When a baby cries for more than three hours a day, she is considered to be suffering with colic. Though nearly 40 percent of babies suffer with this condition, the real cause is unknown. Traditionally, colic has been linked to babies’ immature digestive systems. In fact, the word colic comes from the Greek word meaning ”intestines.“ Colic usually begins at around two weeks of age and, for most babies, resolves itself by three or four months of age.
- Crying for hours at a time over several weeks, usually in the evening
- Gas and bloating
- May pump legs toward abdomen and arch back
- Indigestion from foods eaten by the nursing mother—especially cruciferous vegetables, legumes, dairy products, and caffeine—or caused by swallowing air through crying or bottle-feeding
- Allergy to cow’s milk, eggs, soy, wheat, and dairy products in general
- Overstimulation or anxiety
- Cold weather
- Reaction to immunizations
- If breast-feeding, observe your own diet and how certain foods affect your baby. Consuming alcohol, dairy, gluten, and caffeine can cause a reaction.
- Reduce digestive-system stress. Do not overfeed or underfeed—watch for signs, such as spitting up or continuing to suck after feeding. If you are bottle-feeding, check the size of the nipple to ensure an even flow.
- Avoid cold and frozen food and drinks.
- Practice acupoint and massage on your baby daily.
- Make time for skin-to-skin and physical contact every day.
Colic: Suggestions for Care
Eliminate extra stress. Keep lights, music, activity, and voices as calm as possible. Give your baby relaxing warm baths and massages. If you are bottle-feeding, hold her bottle upright to prevent her from breathing air as she drinks. Space out your baby’s feedings so that her digestive system gets a rest, and she does not get too full. Burp your baby often, and try tummy time to release gas.
Most babies like to be held and rocked—try sitting on a yoga ball and holding her while you bounce. Try taking a walk using a baby carrier, a sling, or a wrap. Experiment until you find what works, and use the same techniques consistently. Colic is common, and it does go away eventually.
Food and Remedies for Nursing Mother or Baby Older than Six Months
Since colic usually appears when babies are not yet eating solid food, the following food recommendations are for nursing mothers. If your baby is formula-fed, you may experiment with a different brand to see if that relieves her colic.
- Hara-maki (belly warmer)
- Ginger compress or warm water bottle on abdomen and mid and lower back
Foods to Emphasize
Simple alkaline-producing foods that contain minerals, such as sea vegetables, fermented foods, and probiotic booster. Also, emphasize yogurt or kefir, both of which have enzymes to aid digestion. Eat primarily cooked foods for predigestion benefits. Remedies for a nursing mother include a small amount of umeboshi plum or plum vinegar as a condiment or seasoning, kuzu, and fennel or chamomile herbal tea.
Foods to Avoid
Allergy-producing foods, such as soy, dairy (especially cow’s milk), and wheat. Stay away from gas-producing foods, such as cruciferous vegetables, beans, tomatoes, garlic, onions, citrus, caffeine, chocolate, cucumbers, peppers, raw berries, bananas, melons, and dairy.
Essential Oils for Baby
Acupoints for Baby
- Stomach 36
- Gallbladder 20
- Conception Vessel 12
Reiki for Baby
For two or more minutes, place your hands on the following parts of your child’s body: abdomen and lower back.
Massage for Baby
- Massage your baby’s abdomen clockwise (when you are facing your baby) with light pressure.
- Massage the back of the tailbone, lower back, and both sides of the spine.
- Calm your baby and her digestive tract with general, light-pressure strokes on her body, head, arms, and legs.
- Help your baby do bicycle exercises or the plow yoga pose.
Life with a colicky infant can be extremely challenging. People who care for your child, including you, need to be mindful of their own emotions and frustration level. The most serious concern with colic is that the baby’s caregiver may become frustrated by the nonstop crying and physically harm the baby—usually by shaking her. Do not underestimate this danger or believe that it could not happen to you.
During these weeks of colic, be sure your baby’s primary caregiver has plenty of support and scheduled breaks away. If you leave your colicky baby in the care of others, give them a backup person to call.
Note: The suggestions and ideas in this article are not intended to take the place of professional guidance or treatment; they are meant to complement the advice of your child’s health care provider, caretakers, and educators, while offering consolidated information to help you develop your intuition and make choices that fit with your own personal, religious, or spiritual philosophies. There is no guarantee as to the effects of the use of the recommendations and no liabilities can be taken.