Doctors are still not sure what causes colic in newborn babies. If you’re a parent urgently seeking a cure for your baby’s pain and discomfort, you may not want to hear that it’s “nothing to worry about” and “will probably go away in a few months”! However don’t pressure your doctor into prescribing a medication that may not work. You might want to find out more about this disorder and some alternative ways of dealing with it.
What is Colic? And What Are The Causes?
Colic has been defined as crying for long periods of time without any apparent reason. Often the “Rule of Three” is used to diagnose colic. This rule states “A baby that cries for three or more hours per day, at least three times per week and within a three month period” must have colic. This disregards the fact that there are other reasons that babies cry, however pediatricians still use this for their diagnosis.
If you suspect that your baby has colic, observe his behavior. If he raises his legs and appears to go into a spasm then it’s a good indicator of abdominal discomfort and you can be pretty sure that colic is the cause.
Colic may be caused by excess wind in the stomach, swallowing excess air during feeding, an intolerance to cow’s milk, an immature digestive system or acid reflux. Acid reflux in babies has recently been proven to be a major cause of colic. Reflux means stomach acid and undigested milk flows back into the esophagus.
What Can You Do for a Baby with Acid Reflux?
There are a few ways of treating acid reflux naturally. There are specially designed beds which elevate the baby’s head slightly making it harder for stomach acid or undigested milk to flow back up into the esophagus. These beds can also have a rocking motion which settle baby down faster.
Place baby on your lap facing down. The pressure can help ease the pain. Using a warm hot water bottle on his abdomen or trying a gentle abdominal massage can help as well.
Motion can ease the discomfort and help baby relax. Rocking your baby or carrying him around with you in a baby sling during the day will comfort and distract him.
Gripe water has been around for about 100 years and is thought of as one of the oldest colic home remedies. If you want to try gripe water, make sure that it contains no alcohol or sugar, although most brands have now removed these two ingredients. Gripe water is useful mainly for treating excess wind so may not be suitable for acid reflux in a newborn baby.
Bottle fed babies seem to suffer more colic than breast fed babies. This may be due to baby’s immature digestive system or he may have an intolerance to cow’s milk. In any case breast milk is more easily tolerated than formula so, if possible, try breast feeding to see if the situation improves.
So as you can see colic describes a group of possible complaints. Obviously it’s vital to get your baby some help, but it’s also important not to just give him medication which may not help his particular type of colic. Whatever the cause, a natural homeopathic remedy is a much more gently way to soothe colic. Herbs such as chamomile can soothe colic safely and effectively without any side effects.
Wendy Owen (HH Dip) is a holistic health therapist and sleep researcher with an extensive knowledge in homeopathic and herbal remedies.