I came across the word Colic in 2015 when I first had my firstborn. Mama, what drove me to search engines wasn’t fun but lack of sleep. I wanted to know why my baby was crying for long hours, even when he was full. I wanted to know why he could wake up in the middle of sleep with screens. And so, my discovery journey began.
I made an appointment with my pediatrician. She was very nice. She gave me some hope but of course, with the usual prescription. Change diapers regularly, feed your baby frequently, avoid being anxious, and many more.
I was grateful but not satisfied. I had done all these things religiously as a first-time mom, but still, there was something more. And, this is what prompted me to research Colic.
Mama, all babies cry, but colicky babies cry more . Research estimates that one in every five infants suffers from infantile colic.
A considerable number, right?
What worries most is that majority of first-time moms are not aware of how to cope with a colicky baby. For this reason, they may end up in postpartum depression, early cessation of breastfeeding, or guilt due to helplessness or anger.
Colic is a condition that may affect babies between two weeks and four months. Its characterized by the painful crying of a baby for long hours. The baby can continuously cry for three hours a day or more.
The colic episodes may happen three or more times a week and persist for at least three weeks. Medics and researchers cannot ascertain what causes colic but speculate that it may happen as a result of:
- A developing digestive system
- Trapped gas in the tummy
- Good and harmful bacteria imbalance in the digestive tract
- Underfeeding or overfeeding
- An early form of childhood migraines
- Food intolerance
- stress and anxiety
Symptoms of Colic in Newborns
Symptoms differ with babies. But, you may notice this trend in almost all colicky babies.
- Long hours of Intensive crying: your infant will cry intensively without any reason. I mean, he is not hungry, not sleepy or tired, the diaper is not wet, and so forth.
- Coiling and changing posture as though in a lot of pain. You may notice clenched fists, curled legs, or stiff arms.
- Abrupt Sleep interruptions. Your baby may experience sleep interruptions, followed by prolonged crying.
- Passing gas when crying
Home Remedies for Infantile Colic
I have introduced you to my story with colic, but I haven’t told you how I dealt with it. My saving grace came when Jane, my sister in law came visiting. I did mention our struggles, and how we slept in shifts with my hubby to care for our Chiquita. She then offered to help, and for the first time since birth, my baby slept for three hours!
So, what did she do that I wasn’t doing?
Nothing magical, only the obvious ones consistently. Here is a combination of home remedies for infant colic that I learned, applied, and found beneficial.
1. Burp Your Baby After Feeding
Intestinal gas is among the top causes of Colic in infants. While it’s a normal part of digestion, when left to accumulate without a proper expelling mechanism can cause discomfort and pain.
Often, babies become gassy due to the following;
- Gulping gasses during feeding. As they breastfeed or bottle-feed, air finds its way into their stomach, forming tiny bulbs that pressure the tummy, resulting in pain.
- Indigestion- Sometimes, food is not entirely digested in the small intestines. What remains undigested may ferment in the colon with the help of bacteria and fungus as part of digestion. This process results in methane and hydrogen, which are later expelled as flatus.
- Allergen reaction– Other causes of gas build-up in babies include allergen reactions. This occurs due to the inability of their developing digestive system to tolerate certain types of food like dairy products.
- Too much air in baby’s formula. After adding water to the formula, shaking vigorously adds lots of air to the liquid, leading to excess gas. Instead, try premixed formula, or let the bottle settle before feeding your baby.
If the gas piles in the gastrointestinal tract can cause bloating and discomfort. And, that is why burping becomes essential for the baby.
Burping helps to expel excess air, relieving your baby of pain. Regularly bump your baby after feeding following these steps;
- Place your baby on your shoulder after feeding and gently pat him on the back with your other hand. Be sure to support his head, especially when they are below a month.
- Sit your baby on your lap. Support your infant’s chest and head with one hand by cradling their chin in the palm of your hand and resting the heel of your hand on your baby’s chest. Use the other hand to pat your baby’s back gently.
- Lay your newborn face-down on your lap. Support your baby’s head, making sure it’s higher than their chest, and gently pat or rub your baby’s back.
- Moving their legs in a circle- Lay your baby flat on their back. Lift their legs with their knees bent, then move the legs in a bicycling motion to help the baby relieve trapped gas.
Sometimes your baby may not burp immediately. If it happens, try changing the position until he burps. As a rule of thumb, always ensure that your baby bumps after feeding, then keep him in an upright position for at least 10 minutes to avoid spitting up.
2. Lay the Baby On Tummy
Tummy times are a very effective method of calming a fussy baby. However, you should only do it after the umbilical code is healed and under supervision.
When your baby starts crying, or you notice discomfort signs, gently lay him on his tummy. You can do this across your lap, a bed, or a baby mat.
Be sure to raise his head slightly than the rest of the body using a folded baby shawl or a pillow. Massage their back in a circular motion with your palm.
This position exerts pressure on the tummy, helping them pass on excess gas that could be causing discomfort. It’s also soothing and may aid in strengthening neck and shoulder muscles.
3. Massaging Their Tummy with Essential Oil
Tummy massage is a gentle, non-invasive treatment that may help a colicky baby to relax. Sometimes is done as a mechanism to help with constipation and bloating.
One study suggests that abdominal massage can aid in constipation and help improve quality of life.
Some women have also stated that incorporating essential oils and carrier oils such as pure coconut oil into your massage treatment may enhance the benefits.
How do you tummy massage your baby?
Before you start, always try to imagine the intestinal location on his tummy. Move your fingers in a clockwise direction, or better still, move everything towards your baby’s left side.
To perform abdominal massage on your baby
- Lie the baby flat on the back with his belly exposed.
- Warm your hands by rubbing them together for about 30 seconds.
- Apply some massage oils. I prefer Pure coconut because it’s light on my baby’s skin. Sometimes petroleum jelly can do.
- Use your fingers to massage around the navel in a clockwise direction. Think of invited L shape.
- Use your palm to massage the entire stomach in a clockwise direction. You may repeat this several times.
- Overlap your hands slightly below the navel. Gently massage outwards to the sides, moving away from the code. Ensure you stretch and squeeze the tummy.
- Move the baby’s legs in a bicycling motion.
- You can spend time on specific points where you feel like they need extra attention.
- Do this for up to 10 minutes. You may also incorporate massage time as your daily routine therapy for effectiveness.
4. Ensure Your Baby Latches Properly
Proper latching during breastfeeding ensures that your baby does not gulp air while suckling. Intake of air can cause stomach discomfort, especially if this air gets trapped in the gastrointestinal tract.
Here are steps to ensure proper latching;
- use your nipple to tickle your baby’s mouth. This will help him to open it widely.
- Aim your nipple above your baby’s top lip while moving the lower lip away from the nipple’s base. This ensures that the breast fills the baby’s mouth, leaving no room for gas entry.
When you’re bottle-feeding, hold your baby in a slanting position, which raises the head slightly. Adjust the bottles’ angle so that the baby doesn’t take in air bubbles.
Also, ensure that you’re using the correct bottle nipple in regard to your baby’s age. This is because bottle nipples have different sizes. And this size determines the amount of liquid that flows out.
Too wide nipples may have a faster flow of milk or formulae for your little one. This can make your baby gulp, sputter, and swallow a lot of air in the process.
Consequently, a small nipped bottle may be too slow for your baby. It may cause him to suck too hard to get the milk out faster, thus swallowing a lot of air.
It’s thus crucial that you choose an age-appropriate nipple to limit the amount of air swallowed during feedings.
5. Fore milk and Hind milk Balance
Fore milk is the milk available when your baby starts feeding. It’s usually watery with lower fat content. As the baby continues to breastfeed, you’ll realize that the milk transitions to thick and creamy. This is what is called hind milk.
Hind milk consists of high-fat content hence more calories and denser than fore milk.
A study conducted by Science direct suggested that too much hind milk can cause infants’ stomach and gastrointestinal pain, resulting in colic-like symptoms. However, a recent study has shown that fat content in breast milk is not directly related to feeding frequencies.
Some symptoms that have emanated fear in parents that their infant is getting too much fore milk as opposed to hind milk include:
- gassing and fussiness
- coiling and prolonged crying
- greenish loose bowel movements
- Abnormal frequent breastfeeding with tension
To be on the safe side, it’s a good practice to allow your baby to breastfeed long enough on one breast before changing. This ensures that he gets a good balance of fore and hind milk. Continuously breastfeed on demand.
6. Check On Your Diet
While it is debatable whether what you eat is directly related to breast milk composition, your diet affects your breast milk.
According to Lydian, a certified midwife at Komorock Hill Hospital, some new mothers had expressed concerns with some food. Most of them confirm that when they consumed foods known to cause gas, like beans, the rate of gassing in their babies increased.
Try to limit foods known to cause gas, like beans, cabbage, garlic, and broccoli. Also, a high intake of dairy products such as cow’s milk can stare colic. Avoid caffeine, smoking, and alcohol during breastfeeding.
As a rule of thumb, if you suspect that your baby’s crying becomes worse after breastfeeding, try to keep a record of what you eat and how your baby acts. It may surprise you that they correlate.
7. Over-the-Counter Gas Drops
According to the mayo clinic, over-the-counter gas drops that contain simethicone could help with Colic.
The clinic notes that most Over-the-counter gas drops usually contain simethicone. This is an anti-foaming agent that can relieve painful symptoms associated with having too much intestinal gas.
According to Dr. Joana Bett, a pediatrician in Agupe Teaching and Referral Hospital, Simethicone is generally a safe medication for babies.
However, you need to monitor his reaction, and if it makes your baby feel better, you may consider continuing with the dosage. A dose for simethicone is typical 20milligarms, but you should consult with your health care provider before administering.
8. Use Probiotics to Keep Colic at Bay
A study by Science daily suggests that some types of probiotics can help to treat Colic in infants. This is true, especially where the leading cause of discomfort is the imbalance of gut bacteria.
Babies are born with good and bad bacteria in the gut. If the harmful bacteria are too many, they can cause food intolerance leading to indigestion.
This may result in bloating, gas, or abdominal pain. Its thus, proper that you strike a good balance between these bacteria. And you can do these by use of probiotics.
The Science Daily Research sites out that probiotics have been used to treat infant colic with varying success. In a trial, researchers found out that drops containing a particular probiotic strain (Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12) effectively managed colic symptoms. In most babies, sleep duration increased while decreasing the rate of crying by 50%- 80%.
There has been other research indicating that probiotics could ease baby colic. Unfortunately, other studies have shown mixed results.
Consequently, some medics do not recommend prolonged probiotics in infants. You should, thus, consult your pediatricians before buying.
9. Learn Some Basics of Reflexology
Mayo Clinic defines reflexology as applying pressure to areas on the feet (or the hands that correspond to organs and systems of the body. Reflexology aims to bring relaxation to the correspondent body parts.
Recent studies have yielded positive results when it comes to using this technique to ease Colic in infants.
Research by the National Library of Medicine suggests that reflexology reduced infantile colic symptoms by 57%. Most parents reported that the treatment reduced restlessness, fussiness, irregular bowel movements, and increased sleep duration.
In case you would love to learn some basics, here is a video from a certified reflexologist.
10. Some Outdoor Relaxation Can Help
Sometimes holding your baby while walking around can bring a tremendous soothing remedy, especially when they are anxious.
Using baby wrappers and carriers can go a long way in helping you hold your baby while still performing your other duties.
You should incorporate repetitive motions using baby swings. You may also choose to go the African way by doing a back tie using leso, which has proven to be a very effective method of putting stubborn babies to sleep.
Also, consider taking an outdoor walk to change the environment. You can use a stroller or trap him in a car seat for a ride. This will help distract him from a familiar environment and calm him down due to refreshment and improved mood.
Colic can be a challenge, especially for first-time mothers. The fussiness, prolonged crying, and lack of sleep can throw a family into chaos. Hold on, mama, these symptoms will slowly disappear as your baby grows. Try out some of these mechanisms to find out what works for you, who knows, you might get some sleep today.
Meanwhile, let me know whether you’ve encountered colic and what worked for you in the comment below as you continue to enjoy your motherhood call.
DISCLAIMER The information contained in this post is for general information purposes only. I'm not a health practitioner and as such, this information should not be used as a substitute for consultation with your professional service provider.