Your baby is considered colicky if s/he’s younger than 5 months old and cries for more than 3 hrs in a row, on 3 or more days/week, for at least 3 wks. Treat colic by eliminating common food allergens like dairy, gluten, fish, citrus and caffeine from the mother's diet. Try Gripe water, probiotics and physical calming to soothe the infant. If it still persists, consult a doctor.
If your baby has been crying inconsolably and nothing you do to try to help your baby during these episodes seems to bring any relief, your baby may be “colicky”.
Colic is an uncontrollable crying in an otherwise healthy baby. Your baby is considered colicky if s/he’s younger than 5 months old and cries for more than three hours in a row, on three or more days a week, for at least three weeks.
Colic is a frustrating condition that can be distressing for both you and your baby. However, colic is relatively short-lived and gets better on its own after a few months and is usually nothing to worry about.
Signs And Symptoms Of Colic
- Intense crying bouts.
- Crying in the late afternoon or evening that lasts several hours.
- The baby’s face is flushed and turns red while it cries.
- The baby clenches fists or arches its back while crying.
- The baby does not want to feed and may pull up their knees. Sometimes the baby’s tummy (abdomen) appears to rumble.
- The cry may sound different and more piercing than normal.
- The baby may appear to be settling when suddenly another bout of crying occurs. This may go on and off for several hours until he or she settles and falls asleep.
Causes Of Colic
Colic’s exact cause is unknown and that’s why there’s not a clear way to help it. Some theories of what’s behind it include:
- A growing digestive system with muscles that often spasm
- Hormones that cause stomach pain or a fussy mood
- Food allergies (especially to dairy and soy formulas)
- Oversensitivity or overstimulation by light, noise, etc.
- Emotional stress
- General fussiness
- A still-developing nervous system
- More serious causes include medical conditions or illnesses, such as an ear infection.
Home Remedies To Treat Colic In Babies
1. Dietary Changes
The best way to figure out if your child’s discomfort is caused by a food allergy is to use an elimination diet. If you’re breastfeeding, it is advisable to give up foods that can trigger baby colic symptoms. Dairy is a huge culprit. So, are other common allergens like wheat/gluten, eggs, shellfish, citrus, caffeine and spicy foods.
In order to use the elimination diet, you have to remove all dairy and wheat products, some vegetables (legumes) and fruits, and all sugars. Once you have removed all of these foods for 30 days, you can slowly start adding foods back in to see if the symptoms come back.
2. Physical Calming Techniques
Physical calming techniques can be very successful at settling a baby that will not stop crying. Swaddling (wrapping a baby snugly in a blanket) is a true and tried method of comforting babies and helping them to sleep for longer periods of times. Babies are also comforted by movement, as it can calm and soothe an upset child. So, incorporate regularly.
Other physical calming techniques that may help include:
- Holding your baby during a crying episode.
- Preventing your baby to swallow air by sitting or holding them upright during feeding.
- Burping your baby after feeding.
- Gently rocking your baby over your shoulder.
- Bathing your baby in a warm bath.
- Gently massaging your baby’s tummy.
3. Anti-Colic Bottles
If your baby is bottle-fed or combination (both breast and bottle) fed, it might be worth trying anti-colic bottles. These specially-designed bottles have an internal vent which is supposed to eliminate the vacuum and air bubbles in a milk feed, thus helping to reduce burping and digestive discomfort.
4. Relieving Colic With Massage And Aromatherapy
If your child’s discomfort is followed by a bowel movement, then help your child process the stool when he starts to get uncomfortable.
Lay your baby flat on their back on a firm, but soft surface and begin to slowly and gently massage the belly in a clockwise circular motion. Before you do this, make sure that your hands are warm and soft by rubbing some organic olive oil quickly between your palms.
For extra comfort, use a calming aromatherapy oil such as chamomile and lavender (5 drops of chamomile combined with 10 drops of lavender).
5. Relieving Colic With Gripe Water
Gripe water can be used to settle babies troubled by colic, wind and tummy pains. Gripe water is a homeopathic remedy containing herbs that help re-balance baby’s digestive system.
Colic is sometimes caused by an imbalance of healthy bacteria in the intestines. Thus, probiotics may also be an option for relieving colic in infants. The composition of gut flora in babies that exhibit colicky symptoms is different than in non-colicky babies.
Probiotics are the opposite of antibiotics, which kill bacteria. Probiotics actually add beneficial bacteria back into the digestive system and can help return the digestive system to a normal state.
7. Get Fresh Air
Fresh air can do wonders. The sun, wind, birds chirping, and movement; all of these elements can help to shift the mood and comfort your baby.
8. Use Sound To Calm Your Baby
Many babies respond well to the gentle hum of a machine, such as a clothes dryer, fan and vacuum.You could also try some soothing music next to the crib.
When To Seek Medical Advice?
Colic may improve using the techniques mentioned above. However, you need to seek immediate medical help if your baby;
- Has a weak, high-pitched, or continuous cry,
- Seems floppy when you pick them up,
- Isn’t feeding,
- Vomits green fluid,
- Has blood in their stool,
- Has a fever of 38C or above (if they’re less than three months old) or 39C or above (if they’re three to six months old),
- Has a fit (seizure),
- Turns blue, blotchy, or very pale, and/or,
- Has breathing problems, such as breathing quickly or grunting while breathing.
If your baby has colic, they may appear to be in distress. But, the crying outbursts are not harmful and, your baby should continue to feed and gain weight normally. Be patient while implementing these home remedies as some can take time to see the effects, particularly the diet/digestive-related ones. Caring for a colicky baby can be extremely frustrating, so be sure to take care of yourself, too.