Colic is not a disease but a name given to describe a condition where otherwise healthy babies cry for prolonged or continuous periods of time for no apparent reason. The crying can be very loud and can last for several hours a day. Bouts of colic can occur at any time of the day, but they often occur in the late afternoon or early evening. While its heart breaking to watch newborns going through fits of colic, especially for first-time parents, colic is not harmful to the baby’s health. If you think your baby is crying because he or she is hurt or sick, call your doctor.
Colic is a common problem that affects one out of 10 infants. Colic occurs equally in baby boys and baby girls, bottle-fed and breast-fed infants and usually begins about 2 to 3 weeks of age and is gone by the age of 3 or 4 months.
While doctors are confident that colic is not due to pain or illness, they are not positive about the exact cause of colic. It may have something to do with a baby’s sensitive temperament and an immature nervous system; or parental stress, which is pick up by the baby, and air swallowed during feeding, crying or sucking.
There is no cure for colic, but there are steps you can take to help soothe your baby. Bear in mind that each baby is unique and each will respond differently to some or a combination of the following natural colic remedies:
Burping: One of the simplest natural remedy for colic is helping your baby with burping. Experts recommend inducing your infant to burp before, after, and during feedings to minimize the amount of air going into the infant’s stomach. During feedings, stop every five minutes or so for about a minute each to try to get your baby to burp. You baby will not like this at first since it disrupt his or her meal, but after a few time, the infant will be accustom to the routine that he or she associates with relieving the discomfort of air in the stomach.
Diet: Another natural remedy is the changing the baby’s diet. Changing a colicky baby’s formula from cow’s milk to soy milk will reduce the amount of gas produced in the baby’s stomach, which in turn may mean less discomfort for the baby.
If a colicky baby is being breast fed, another natural remedy is to change the diet of the mother. Certain foods that normally produce large amount of gas affect the milk produced by the mother and when this milk is processed by the baby, the conversion also produces a similar amount of gas. Breast feeding mothers should avoid foods that produce gas, such as dairy, chocolate, caffeine, broccoli, cabbage, onions, peppers, tomatoes, beans, peanuts, melons, and citrus fruits.
Sound: One of the simplest and oldest natural method to quite and calm a colic baby is the human voice and music. This is probably why lullabies have been around for hundreds of years. Traditional lullabies, classical music composed for infants and womb CDs are very popular nowadays.
Other sounds are just as effective to calm some colicky babies. Some parents have had great success with inducing sleep in babies with sounds produced by dishwashers, washing machines or dryers, vacuum cleaner, bathroom fans and car engines. Some babies will also respond to plain white noise generated from a white noise machine.
Motion: Most infants respond well to being pushed around in strollers or driven around in cars. Motion and movement calms most infants.
Warm Bath or Massage: Massaging the infant’s tummy area may help to relieve uncomfortable trapped gas in the baby’s tummy. A warm water bag or any warming device on top of the infant’s tummy may also help relax stomach muscles and reduce cramps. You can also opt for a warm bath if your baby loves water.
Swaddling: Most colicky babies also respond well to being swaddled or held close to a parent’s chest. The swaddling probably returns the infant to the time the infant was safe and warm inside mother’s womb.
These various natural remedies for colic have shown to be effective. Not all the remedies work all the time for all colicky babies, so a parent may need to use different remedies at different times.
If these remedies don’t seem to work for your baby or if you think your baby is crying because he or she is in pain or sick, consult with your infant’s doctor or health care provider.
There is no need to be concerned if your baby is classified as colic. If these natural remedies don’t work for your baby, at least you know that your infant will grow out of colic in two to three months.