in your hands so you are making a sort of chair for your baby facing away from you. Hold your baby over a toilet, bowl, toddler potty, or sink and give them one full minute to see if they will go. Most of the time, they will make a pee or poop or both. Sometimes it can take up to two minutes. If your baby does not go after that time, put the diaper back on and try again later. If your baby is withholding poop, this can distend the colon and cause pain. Letting them eliminate over a potty or sink activates their instinctive signal to release their bowels and may give them relief.
Skin-to-Skin Contact – Babies are also instinctively soothed by skin-to-skin contact with their parents. This contact, also called “kangaroo care” is so beneficial to babies that it has even saved the lives of premature infants in hospitals. Strip your baby down to a diaper and place him or her against your bare chest. If it is cold, you can place baby inside of your (low-cut) shirt. This skin contact may soothe your baby and lull them to sleep.
Switch Formulas – Some babies cannot tolerate formulas that are made from dairy or soy. You may need to talk with your doctor about switching formulas if your baby formula feeds. Sometimes a homemade goat milk formula recipe works well.
Gripe Water – There are various recipes for gripe water, a sort of herbal tea made for babies to help reduce the symptoms of colic. Some of these remedies may be unsafe, so the best option is to try over-the-counter brands of natural gripe water first and follow the directions very carefully to avoid overdose. If you want to try a homemade version of gripe water, be sure to do much research before attempting to give your baby anything as some home remedies may cause lifelong problems for your baby or other serious medical conditions. Also, be sure to only use tiny amounts of any remedy as too much gripe water replaces milk in your baby’s tummy and can cause other serious problems and could even make the colic worse.
Chiropractic Adjustment – While there is little evidence that chiropractic adjustments are helpful or even safe for babies, many parents swear by using chiropractic adjustment for soothing babies’ colic symptoms.
Probiotics – Though one study came out recently which did not find any help for colic from using probiotics, many other studies done have found that giving babies probiotics may help relieve or eliminate colic symptoms. Be sure to speak with your pediatrician to make sure you are giving your baby the right amounts of any probiotic supplements.
Feed More Frequently – If your baby is bottle fed, he or she may need smaller meals more often. If your baby is breastfed, try offering the breast more. Keeping your baby’s tummy full may prevent symptoms of colic.
Hold Your Baby – Many websites and books give the bad advice of putting your baby in a crib and letting them cry. This is never a good idea. Babies are biologically hardwired to desire being held. When left alone, most babies begin crying for their mothers to pick them up. This instinct once protected babies in the wild and is why many babies and young children are terrified of sleeping alone. Holding, rocking and soothing your baby helps them when they are in pain. When a baby is left alone, however, their cortisol levels skyrocket, causing the baby severe distress, especially if they are already in pain from colic symptoms and it can make colic worse. Leaving a colicky baby to cry can have severe effects on your baby’s health and can damage their neurological development. Hold your baby in your arms or in a stretchy wrap carrier such as a Moby carrier as much as possible to help them through their colicky episodes. You can learn how to wear your baby safely in a stretchy wrap by visiting babywearing websites and watching YouTube videos on how to wrap your baby.