Colic is a stressful condition that can occur soon after your baby is born. In fact, colic strikes in nearly 40 percent of all babies.
A colicky baby cries for more than three hours a day, at least three days per week, for more than three weeks. While the precise cause is not known, some people feel that digestive discomfort may accompany the crying.
There’s no official treatment or cure for colic. For many parents and babies, this equates to a stressful and emotional rollercoaster that can last for a few months.
The good news is that there are a few remedies that may offer some relief. Talk to your pediatrician about the following seven natural treatments.
The best natural remedy for colic might be probiotics. They contain certain strains of bacteria that help aid digestive health. In adults, probiotics have gained popularity in forms other than supplements, like yogurt.
You can’t give your young infant yogurt quite yet, but you might consider exploring supplementation. Probiotics are available in drop form for easy administration. The Journal of Family Practicereported overall reduced crying time in exclusively breast-fed colicky babies when they were given probiotics.
Given both the probable safety and efficacy of probiotics in babies, this treatment method is certainly worth trying. Talk to your doctor before administering any drops.
Chamomile is a daisy-like flower that has been used in herbal medicine for centuries.
A study in Pediatrics in Review reports that a seven-day trial of herbal tea containing chamomile alleviated symptoms for 56 percent of the infants who participated. No adverse side effects were reported in any of the participants.
While your baby certainly isn’t ready for a traditional cup of tea, you still might be able to reap some of the benefits of chamomile for colic relief. Simply brew a fresh cup of pure chamomile tea with boiling water. Let the tea sit and cool completely before placing in a bottle for your baby. Only use caffeine-free tea that is purchased, not grown in a garden, as garden soil can occasionally contain spores that cause botulism.
You can also try applying chamomile and other soothing herbs topically. This process is also known as aromatherapy. The idea here is to use specific aromatic plants — the health effects are purportedly released when you inhale the scents.
Since it’s unlikely that you have a chamomile plant lying around, your best bet is to look for essential oils — these are extracts of the plants, and they have stronger scents. For convenience and less mess, essential oils are also available in roll-on formulas. You can stick with chamomile, or even lavender for soothing relief. Essential oils are also available in combination formulas, some of which are used to promote relaxation. While the effects of aromatherapy have not been widely studied in infants or shown to help colic, it is likely safe. Watch for any rash or sensitivity to the oils.
Talk to your pediatrician before using any essential oils on your baby.
4. Dietary changes for breast-feeding moms
Breast-feeding is not thought to cause colic. But some of the foods you eat might contribute. Watch out for allergenic foods, including:
The Mayo Clinic suggests limiting these foods for up to two weeks. During this time, observe whether or not your baby’s symptoms improve. This could signify a potential food sensitivity, especially if allergies run in your family. It does not mean, though, that your baby will definitely be allergic to any of these foods later on.
5. Get moving
Gentle movements can help alleviate your baby’s colicky pain, while also providing some soothing relief. If the two of you are tired of the rocking chair, here are some other methods that may help:
- take a walk in a stroller
- sit your baby in an infant swing
- go for a drive
- use a vibrating baby chair
6. Try background noise
For some babies, the distraction of some background noise can help stop incessant crying. You can try:
- playing music with nature sounds
- singing a soothing tune
- vacuuming the house
- starting a load of laundry, if nearby
These types of steady noises might make your baby cry less. On the other hand, some babies respond better to less stimulation. If this is the case for your child, you can see if holding and rocking your baby in a quiet dark room helps.
Every baby is different, so you might need to try out a few of these methods to see what works best.
A light massage can potentially work wonders for soothing a colicky baby. Hold your little one across your lap and gently massage their neck and back. Your baby might also respond to gentle massages around their temples and earlobes.
You don’t have to be a certified masseuse for your baby to reap these benefits. Even holding your baby close helps provide a sense of comfort.
There’s no solution or treatment for colicky pain that works for all babies. Any treatments for colic should be approached on a trial and error basis, with an understanding that they may or may not work.
You can also talk to your pediatrician about these methods to see which is best. They might discourage the use of herbal remedies like chamomile because of the risk of allergic reactions.
Time is perhaps the best healer of colic. Most babies with colic find relief by the time they are 3 or 4 months old. But if you find that your baby exhibits symptoms beyond this, you should see your pediatrician for an evaluation.
Remember, it’s perfectly OK to give yourself a break. While you might feel helpless at times, know that your baby’s colic is not your fault. Seek help from friends and relatives who can care for your baby, even if it’s only for a short period of time.
The more you are able to take care of yourself, the better equipped you’ll be to comfort your baby through colicky fits.