How to Relieve Colic in an Infant

Wouldn't it be great if there was a magic cure to provide relief for a colic baby? The hard truth is that no one is absolutely certain what causes colic and each baby is uniquely individual, none responding to the same technique that cures colic in another. Colic in newborns is especially frustrating because the parent is just getting to know the baby and doesn't yet have a bag of tricks to draw from, personalized for this particular little one.

What does Colic Look Like?

Colic is when an ordinarily healthy baby cries at least 3 hours a day. Approximately 25% of all babies will develop colic, typically somewhere between 3 to 6 weeks of age. Colic may be caused by infant reflux, gas, an immature nervous system, or simply a baby's inability to transition smoothly from womb to world.

Because colic can have so many different causes there are many different ways to relieve colic in an infant. Not all will work for your baby. The key is to try each technique for at least five minutes before switching to another because it can take that long for a baby to respond.

Relieve Colic in an Infant with These Tricks

  • Walk, rock, sway or bounce - carry your baby in a wrap that simulates the womb environment like a moby wrap or baby cuddler face in. Try walking around the house, swaying side to side or rocking in a chair. You can also try gentle bouncing on an exercise ball.
  • Swing - if your baby has good head control try putting him in a baby swing or hammock. Swings that have various motions like front to back and side to side are best - some babies may prefer side to side rather than front to back. Also some swing seats have deep wells that can put pressure on baby's tummy if the colic is reflux-induced. If you feel like your baby is more upset when put in carriers, bouncy seats, swings or carseats and that is not related simply to not being held in arms then consider investing in something like a carseat wedge that can also be used in swings or strollers.
  • Swaddle - often times wrapping your baby in an infant swaddle blanket reduces the "startle" reflex and stops colic. Always be sure your baby's thumbs are accesible since thumb sucking is an important self-soothing technique.
  • Sounds - various noises can stop colic. Try shooshing in your baby's ear, running the vacuum cleaner, turning on the faucet and letting the water run, listen to the clothers dryer or hair dryer, or invest in a white noise machine that can mimic womb noises.
  • We also carry the sleep sheep portable white noise device, the Happiest Baby on the Block CD of white noise, and the Infant Calm CD. which is similar to the "For Crying Out Loud" baby white noise CD.

  • Scenery change - Simply changing rooms or stepping outside can stop colic. If being outdoors helps then pack up the stroller and take a walk - exercise and a change of scenery will help your mental state as well.
  • Sucking - sometimes comfort sucking can stop colic. If your baby is not hungry you can still allow him to comfort nurse without increasing your milk supply by letting him nurse on the side you last emptied. You can also let him suck on your finger.
  • Visual - Looking into a mirror or at black and white patterns sometimes stops colic. As your baby gets older they will be very interested in things like jewelry you are wearing. We love the teething necklace made by Smart Mom. These come in fun, distracting colors and are designed to be tugged and chewed safely.
  • Gas relief - try placing your baby on his back and gently pump or bicycle his legs. Taking an anal temperature reading can also help pass gas. A tummy warmer packet may also ease gas and stop colic. If bottle feeding, Dr. Brown bottles and a feeding wedge for breast or bottle feeding will reduce the amount of air your baby takes in.
  • Read stopping baby gas for more ideas and background.

  • Homeopathic remedies for colic - many companies now market simethicone drops and gripe water to stop colic. Neither have been conclusively proven to stop colic. We have, however, read many stories in the last few years on the positive impact of herbal remedies on colic and reflux. We've published one mom's experience with herbal remedies.
  • Probiotics - studies have found that probiotics can stop colic in infants. We now carry Bio Gaia baby probiotic crops which are clinically proven to stop colic.
  • Diet Alteration - if you are breastfeeding, much colic and reflux can be significantly improved by altering your diet. See Making breastmilk even easier to digest. This article also contains some information on probiotics and enzymes.
  • Chiropractic and craniosacral manipulation - these can stop colic by correcting misalignments that affect the central nervous system or removing bowel blockages that cause constipation and gas.
  • The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD - The same instantaneous methods for stopping colic found in Dr. Karp's best selling book by the same name, this is a quick watch and life changing purchase. Over the years we've had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Karp several times and watched numerous times as he has immediately calmed inconsolable babies and changed countless lives in the process.
  • Remember that this will pass. The ultimate thing that stops colic is time and as your baby matures you will need these home remedies for colic less and less.


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    More information:

    Baby reflux or colic?
    Infant acid reflux and colic home remedies
    Alternative treatments for infant acid reflux
    Medications for infant acid reflux
    Tests for infant acid reflux

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