First and foremost, what is colic and how do you know if your baby has colic? All babies cry. So what is normal and what is not?
Colic typically presents itself within 2-3 weeks following birth. Most commonly presents as a constantly irritable baby of unknown cause. More specifically, if your baby cries for 3 hours a day, for at least 3 days a week, for 3 consecutive weeks your baby most likely has colic. Some common symptoms of colic include:
- intense crying episodes
- inconsolable crying episodes with no apparent trigger
- arching of back, clenching of fists, recoiling to touch, and other physical/postural changes
So what do you do? Don’t fret there are a lot of natural remedies to try before having to go the medication route. One of the first things to do is to try and figure out the cause. Some of the causes include:
- Antibiotic Use during pregnancy, labor, or shortly after birth by mom and/or baby resulting in a gut issue.
- Birth Trauma resulting in nerve interference.
- Lactose Intolerance. Studies show that cow’s milk protein found in milk based formulas or in the milk of dairy-consuming, breastfeeding, mothers, is by far the greatest cause of colic.
- Immature digestive system
- Allergy/sensitivity to certain foods the baby or mom is eating
- A bad latch while breast feeding (La Leche League can help!)
- Baby not getting enough sleep.
Once you have figured out the cause of the issue, colic is a lot easier to treat. Still unsure? Start by getting you on a good refridgerated adult probiotic and your child on an infant probiotic like this one (both of which we carry at the office). Probiotics help build up you and your child’s digestive system by loading up the digestive tract with healthy bacteria to help digest their food better. This is especially helpful for those mom’s or babies that had to take antibiotics during pregnancy, labor or shortly afterwards. Next, look up the elimination diet, which on this website Dr. Sear’s helps mom’s figure out which foods they are eating are irritating their baby. One of the most common causes of colic are sensitivities to certain food groups. The most popular being dairy, soy, chocolate, caffeine, spicy foods, cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli. According to Dr. Linda Palmer, when looking at food sensitivities, “The chief source of colic in 67% of infants was found to be an intolerance to cow’s milk protein. Additionally relief from colic was gained by additionally eliminating soy and corn (hydrolysate formula), increasing this figure to 84%.”
Another great recommendation is to allow the baby time to burp. As you are getting the hang of having a newborn, especially first time mothers, it is common to not give the baby adequate time to burp, which will lead the baby to be gassy and irritable. How often should you burp a colicky newborn? It is recommended with bottle deeding that parents try to burp their baby after every ounce. Alternatively, with a breastfed baby attempt to burp after they come off the breast for a rest or when they complete draining the breast.
Herbal teas and colic mixtures are another natural way to help combat colic symptoms. “Weleda” and “Holle” are great tea formulas that can be taken by the mother and baby once cooled through a bottle. Fennel is also another great herbal option. A study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine found that fennel seed oil eliminated colic in 65% of infants without side effects.
Another great option would be get your child to a chiropractor. Chiropractic adjustments are a proven effective technique to help combat colic symptoms. A lot of the time, colicky babies have a disturbance in their cervical and thoracic spine’s that can be alleviated easily by a chiropractic adjustment. According to one of the many studies found in the Journal of Manipulative Physio Therapy, parents typically see results within 3 treatments, which stabilize within four weeks. Another study found out of 316 infants over a period of 2 weeks of treatment (usually 3 visits), 94% of the infants showed a successful rating when compared with the other group of babies. The other group of babies medicated for treatment using Dimethicone drops, improved by only 38%.
Lastly, another great way to help combat the gas associated with colic is to get your child on his or her stomach will help to alleviate the discomfort your baby is feeling. You can also hold your child across your forearm to offer some therapeutic relief for the child. There are also some great massage technique’s to help relieve gas that is associated with colic which you can ask your chiropractor how to perform.
- How to Have Well Adjusted Babies by Dr. Jennifer Barham-Floreani