Baby colic is one of those things that you wished did not exist. Your little one has been fed, has a clean diaper and has slept well but s/he’s still crying inconsolably, making you feel hopeless and upset; you know s/he’s in pain so you are crying with her/him.
Sometimes it lasts for so long just want to leave the room, lock yourself up and put the pillow on your head. Do you know this feeling?
Then I’m glad you found this post! Today I’m going to share some useful tips on baby colic natural remedies and other ways of ending this nightmare.
What are the symptoms of a colicky baby?
It’s not always easy to determine if your baby actually has a colic or there’s something else bothering him.
On many websites they claim that you have a colicky baby if s/he’s crying for about 3 hours, at least 3 days a week (usually in the evenings) for 3 continuing weeks.
However, this is obviously not a rule- as you know, all babies are different. Your baby might still have a colic if s/he’s crying ‘only’ for an hour in the afternoons, most of the days of the week and on a regular basis.
Another signs indicating colic are: clenching fists, arching back and cringing back from touch.
It usually starts when your newborn is 2- 3 months old and can last until 3-4 months old of age (but might as well extend to 6 months).
Why does this happen?
The doctors are not sure what causes baby colic. There are assumptions that it happens due to undeveloped digestive system that leads to gas or/and acid reflux, which in turn causes the pain.
Other opinions claim colic could be an effect of an immature neurological system. Some babies might be born with higher irritability to the world outside the womb so they often get overstimulated.
Again, these are only speculations as none of the claims were thoroughly researched or tested.
How can you soothe your baby naturally?
1. Change your diet
If you’re breastfeeding, you may want to consider cutting out some foods from your diet that can trigger your baby’s colic. These include dairy products (mainly milk and yogurt), wheat, eggs, citrus, spicy foods and caffeine (not fun, I know!). You should stop having those allergens for at least 2-3 weeks to make sure they’re gone from your body and milk.
2. Change formula
If your baby is formula-fed, some ingredient in it might be causing an allergic reaction or intolerance. Since cows milk is often a trigger, try a different formula, based on goats milk (babies tend to digested it better than other alternatives).
You should see the improvement within 2 days of changing the formula. If nothing has changed, you can exclude the allergy.
3. Talk to a lactation consultant
You should definitely meet up with a lactation consultant at least once during your breastfeeding journey. Your baby might have a bad latch or a tongue-tied (or some other issue) that led to the colic.
A certified lactation consultant will check your breastfeeding technique, give you plenty of good advice and will answer any questions you may have.
4. Lay your baby on the tummy
Tummy time is not only good for strengthening your little one’s muscles but it’s also a good way to ease the colic symptoms. You can try putting your baby on his tummy on the bed, your lap or even across your own belly. This change of position should help relieve the pain and release the gas.
You can also try to massage your little one- simply rub her chest, tummy, arms, legs and back (while lying down) using essential oils such a coconut oil. If you do it often, s/he will soon associate it with a relaxation time and should calm herself down quicker.
5. Do baby exercise
Certain baby body ‘work out’ can really reduce the pain by releasing trapped gas (which is essentially one of the reasons for baby colic). Two good exercises are bicycle legs and bent legs (holding your baby’s legs up to his chest for a couple of minutes).
What you might also want to try is visiting a specialised infant chiropractor. It’s often a case that during birth baby’s body gets out of the proper position affecting everyday activities such as sleeping, digestion and bowel movements. Chiropractor should be able to ‘adjust’ your baby’s body so that your little one could stop having pains.
6. Carry your baby
Imagine spending 9 months in a dark but warm and cosy place until suddenly, someone took you out of there (well, we’ve actually all been there but who remembers it now?).
To help our babies feel safe again, we have to mimic our womb environment and that’s why carrying your little one can be so beneficial. You will not only help to relief the colic pain but you’ll also create a closeness with your baby.
The best solution for ‘long-term’ carrying will be buying a baby sling for your newborn or a baby carrier for a slightly bigger baby. This was actually one of the things that helped my daughter (and me) pass through this difficult colic times.
**Other ways you could create this kind of closeness and secure environment is to swaddle your baby (plus it will prevent your little one from scratching). You may need a swaddling blanket for that.
Co-sleeping is also beneficial for your baby and will give you both comfort for the night feeds.
7. Use a warm compress
Putting something warm on your little one’s tummy can reduce the pain and soothe him down. You can either use a classic rubber hot water bottler or pain relief heating pad that you can warm up in a microwave. A warm cloth should do the job as well.
Alternatively, prepare a warm bath. We all know how warm baths can ease our pain (both physical and emotional) – the same applies to babies. Creating a peaceful ‘bath time’ environment can calm your baby down and draw the attention away from the colic.
8. Hold your baby upright after feeding
If your newborn has an acid reflux, it may aggravate the colic symptoms. That’s why holding him upright until s/he ‘burps’ is important and can make your little one less fussy later on in the day. You can pat your baby’s back to speed up the burping process.
9. Try using the white noise
Whether it’s a white noise app or a white noise sound machine, you should definitely try it when your baby has her crying episode. Although it did not work on my daughter (sadly), I know many mums who swear by it. They said those soothing sounds worked magic on their babies.
If you’ve noticed your baby is calm and soothes herself when you’re hoovering or drying your hair- use that noise every time she gets her crying episodes.
10. Let your baby suck
If you’re breastfeeding, do it on demand- newborns’ sucking reflux is very strong and it needs to be satisfied. If you don’t breastfeed, offer your baby a dummy. They’re a good self- soothing option as well.
You could also try switching to a bottle that limits the air your baby takes in during feeding.
11. Create repetitive movement
Sometimes all you need to do is to create a motion to stop the colic. Head out for a walk (some fresh air is always a good idea) and rock your baby in a pram, take him for a drive (many babies stop crying instantly once you start driving the car) or get yourself a baby swing.
Exercise ball might help as well. I used my birthing ball to help my baby girl with her tummy aches- it really did wonders!
If nothing helps what medications are safe to use?
Sometimes it feels like none of the tips mentioned above help, or they do in a barely noticeable way. Since there is a common belief that colic comes from undeveloped baby’s digestive system (causing gas, acid reflux etc), there are many safe treatments available. Some of them include:
- Baby probiotics– it is recommended to use them even if your little one doesn’t have colic. It’s because babies need certain bacteria for their still immature digestive system to develop correctly.
- Herbal drops such as gripe water. It often contains calming chamomile or lavender but it’s not proven to be effective- some parents swear by it, some don’t see any difference (I was in the second group). Note, gripe water cannot be taken from birth and is not a regulated product so ask your GP for an opinion.
- Drink fennel tea- if you’re breastfeeding it may help with calming your baby’s digestive system (I found it very effective).
- Baby colic drops- Infacol is suitable from birth and will help to release the wind and reduce the pain.
Sometimes nothing you’re trying to do seems to help your little one and as a mother you’re going to feel terrible and overwhelmed. It’s important for you to remember that it’s not your fault your baby’s crying and you simply have to wait for the colic to pass.
Make sure you have breaks- you’ll need them in order to keep your sanity. Just as my midwife told me: when you’re alone with your crying baby, don’t be afraid to leave her in the room next door for a few minutes- nothing will happen and you’ll have some time to take deep breaths.
To get longer breaks, ask your mum, friend or a nanny to come over so you can spend some time in peace. And get your partner involved- leave him with your baby for a couple of her waking hours (after you come back he’s going to love you even more, trust me).
You could also talk to a counsellor or find a support group for mums with colicky babies- they will get you like nobody else.
And remember, it’s just a phase- it will pass soon. Your life will get easier and you will soon find much more joy watching your little one grow!
Hope you found this post useful.
Stay strong mamas!