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Colic and Babies
Sometimes colic happens no matter what you do. You can do your best to prevent it and comfort your baby if it arises. Create calm and peaceful surroundings, but don’t blame yourself for your baby’s discomfort. Some babies have a fussy time in the evening no matter what is done for them. In folklore this is called the Granny Hour, meaning that a loving grandmother is needed who has nothing more urgent to do than rock and cuddle the baby. Sometimes the mother relaxing and releasing tension by taking a bath or shower can be sensed by the baby and also relax the baby. It is important to know that your breast milk is the best possible food for your baby. The warm closeness of the nursing relationship and your gentle, loving care will help ease your baby through this time. Remember the saying this too shall pass. Most babies outgrow colic by 4 months time. You won’t always be able to take away your baby’s suffering, but you can be there giving love and lending a soothing hand. Below are some suggestions that may help with a colicky baby.
- Avoid eating members of the cabbage family (broccoli, cabbage, kale, collards), turnips, garlic, onions, and spicy foods. Fried foods, peanuts, caffeine, dairy foods, eggs, beans, and wheat may also be aggravating.
Exercise the baby’s legs by “bicycling” them, together and alternately, up to the baby’s abdomen. Press the legs up to the belly (both, then individually), then extend them back out and down. Do each motion five times slowly and smoothly.
- Hold your baby closely and firmly when you nurse, but don’t fidget or distract the baby while he is eating. Nurse in quiet surroundings whenever possible to help prevent indigestion.
- Rest and eat well so you have the reserves you need to care for your baby without becoming exhausted and frazzled.
- Put your baby in a baby wrap like this Moby Wrap and go for a walk. The closeness your baby will feel with you, combined with the rocking motions of your body and the fresh air may soothe your baby and help her settle down. You can make a wrap out of stretchy material also.
- Massage and exercise your baby prior to the fussy period or at some point during it. Rub the baby’s abdomen with warm hands and a bit of oil, using circular motions in a clockwise direction. Do this for fifteen minutes slowly and gently, talking or singing to your baby as you rub. Another massage technique is to rub gently in a downward motion from beneath the ribs to the lower abdomen, using the pinkie-finger side of your hands. Alternate your hands continually so it looks like you are making a water-wheel motion on your baby’s belly. Essential Oils are amazing is amazing for any kind of upset stomach and one or two drops mixed with a carrier oil is very effective for massaging baby’s abdomens.
- Be certain to burb baby after he nurses. Some babies need to be burped in the middle of nursing, others do not burp much at all. If baby is having a problem with gas, taking time to burp your baby may be helpful.
- Holding baby like a football, head down, may help some babies calm down and ease tummy cramps. Make sure baby’s head is supported with face to the side so baby can breathe.
- Take your baby to a pediatric certified chiropractor who has experience with adjusting cranial suture lines in the head. Some fussy babies respond well to chiropractic adjustment. I have seen the change be as night and day from fussy baby to happy baby in one adjustment
- Have a knowledgeable midwife, lactation consultant, or pediatric dentist who is trained in assessing for a lip or tongue tie. This can cause the baby to be swallowing air and cause extreme discomfort. Even if one care provider has told you there is no issue, it is good to get a second opinion on this.
- Talk to a lactation consultant and assess if the baby is getting enough hind milk. Some babies need to not switch breasts every feeding but feed on one side for a feeding- or possibly for a few feedings- and then switch to the other side. This can work amazing for some babies. I recommend talking to someone from La Leche League. They are all well trained in lactation consultation and all have nursed a baby themselves. Most cities have a La Leche League chapter. If you have already tried a lactation consultant and need more help try another one. Don’t give up. I strongly recommend La Leche League.
- Some cases of colic are connected to H-pylori, a bacterial infection in the stomach. See my blog H-pylori and Colic.
- Use probiotics. You can place probiotics on your breast while nursing for the baby to suck up. You may be amazed at how well this works. I like Garden of Life Whole Food Probiotic for Women which contains Lactobacillus Reuteri which has been shown in studies to decrease colic. Mom can take it as well. (1)
- Catnip And Fennel Extract by Natures’ Sunshine. All natural ingredients and works really well.
- Bach Rescue Remedy, a flower essence combination, is a well used item in the fussy-child repertoire. Give 2 drops to the baby and 4 drops to the parent. :)
- The tummy-friendly TumEase by Mothers Choice (you can usually find this as health food stores) contains peppermint, catnip, fennel, marshmallow, oregon grape, licorice and ginger. These herbs have documented digestive functions in alleviation intestinal cramping and aiding the passage of gas. 1 to 2 drops is usually sufficient to give the baby.
- Mom may want to drink chamomile tea while nursing. You can also give the baby a dropper of this, but it is best to see if the mom drinking it will help first.
- Give pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) once daily, at the same time each day as follows: Crush a 100 mg tablet and dissolve in 4 tablespoons of water. Give baby up to 50% of this liquid by dropper.
- Crush a tablet of homeopathic Calming by the brand BHI and dissolve in 2 tablespoons of water. Give by dropper or spoon. This is one of my favorite remedies for postpartum moms and for PMS, an all around winner for when emotions are all over the place.
- Try Colic Calm a homeopathic colic treatment. http://www.coliccalm.com/index.html.
- Chamomilla: If baby is drawing legs up to chest, give 2 pellets under the tongue every 20 minutes as needed. This is also used for teething.
- Drosera: If baby is stiffening body, give 2 pellets under tongue every 20 minutes as needed.
- The correct essential oil can be amazing for any kind of upset stomach and one or two drops mixed with a carrier oil is very effective for massaging babies abdomens. I know people have strong opinions on essential oil brands. I use a variety of brands but for upset tummies and colic I recommend three brands. I use are Di-Tone/Di-Gize from Young Living, DigestZen from doTERRA and Inside Out from Butterfly Express.
- Lavender or peppermint essential oil (a couple drops in a carrier oil) can be very helpful. Never put oil directly on baby without carrier oil like olive oil or coconut oil.
This is more a compilation of what I have seen work in my midwifery practice and is by no means a complete list. Please let me know if you have others that have helped. Please keep trying different suggestions as babies are different and there are answers. I would love to help if you need more guidance.
Most of this information came from working with various midwives and families from what they have seen work. Thank you!
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