There is no known cause for colic. Many factors, however, may contribute to it. It is difficult to explain all the important aspects of the condition, such as why it varies among infants, and why it typically resolves on its own over time. It is good though to know that there are some old home remedies for colic that can be used.
Colic is a common problem in babies and, it occurs when they are still very young. It affects about 40% of infants. The good thing is that with a few tips and tricks, you can manage colic at home and get your baby feeling better in no time.
Bringing a newborn home for the first time and introducing them to the rest of the family is always a special moment. The little bundle of joy can inspire and even bring the family even closer together. Nothing is more charming than those tiny smiles and the intoxicating cuteness when they fall asleep.
Considering how vulnerable a baby is, the last thing a parent wants is to see their baby in distress, crying incessantly and clenching their fits. Often this can come about as a result of colic.
What is Colic?
One way of identifying colic is your baby has moments where they cry continuously, often for hours. Colic episodes usually occur in the evenings and there is no medical condition.
How Newborns Get Colic
While the true cause of colic is unknown, there have been certain theories put forward by pediatricians. They suggest that it could be a result of the baby not being accustomed to the environment outside of the womb which then irritates the baby. This subsequently causes them to cry continuously.
It could also be a result of the baby adjusting to breastmilk and would therefore experience acid reflux and gas.
Colic Can Be Diagnosed Using these 3 rules:
- If your baby cries for more than three hours
- Long crying episodes at least three times a week
- It goes on for at least three weeks
Contributing factors that have been considered are:
- Overeating, undereating, or infrequent burping
- A food allergy or intolerance
- An underdeveloped digestive system
- An imbalance of bacteria in the digestive tract
- Since there is no definitive cause of colic, doctors will recommend ways of calming the baby down
To identify whether your baby has colic, you can use these identifiers
- A bloated belly
An arched back
- Crying that can’t be consoled
- Expelling gas
- Pulling his legs toward his belly
- Tight fists
How Can I Help My Colic Baby Sleep?
Colic babies love to be held and soothed. After you’ve completed step 1 below, add steps 2-4 until your little one is calm. Dr. Harvey Karp, who made the Snoo, shares the following tips:
Using The 5’s
- Swaddling babies makes them feel safe, mimics the womb, and decreases reflexes.
- There is nothing like a gentle “shhhh-shhhh-shhhh” sound to soothe a fussy baby, even vacuums and hair dryers have been known to work.
- As an alternative to the traditional cradle position, hold your baby on their sides or face down, similar to the football hold you learned about in newborn class.
- By swaying your body, you are able to soothe a colic baby
- Providing oral stimulation through pacifiers or thumbs to soothe.
Naps and the Nursery
Babies who have colic should be taking about 6-8 naps a day, sleeping about 10-12 hours a night, and 5 hours during the day. You’ll be able to put your baby to sleep easier at night when they take naps during the day.
The sleeping area should be dark, with white noise, and free of hazardous materials. Instead of feeding the baby prior to the nap, use the soothing tips outlined above and follow a sleep or bedtime routine.
Evening Stimulation Should be Reduced
Babies who do not have colic usually experience the Witching Hour after 5 pm. They are overstimulated by the slightest thing, causing more upset than normal.
Dim the lights, limit your television viewing and make sure the room you are in isn’t too excited or crowded. Visitors should limit their time during this time so that the baby can be rested in the morning.
The Best Sleeping Position for a Baby With Colic
From the time they are 6-8 weeks old, we can give babies social cues that allow them to understand what’s next. For instance, bath time, a soothing massage, and a feed in their room can all signify that it is time to wind down and fall asleep.
Colicky babies prefer to sleep upright or in an elevated crib at 30 degrees. Feed your baby after naps to prevent digestive issues while he or she is sleeping.
Can Breastmilk Cause Colic?
Baby formula or breast milk will not cause a child to suffer from colic. If the child is on formula, it might not help, or it might worsen the situation. Your diet, on the other hand, can exacerbate colic in breastfed babies.
Your Diet May Worsen Colic
Even though we do not know the exact cause of colic, certain foods seem to cause colic in breastfeeding mothers’ babies. A few foods may affect breast milk and cause intestinal gas or other digestive problems, which may worsen crying episodes.
The following foods can affect a mother’s breast milk in this way:
- Fruits including, Peaches, prunes, and Melons
- Beans, Broccoli, Cabbage, Onions, and Garlic, to mention a few
- Cow’s milk.
Record what you eat and how your baby acts, especially when crying occurs or if you suspect your baby is crying more after having breast milk.
Do Colic Babies Spit Up a Lot?
If your baby has colic, they may be extra gassy or spit up more than usual because digestive issues are commonly responsible for baby colic. Sucking air during prolonged crying can also result in gas.
Old Home Remedies for Colic
1. Warm Water
It works wonders for helping soothe an irritated and colicky baby. If your baby is having tummy issues as a result of colic, you can dip a towel in warm water, then compress the towel and run the baby’s belly gently. This will help relax them and also help relieve gas.
Massaging the baby’s tummy can also help stimulate digestion and relieve stomach upset. You can try massaging the tummy using coconut or almond oil. Simply put a small amount in the palm of your hand and then rub it gently on the baby’s tummy using slow clockwise movements.
3. Initiate Tummy Time
An easy way to help soothe your baby is to turn their position. You can turn them on their tummy and place them flat on the bed or you could place them on your lap. Then gentle pressure on their tummy can help soothe the discomfort.
You can also rub the back of your baby gently as this can help relieve gas. You should only place the baby on their tummy when you are present and are monitoring the baby, Babies should never be put to sleep on their tummies.
Ideally, there should be a 30-minute gap between feedings and tummy time. You should only begin tummy time after your baby has eaten, but not immediately afterward.
4. Burp and Burp Some More
Ensure that the baby burps after eating to get rid of any gas or flatulence that might develop in their tummy and cause stomach upset. You can achieve this by placing the baby on your shoulder and gently rubbing their back.
You can also lay the baby on their back after eating for a minute or so, then pick them up gently. The baby will usually burp once they are upright.
5. Let Baby Feed Longer on Each Breast.
Make sure your baby feeds on each breast for a longer period of time rather than alternating between the breasts. Hindmilk contains less lactose, than foremilk. Hindmilk comes out after the baby has been sucking on the breast for some time. In addition to its fat content, hindmilk promotes digestion and soothes the stomach.
6. Change the Feeding Bottle
A certain type of feeding bottle allows the baby to swallow more air, whereas another type does not. Using a bottle that allows the baby to swallow as little air as possible might be beneficial for colicky babies.
The digestive system can be affected by swallowing too much air, which leads to colic
7. Watching Your Diet
Your diet can affect your baby if certain compounds find their way into the breastmilk. If you notice your baby is colicky, you may want to alter your diet and see if this in turn has a positive effect on your baby. Of course, it could also make things worse, so do this with care. This is one of the old home remedies for colic that could prove to be effective.
8. Switch to Formula
Baby’s colic could simply be an allergic reaction to a protein in the milk. You may see significant improvements if you provided your baby with a different type of milk such as formula milk.
9. Change the Formula Milk Brand
You may be able to relieve colic by switching formula brands. It is possible that some formula milk brands contain ingredients that cause colic.
Changing your baby’s formula milk can help alleviate colic if you’re giving it to him along with breastfeeding or otherwise.
10. Hold Your Baby
The ‘colic carry’ or ‘airplane hold’ can help calm your baby by placing them on their belly along your forearm. You will place a slight amount of pressure on their stomach, which may ease their discomfort
Babies who are experiencing colic want to be held close to the body. By holding your baby close to your chest, you will also be applying gentle pressure to the tummy which relieves the discomfort. This is also a great way for the baby to bond with you.
11. Hold Your baby Upright After Feeding
Holding up the baby after feeding can help keep the food in their tummy. On the other hand, laying them down could cause the food to rise back up to their esophagus, which would cause acid reflux and worsen the colic.
12. Keep the Baby in Motion
The best way for parents to help their colicky babies is to keep them moving. Colic babies like to be back in the womb. They like the warmth and the comfort that they feel and get when they are in the womb.
Cuddled up in a baby swing or cuddled up snuggly in a sling, they enjoy feeling safe and secure
You can try walking with the baby to help relieve the irritation. The constant movement will turn the baby gently which may help relieve the irritation.
13. Make Use of Infant Cereal
If your baby has GERD, they would benefit from thickened milk to be able to relieve colic. You can thicken both breast milk or formula using infant cereal. Simply add 1 tbsp. of infant cereal to 1 ounce of pumped breastmilk or formula. Consult your doctor before using this method.
14. Watching Your Diet
Your diet can affect your baby if certain compounds find their way into the breastmilk. If you notice your baby is colicky, you may want to alter your diet and see if this in turn has a positive effect on your baby. Of course, it could also make things worse, so do this with care.
15. Try Gripe Water
Some parents will give their babies gripe water. It contains certain herbs such as Fennel seed, ginger, Chamomile and Lemon balm that can help relieve colic. Make sure that the gripe water is 100% natural and that it does not contain any preservatives.
16. Cycling Exercises
This is a simple but effective exercise. Put the baby on her back. You can gently push one leg at a time toward her belly while holding her ankles together. Push each leg toward her belly for a few seconds. You can repeat the cycling exercises for a few minutes as long as the baby is comfortable
17. Tulsi Leaves
The leaves of tulsi have antispasmodic properties. Therefore, they can help relieve your infant’s digestive problems. Bring a few basil leaves to a boil in water. Cool down and then give it to your baby.
18. Fennel Seeds for Colic
Bring a cup of water to a boil and add a teaspoon of fennel seed. Strain the seeds after 10 minutes and give it to baby
19. Feed Probiotics
Taking probiotics may be helpful in treating colic, as probiotics reduce gut inflammation and inhibit E. coli, which is more prevalent in colic babies than healthy babies.
Ask your doctor if you can give your baby probiotics.
20. Mint Tea
It is safe for babies over 6 months to use mint to relieve intestinal cramps. Let a teaspoon of mint steep for 10 minutes in a cup of hot water. Your baby can be fed a few teaspoons of this tea after you strain it.
21. Ask for Help
Asking for help when the situation becomes unmanageable is always a good idea. Reach out to a parent or partner for assistance.
Find out what works for your baby and what doesn’t work. Note that all babies are different, and what could work for your friend’s baby may not necessarily work for yours. That said, the simple old home remedies for colic tips we’ve laid for you above should go a long way towards helping the baby deal with colic.