Colic babies are the other name of terror for every parent. It’s normal for a child to cry but a colicky baby doesn’t stop crying for hours. Nothing the parents can do suffices which results in feeling helpless, anxious, and depressive. The internet is plagued with the question “what’s good for colic babies?” but there’s no definitive answer to this. The main reason for colic is yet unknown but there have been some practical researches which show that if a baby is too colicky, it can be attributed to the formula he’s taking. The correct way to handle this is to change the baby formula to a lower protein-based comfort formula. There are also other homemade formulas for colic babies which might be effective.
What is A Colic Baby?
There’s no concrete colic definition since the problem is yet an enigma to the experts. But you may ask “what is colic baby?” A baby is colicky when he suffers from pain in his gastrointestinal tract. A baby is colicky when he cries for
- 3 hours a day
- 3 days a week
- 3 weeks consecutively
The colic condition in the babies generally peaks when the baby is around the age of 4-6 weeks. This condition, fortunately, goes away when the baby reaches 6 months of age. This is a condition that’s common in 40% of children around the world. Make sure your baby is colicky and not just going through a crying spree.
Symptoms of Colic
Look for these symptoms if your baby is crying for an unusually long period of time:
- The sound of the crying is piercingly intense
- Nothing causes the crying and nothing comforts it
- The face of the baby becomes red
- The crying generally occurs in the evening every day
- The baby clenches his fist and his abdominal muscles get tensed
- The baby pulls his legs up towards his belly
- The baby arches his back during crying
- The baby doesn’t get regular sleep without any sleep remedy techniques as sleep gets interrupted by bouts of crying
- Although the baby eats the same amount as regular, the feeding process often gets interrupted with intense crying episodes
- The baby breathes a lot during the crying period
- A colic baby feels restless almost all the time. This feeling might be mild for some babies
A lot of these symptoms can be attributed to other illnesses or injuries, so make sure your baby is colic before starting any medication.
Reasons for Colic
There’s no definite answer to the question “what causes colic in babies?”. At one time, it was solely ascribed to the baby formula but later it has been discovered that breastfed babies, too, get colic. Here are some possible reasons for colic:
- The baby can’t digest the food completely or the food goes down too quickly into the digestive system
- The baby finds it overwhelming to adjust himself with the surroundings
- The baby has gastroesophageal reflux
- Colic might be a sign that the baby will develop migraine in his later years
- The colic condition might only be a reaction to acid reflux, food allergy or gastric issues
- Babies who have smoker parents are more prone to developing colic
- The baby’s sensitiveness to stimulation might trigger colic
- The infant formula isn’t suiting the baby due to its high protein content
- The feeding position of the baby is not correct, or the baby doesn’t burp after a meal
- The mother’s diet isn’t suiting the breastfeeding baby
- The baby was born with low weight or hasn’t developed his nervous system
How to Treat a Colic Baby?
Try to understand that colic is a normal condition for babies. There’s no specific cure for colic in babies but you can try to keep the crying to a minimal level with some of these treatments.
1. Make Sure It’s Not Baby Reflux
The colic condition might mimic the symptoms of baby reflux. You have to make sure the baby is not just going through reflux and then proceed on treating colic.
2. Consult a Lactation Expert
This is very important if your baby is getting breastmilk. Consult a lactation expert who is IBCLC certified. A good lactation expert can easily rule out colic if your baby has a bad latch, is lip-tied, or tongue-tied. All of these conditions show similar symptoms. He might suggest infant formulas for colic babies.
Is your baby getting hindmilk properly? Hindmilk contains more fat and calorie which helps with stomach calming and digestive problems. These issues lead to a colic baby. You can test this by examining your baby’s stool. If it’s frothy, greenish and mucousy, your baby is having too much foremilk which is the lead cause of digestive distress.
3. Mother’s Clean Diet
The mother’s diet is very important while she’s breastfeeding. She has to control some of the food intakes since they can develop colic in her baby. The foods include:
- Spicy foods
Mothers’ food guide: What to avoid Some of these foods can be pretty hard to give up but you can give it a try for your baby. It takes 2-4 weeks for the food to get completely out of the body’s system.
4. Switch Formula
If you’re still wondering what is good for colic in babies, be informed that a colic baby may be suffering from allergy or intolerance of the formula he’s having. Not every baby has the same tolerance for the ingredients used in the formulas. Change the formula by switching to a more elemental formula that has a different source for its protein content.
After changing the formula, wait for 2 days to observe any change. If switching to a new formula doesn’t work, consult the baby’s pediatrician about which formula to choose for your baby. Don’t just keep on switching one formula after another on your own.
5. Allow Enough Rest for Your Baby
Check if your baby is overtired. It’s suggested that newborns go to sleep again after 1-2 hours of a wakeful period. You can experiment with the wakeful period by increasing or limiting it and see what suits your baby best. Choose the time based on when your baby goes to sleep on his own. If he starts crying, you have to try the next time. Put him to sleep 15 minutes earlier then.
6. Hold Your Baby Upright after You Feed him
Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux works as a colic booster for babies. Babies who have these issues often get heartburn since the formula or the milk comes back again through the esophagus. If you hold the baby upright after each meal, it would reduce the acid reflux in the baby. If the baby lies or reclines just after eating, the condition will only get worse.
7. Adding Infant Cereal
In case you’re still unable to figure out a solution for your baby and asking what to use for colic babies, you can add infant cereal (ex: rice cereal) to the milk or the formula the baby’s having. This is another way to reduce acid reflux in babies. You can follow this procedure to add the cereal:
- Take 1 tsp of cereal for every 1 ounce of pumped breastmilk or formula
- Make the nipple in the bottle a bit larger, so thicker liquid can pass through
Check with the baby’s pediatrician before you add cereal to your baby’s diet. If your baby is suffering from constipation, you need to focus and act accordingly to cure constipation with the highest priority. With an upset tummy, no one can sleep well, left aside babies.
8. Lay the Baby on His Belly
But how to soothe colic baby? Make the baby lie on his belly once in a while. You can put him over your lap or stomach. The change in the baby’s position often helps in calming the colic baby. While you’re at it, rub the baby’s back. It doesn’t only have a soothing effect but it also helps the gas in the stomach to pass through. This practice will also make the baby’s shoulder and neck muscles stronger.
9. Make Some Noise
This may sound weird but making a loud noise calms the baby. This is because the baby has been in the womb longer than out of it. And the womb is a noisy place. The baby was exposed to the sound of the mother’s digestion, the heartbeat and the noise of the uterus. When the baby hears a noise, it calms him in his unfamiliar surroundings. You can use a hair dryer as a noisemaker or play a hairdryer record on your stereo until the baby calms down. Humming loudly and shushing also helps in calming a colic baby.
10. Herbal Methods
The following herbal methods will help with the digestive gas problem of the baby which has been directly linked to a baby being colic. In some cases, this works as the best thing for colic babies.
Basil leaves have sedative and antispasmodic properties and thus help with gastrointestinal issues.
- Add water to a few basil leaves
- Boil it and let it cool down
- Only give a few teaspoons of the basil tea to the baby
- You can also create a paste with the leaves. Apply the paste on the naval area of the baby, keep the paste until it dries off, and clear away using water and cloth
Fennel is a great option for relieving gastronomic problems.
- Take fennel seeds (1 teaspoon) and add hot water (1 cup) to it
- Let the mixture sit in for about 10 minutes
- Strain the mixture
- Give the strained liquid to your baby
The sedative and antispasmodic properties of chamomile help to soothe the baby during the colicky period.
- Add hot water to dried chamomile flower
- Let the mixture sit in for about 10 minutes
- Strain the mixture
- Give it to the baby once it cools down
11. Formula for Colic Babies
The formula for colic babies often proves to be effective. Incorporate one of these formulas to your baby’s regular diet for a soothing effect. Sometimes these formulas prove to be the best colic relief for babies.
Care for Parents
We’ve provided tips for colicky babies but parents get extremely exhausted when caring for their colic babies. They sulk in depression, anger, and helplessness. These are some of the tips parents can follow:
- Switch the responsibility of taking care of the baby with your partner often. You can also ask for help from a family member or friend for a few days
- Get out of your home sometimes
- When you need to calm yourself down, put the baby on the crib
- Vent out to your partner, child’s pediatrician or friends about what you’re feeling
- Don’t think of yourself as a bad parent during the colicky period. It isn’t a sign that your baby is not accepting you. It happens to us all and no one’s at fault here
- Console yourself by keeping in mind that it will take 4-6 months for your baby to get out of this situation
A colic baby is quite a challenge for the parents. Experts are still struggling to find out what is colic in babies. But since many experts have linked it to the digestive system of the baby, the problem might be in your baby’s formula or the mother’s diet. Besides changing the mother’s diet and the baby’s formula, you might also need to follow the other tips we’ve discussed in this article. Try out the formula for colic babies. Another calming method is swaddling the baby and then rocking him slowly. Don’t ever feel upset as a parent. Your baby will start smiling again once this horrible nightmare passes. Until then, you can work with our suggestions on how to handle a colic baby.