New moms are extremely resourceful, because they have to be. It’s why moms lean so heavily on each other for information and support.
Many moms nowadays are looking to natural infant care to complement traditional medicine.
There are many different reasons for this. One we sometimes hear from our patients is that they would prefer non-pharmaceutical strategies to help their babies and their symptoms.
Colic is one of those afflictions where parents are often presented with pharmaceuticals by their medical doctor. As a result, we have many parents turn to us for help finding alternatives to this recommendation.
One of these strategies includes finding out the reason WHY the baby is colicky.
Where does colic come from? Is a crying baby necessarily colicky? And what can you do about it?
Keep reading to find out more.
What Is Colic?
Everybody knows babies cry when they’re upset. Whether they’re cold, hungry, need their diaper changed, or just need some attention, babies cry. It’s what they do.
Colic is the name given to an infant who cries despite there being no obvious reason.
Sometimes, usually in the first few months of life, a baby will cry furiously, despite being well taken care of.
Some people think that it can be a response to the unfamiliarity and overly-stimulating “outside” world. Often, they grow out of it as they acclimatize to life outside the womb.
However, there is no real evidence to measure this effect.
Is A Crying Baby Necessarily Colicky?
Not necessarily. It could be that they need a visit to the doctor to establish if there’s an internal issue. This could be a blockage, an internal injury, or another issue that isn’t readily observable.
However, if your doctor runs tests and can’t find anything wrong, they may diagnose colic.
But just because they are crying without obvious reason doesn’t mean there isn’t something to cry about.
It could be that they are experiencing acid reflux (GERD), or gas that refuses to pass, making them feel bloated and exerting painful pressure on their little bodies.
Symptoms Of Infant Colic
A baby who is colicky is one who will cry loudly, ferociously, and often for quite some time.
Bouts of crying often happen in the latter half of the day and evening.
Infants with colic will cry so hard their faces may get red and flushed. They may also ball their hands into fists that shake as they exert themselves.
As well, their bodies can go quite rigid, with a tense stomach, and often their legs will be fully extended and locked straight.
What Causes Colic?
Because colic is the absence of recognizable symptoms, it’s hard to say what causes colic.
It’s likely discomfort or pain in the gastro-intestinal system. But since your infant can’t describe it or tell you, they cry instead.
Don’t panic though: colic usually only lasts a few weeks, so you won’t have to deal with this forever.
Stay focused on finding out what the triggers are, trying different treatment options, take note of what works, and build a plan around that.
Natural Solutions For Colic
To help you out, since you may be reading this at 2am after hours of dealing with such a situation, we’ve put together some things you can do.
Some of these are quick solutions, and some are long-term, but knowing about them can help you understand what might be the problem.
1. An Elimination Diet
Moms who breastfeed are well aware that what they eat ends up in their breast milk.
That’s true for the coffee you finally caved and ordered, but also the milk in that extra-hot, no-foam latte.
Lactose intolerance is fairly common in infants, which means every time you cut another slice of brie, baby is more likely to feel it later.
By starting an elimination diet, you can cut out all possible allergens. From there, you can slowly reintroduce them to figure out which one is causing the problem.
Some new moms discover they need to go dairy-free for the duration. This may be a drag if you’re a cheese lover, but it’s worth the extra sleep and reduced stress.
One warning about this solution: make sure you speak to your naturopathic doctor before starting. Altering your diet and caloric intake as a breastfeeding mom can be problematic without the proper guidance.
As well, your infant depends on the nutrients delivered through your diet, so you need to make sure you’re eating a well-balanced diet.
2. Hold Them Upright After You Feed Them
Holding babies upright in general seems to be favourable, but this is especially important after a feeding.
During feeding, babies tend to swallow less air if they’re upright versus lying down. However, this position while feeding can be difficult to manage.
After they finish, hold them upright and help them burp. The easiest way to do this is usually by holding them against your chest with their chin on your shoulder.
Rubbing their back in a gentle motion with the occasional gentle tap will help to release the gas from their tummies.
They may need more than one burp, so if your baby is prone to colic, keep going until you’re sure they’re done.
3. Use A White Noise Machine
White noise machines are great for infants and adults alike, especially when it comes time to fall asleep.
However, for babies, a white noise machine can produce sounds that mimic what they heard inside the womb. This includes waves, which sound like the muffled noise from outside, and mama’s heartbeat.
For an immediate solution, you can always ‘shush’ into your baby’s ear gently, in a rhythmic fashion. This mimics the sound of your heart pumping blood through your body, which baby would have heard.
There are some great YouTube videos for white noise as well. Take a look at this one below – it’s 10 hours straight of white noise.
Peep the comments while you’re at it. There are loads of parents chatting with each other while they’re awake at 3 am because they can’t fall asleep and they can’t close the video.
Maybe you’ll join in on their chat?
4. Try A Different Formula
If you’re using formula to feed your infant, then the problem could be the brand and its ingredients.
Try picking up a lactose-free formula, an elemental formula, or one with a different protein source.
Keep in mind that it will take at least two days to notice a change, so you’ll have to have patience to determine success for this remedy.
Another formula trick is to add a little bit of cereal to thicken the formula. This can prevent acid reflux. However you may then need a nipple with a larger hole for the thicker liquid.
Take note that this tip comes with a caveat: speak to your doctor first.
Giving infants cereal too early can cause them to get full too fast and not get enough of the nutrients in the formula that they need to grow.
There will be a delicate balance, and your doctor should first check out your child to ensure they’re healthy enough to proceed with this option.
5. Hold Them Close
Babies love to be held, for the most part. They’re almost always happier when snuggled in someone’s arms than when they’re left alone.
It’s part of how they become socialized, develop emotions and learn.
However, some babies are born with a natural separation anxiety. This means if you put them down, they get uncomfortable with being alone.
If your baby is being particularly colicky, try holding them to stop the crying.
As well, anecdotal reports suggest that spending more time holding a baby in the early part of the day can help them be more settled at night.
Contact Annex Naturopathic
We know that being a new mom is a trying, exhausting, wonderful affair that can bring unusual challenges such as colic.
Call now to book a consultation with Annex Naturopathic to discuss your diet, how it’s affecting your infant, and how we can help.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck, ND, and Tanya Lee, ND