From Colic to Calm

A colic baby can make parents feel helpless, frustrated and overwhelmed. Here are some tips and natural remedies to help get you through the bouts of fussiness.

What is Colic?

Colic is frequent, prolonged and intense crying or fussiness in a healthy infant. The baby’s distress occurs for no apparent reason and no amount of consoling seems to bring any relief. These episodes often occur in the evening, though they can occur through out the day as well. Episodes of colic usually peak when an infant is about 6 weeks old and decline significantly after 3 to 4 months of age.

What Causes of Colic?

The cause of colic is unknown. It may result from numerous contributing factors. While a number of causes have been explored, it’s difficult for researchers to account for all the important features, such as why it usually begins late in the first month of life, how it varies among infants, why it happens at certain times of day and why it resolves on its own in time.

Possible contributing factors that have been explored include:

  • Digestive system that isn’t fully developed
  • Imbalance of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract
  • Food allergies or intolerances (common colic causing foods in breast milk include dairy and soy products, peanuts, wheat, eggs, corn, cabbage family vegetables ie broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, caffeine and chocolate)
  • Overfeeding, underfeeding or infrequent burping
  • Early form of childhood migraine
  • Family stress or anxiety

What Are the Symptoms of Colic?

Fussing and crying are normal for infants, especially during the first three months. And the range for what is normal crying is difficult to pin down. In general, colic is defined as crying for three or more hours a day, three or more days a week, for three or more weeks.

Features of colic may include the following:

  • Intense crying that may seem more like screaming or an expression of pain
  • Crying for no apparent reason, unlike crying to express hunger or the need for a diaper change
  • Extreme fussiness even after crying has diminished
  • Predictable timing, with episodes often occurring in the evening
  • Facial discoloring, such as reddening of the face or paler skin around the mouth
  • Bodily tension, such as pulled up or stiffened legs, stiffened arms, clenched fists, arched back, or tense abdomen

Sometimes there is relief in symptoms after the infant passes gas or has a bowel movement. Gas is likely the result of swallowed air during prolonged crying.

What Remedies Work for Colic?

  • Stay calm as your baby will pick up on your stress
  • Keep a journal to see if there is any correlation or pattern with anything
  • If breastfeeding, avoid common foods listed above
  • If formula fed, switching formula may be beneficial
  • Go for a stroll with your baby
  • Play music or white noise
  • Put baby in a vibrating seat or a car seat, belted in atop the dryer and turn on the dryer. Do not leave unattended
  • Place in bassinet and take a few minutes to breathe
  • Take turns with dad or have a friend or relative come over to relieve you for a bit
  • Talk to other parents of colicky babies for support
  • Cry if you need to but do not blame yourself, this is not your fault. This will end and without any long term affects.

What are Alternative Therapies for Colic?

  • Bicycle with legs
  • Belly massage
  • Burping often
  • Warm bath
  • Warm towel placed on baby’s tummy
  • Rocking
  • Skin to skin contact
  • Find a pediatric chiropractor

What are Herbal Remedies for Colic?

  • Children’s Herbal Compound by HerbPharm 5-10 drops every couple of hours. Also comes in a glycerin base which is sweet and may be soothing.
  • Gripe water
  • Tummy ease tea (Aviva Romm)
    • Mix ½ oz each of fennel, lemon balm and German chamomile together in a cup. (can also use catnip and anise)
    • Take 1 tsp of mixture and place in mug or French press
    • Cover with 1 cup boiling water and steep for 10 minutes
    • Strain herbs and add tea to bottle or administer with a medicine dropper to give several tsp at a time

What Supplements Help Relieve Colic?

  • Probiotic