How to Deal with Colic in Infants (and still get some sleep!)
Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD
Effective remedies to relieve your baby and
get the most sleep are important.
Colic in infants has no official
cause although often linked to cramps, gas and reflux.
But the discomfort is real. So let's have a look at what is what and
what you can do.
What exactly is colic in infants?
There is some confusion out there as to what it is
Researchers define colic as pure excessive crying, using Wessel's rule
threes (crying for more than 3h/day, 3 or more days/week, for more than
3 weeks in a row).
in newborn infants for more details on this.
In real life, this is a too strict definition and parents speak of it much earlier.
Many parents even specifically talk about colic when they suspect
because of a digestive issue, cramps or gas.
Others call the crying due to pain from reflux,
colic as well.
Some see it as nothing but getting
the day's tensions out of the way (stress).
In summary the every-day parent definition is a combination of
when a young child between 3 weeks and 3-4 months old cries for
a prolonged time,
typically in late afternoon and early night, for no
It often concurs with discomfort from stress,
tummy aches, gas or acid reflux.
Almost all babies easily grow out of this by the age of 3 or 4 months
old. The chance of having a colicky infant is lower when breastfeeding.
Baby Colic Remedies - Checklist
What to do
if your little one, between 3 weeks and 3-4 months old, cries a lot in the
evenings? Go through this list of 4:
Check the reflux symptoms guide. If your child has reflux, that should
be relieved and treated before anything else. The serious version, GERD, must be
diagnosed and treated by your doctor.
Otherwise, and as a complement to medication,
use the reflux relief tips.
Soothe and comfort. Soothing a crying baby is our natural instinct
but these days many of us are afraid of spoiling. But you needn't worry
about that, research shows that a child can not be spoiled before the age of
8-12 months old.
Try and combine any or several of the following to lovingly soothe your
- Hold, rock, walk about, sing all the lullabies you
- Carrying often in a sling
or carrier has proven time and again to relieve colic
discomfort drastically. Baby wearing
reduces stress and that honestly is as good as a miracle solution to
- Make a plain old "shhhhh" sound, or let your phone do it for you with an app like the Shusher iPhone app as in
in this mom's review.
- A boring white
noise sound can also be very efficient.
- Holding her on
her tummy on your arm as in the picture is a position that
helps relieve many babies.
Tummy position helps soothe but remember that on the back is the only
safe sleeping position to leave your baby alone in.
- Holding your little one high
on your shoulder - while she's looking behind
your back is
also a helpful position to try.
- Many babies find it comforting if you gently stroke their
forehead and one or two temples
(sides of the head at the height of the eyes).
If you suspect cramps or gas: visit the gas page. Mainly work with diet adjustments and feeding
positions. These are simple but surprisingly effective.
is often used to try and soothe soothe all kinds of causes of colic in
Gripe water is a traditional natural remedy, first used in England in
the 19th century. It's always consisted of natural ingredients, herbs
and plant extracts but has evolved and changed a lot over the years.
This is a hit-or-miss
type of remedy: some parents rave about how wonderfully
it helps with calming. Others see no effect at all.
is an FDA approved homeopathic type of gripe water. It
contains chamomile, fennel, caraway, ginger, peppermint, lemon balm,
aloe, blackthorn and vegetable carbon.
In all, relieving colic in infants is all about reducing
much as possible.
But realize, sometimes there is really no cause, and no easy relief.
Your baby is having a
difficult time right now. And the single best remedy is YOU: just being there,
reassuring her (and not thinking she's playing you) is the very best you can do.
keep your own sanity, make sure you're not alone.
Ask your partner, a
friend or family member to help you out. Taking just a 30 minute break,
where you can just take a few moments to breathe, knowing someone is
looking after your colicky baby, can make all the difference.
me here if you'd like support.
incidence and associated risk factors: a cohort study J Pediatr (Rio J). 2003 Mar-Apr;79(2):115-22.