While there is no proven cause for colic, a parent who has a colicky baby knows the frustration of trying to calm their baby’s incessant crying and discomfort. Colicky babies are babies who cry for 3 or more hours consistently in a 24 hour period, have a distended abdomen while crying, red-faced with their bodies being tense (legs and arms stiffened and straight out for example). Parents who were colicky while infants are more prone for having a colicky baby, although there are no true known causes for colic to begin with. If you have a colicky baby (excess gas and abdominal disturbance that causes the baby to cry non-stop with discomfort) there are ways you can treat their symptoms and ease their woes.
Do not overfeed. This makes colic worse. Many parents misconstrue their baby’s cries with being hungry. Feed as normal.
Avoid feeding your baby undiluted juices or sugary drinks, as this can make their gas worse.
Try not to allow your stress to become apparent, which can make a colicky baby more distressed, causing their symptoms to increase. Avoid being loud and angry, frustrated, or having loud noises in the home with your crying baby (this is tough, since a bawling infant can be incredibly frustrating) as this will put your baby on further alert, making their condition worse. Rather, try being soothing to your poor baby, which will calm you both down.
To help your baby break down gases that are likely causing their colic, burp them after feeding, avoid overfeeding, and try giving them allergy formulas if you are formula feeding to see if the formula is the cause of their distress. Nursing mothers should avoid milk products, caffeine, broccoli, beans, cabbage, and onions, any gassy foods that are transferred in the milk.
Try walking your baby in a cocoon-like embrace in your arms in slow circles with a low, continuous noise in the background (like a running washing machine) to soothe the baby. Many parents can ease colic in their babies with motion, like a car ride, or with a humming noise in the background (some moms will turn on the vacuum with the baby in another room) or setting your baby in a carrier on the washer or dryer while running to have the motion calm the baby. Never leave an infant unattended on the washer or dryer. This works for some parents, and many swear by it.
My sister would take her colicky baby on car rides, slowly around the block with the radio on low music. She swears it worked for her baby who would soon be snoozing.
If you are breastfeeding, you can aide your nursing baby by taking herbs that ease colic when your baby consumes your milk. An herb helpful in mommy’s milk for colic is fennel, lemon balm, and chamomile. These herbs are believed to calm baby’s colic by calming the muscle spasms that cause your baby to swallow too much air that gives them gas. When your baby gets these herbs in your milk, it calms their tightened bodies, allowing them to relax and naturally expel and break down the gases that are making them cry. With doctor’s permission, you can put these herbs in your baby’s bottle as well if you are bottle feeding.
You can give your baby an herbal bath in these herbs as well to ease their symptoms if you don’t want your baby ingesting them. Keeping a pillow with lavender sprayed on it lightly underneath where your baby sleeps can calm them in the crib, again relaxing their muscle spasms and allowing their bodies to naturally calm. Be very careful not to over-indulge your baby with any essential oil scent, and keep it from where they can ingest it. You can simply have a lavender candle near the baby, as the scent will calm them, or bathe them with lavender baby shampoos and washes.
Probiotics may help your baby digest milk more easily, so for nursing moms place a probiotic powder on your nipple by rubbing olive oil on your nipple first and allow your baby to suckle. This calms many baby’s sensitive digestion systems to process mommy’s milk better. For bottle fed babies, purchase formula with probiotics to help your baby break down the milk better.
Boiling fresh mint leaves and mixing the warm broth in your baby’s bottle or by drinking fresh mint tea yourself for your nursing baby aides in your baby’s digestion and calms their upset tummy, stopping colic on the spot.
Some moms swear by rubbing warm (not hot) cooking oil on their baby’s distended bellies to stop crying immediately.
Other moms will give the catnip tea or mint tea directly to their babies in an eyedropper, one dose, to stop colic in its tracks. Another tick is to nurse the baby, and after one breast, give them a half ounce of fresh mint tea, and allow them to finish nursing for comfortable feeding. You can do this for bottle-fed babies as well.
Sometimes, even feeding your babies sitting up will help them digest more successfully and help them ease colic.
There are a number of ways you can ease your baby’s colic, and you can ask your own parents what they did with you when you cried and cried and cried some more. Odds are, they have a remedy you can try, and though they sound scary at first, you can talk to your doctor to get their opinion and approval, and try some tried-and-true remedies for your baby for a happy household for all.