Colic remedies – how to soothe a colicky baby

colic remedies and how to soothe a colicky baby babywombworld

There is nothing enjoyable about sitting with a screaming baby for hours on end. Let us first make it very clear. Having a colicky baby is not what you envisioned when you planned your baby room and dreamed of your baby’s soft skin and sweet-smelling head. A red scrunched-up face and wails that wakes the neighbours… not so much.

Most babies will experience some sort of colic

And yet the reality is that due to an immature gut and adapting to life outside the womb, most babies will experience some degree of winds, cramps and crying. This can range from mild discomfort at certain times of day, to crying that seems to never stop. There is a reason why you probably received Gripe water and some other colic remedies and drops as gifts in your pregnancy! But more on these below.

Society calls it ‘colic’, which is most probably what your doctor will diagnose baby with as well. Colic is an encompassing term for crying and unhappiness that seems to stem from baby’s digestive tract. The truth is that there is a lot that we still don’t know about the topic, including all the exact causes and (sadly) all the solutions.

Below info on a few different angles and colic remedies to help you survive the next couple of weeks or months.

Colic remedies and ways to soothe your unhappy baby

Firstly it’s a personality thing

This according to Ayurvedic medicine which is a Chinese medicine linking health problems to certain physical and mental make-ups. Some babies are simply by nature more prone to cramps winds than others. These are often smaller-built little ones that seems to have a sensitive nature right from the start. They are usually poor sleepers as well (seems that you really won the jackpot!).

They typically grow up to be creative, lively and interested in the world! Their digestive tracts will often remain a sensitive point, and they tend to suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome later in life. They are more anxious by nature, but people who see and pursue possibility, often responsible for new and exciting ideas and initiatives. So mama, don’t lose hope just yet. You will eventually enjoy this little human being causing so much distress to you now.

ALSO READ: Setting the Page for A Good Night’s Sleep

Mom’s emotions

Yes, you heard right. It is important to know that mom and baby was connected by an umbilical cord for 9 months. Cutting the cord does not severe this important tie. If you are anxious and stressed, your baby will sense this and will respond by being more difficult and fussy.

This is not so easy to manage though. A new baby is stressful, and there is no way not to become anxious when they cry. But try to portray to your baby that all is OK. And make sure that you look after yourself and that you gather some help and support from those around you in your time. Now is not the time to try to do it all on your own. Consider using Natura’s Rescue Remedy to help you cope.

Breastfeeding difficulties

If a breastfeeding baby cries people immediately identify two major problems. Firstly, your baby is not getting enough milk and this cry is due to hunger. You should know that the only way to know that your baby is getting enough milk is to look at baby’s weight and the amount of nappies in 24 hours, not at baby’s behavior.

Secondly your diet gets blamed, and new moms are told to cut out almost everything but water. Off course there are some cases where babies can be sensitive to something, especially dairy. But the independent evidence tells us that there is no specific food causing colic in babies, and you should be able to eat everything in moderation. By all means try eliminating some things for a few days, but if it doesn’t make a difference then this is obviously not the cause.

There are definitely two breastfeeding factors that can lead to crying though:

  • Latching difficulties, especially if baby has a tongue tie. This can lead to baby swallowing winds and air. It can also cause reflux. You should consult with an experienced lactation consultant to assist you with this matter.
  • Secondly, not understanding baby’s feeding queues. Trying to feed baby on a schedule instead of when they are hungry will also cause unhappiness.

Formula choice

If you are formula feeding your baby it may be that baby is sensitive to the formula choice. Don’t just randomly change to another brand. There are many formulas on the market, with different attributes. Consult with your doctor or clinic sister to help you choose a possible better option for your baby.

Consider seeing a chiro

How your baby was lying inside the uterus and how your baby was born can affect the alignment of baby’s spine. This can place pressure on nerves going to the digestive tract, which can lead to symptoms like cramps and reflux. Consider seeing a chiropractor specialising in babies, as most mothers report that brought relief. It would be a good option to consider before starting medication for baby. Most medical aids cover these consultations as well.

Remedies and medications for colic

Gripe water

Let’s start with this big one, society’s first recommendation for cramps in babies. Woodward, the manufacturers of the original gripe water that we know, used a formula from the 1840’s used to treat a malaria-like disease in children to create a colic remedy for today. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3356971/)  It contains dill seed oil, sodium bicarbonate and alcohol. There are other formulations that claims to be alcohol-free.

The truth is that there is not enough reliable evidence to show that it works. Formulations containing alcohol is definitely not ideal for babies. There are also various concerns, including sugar content and it’s effect on bacterial growth. Ingesting too much sodium bicarbonate can also be harmful. So even though many healthcare professionals suggest using Gripe water, there are definitely better things on the market.

Pharmacy mixtures

A second note of caution is on ‘colic mixtures’ made by pharmacists. These typically contain no list of ingredients, which in itself is a questionable practice. If you don’t know what you are giving your baby it may include medicine that is harmful when used for longer periods or too often. You may also give it together with another drug, which may cause harmful interactions. It would be better to get a prescription from your doctor for a specific medication, rather than using a general blend of who-knows-what.

Natural remedies for colic

There are many more natural remedies available to treat colic and cramps. It may be a good idea to try some of these before opting for conventional drugs. Although no colic medication will solve the problem completely, it can bring relief until baby outgrows the issue. Below are a few suggestions.

  • Heel’s Viburcol suppositories contain Chamomilla, which is calming and soothing. This is a wonderful remedy that is definitely worth trying for cramps and unhappiness in general.
  • ColicCalm is another homeopathic remedy that is safe to use and that many moms find effective.
  • If your baby has lots of hiccups, pulls up his legs while cramping and has explosive winds and stools, you can try Natura’s tissue salt Mag Phos.
  • Tibb Health Sciences’ BonnyCare syrup is a herbal mixture for cramps and crying.
  • Although not strictly natural, Telament drops is a remedy commonly used for babies. It is considered to be fairly safe and effective, although it can worsen reflux symptoms.

Prescription medications

If the above fails, your doctor may prescribe medicine like Buscopan or Infant Gaviscon. In some cases further testing to diagnose problems like reflux may be necessary. Reflux should be properly diagnosed before treated with reflux medication, as these can have longer term side-effects and should not be used unnecessarily.

A last word of hope

You should know that this is not going to last forever. Most babies gradually start outgrowing colicky symptoms from around 3 months onwards. We know this seems like an impossibly long time if you are in the middle of it right now. But don’t loose hope, and just take things day by day. And know that you not alone – there are many mothers going through what you are going through right now. This, too, shall pass.

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Christine Klynhans is a midwife and lactation consultant with a firm believe that gentle parenting can change the world. She has worked in midwifery since competing her B.Cur nursing degree in 2004, and has a special passion for education and for writing. She currently works in a well-baby clinic and give antenatal classes and breastfeeding support. She enjoys working with parents of babies and toddlers, aiming to help them find gentle solutions to their parenting problems and assisting them in incorporating healthy habits and natural health alternatives into their daily lives.