Colic, the crying baby and how to help

Parents can’t wait to welcome their precious newborn into the world, it’s a magical time where we dream of endless cuddles, happiness, smiles and contentment. And then colic strikes and throws a spanner in the works. A colicky baby is very distressing for baby and parents, tensions can be high in the household, trying to figure out what helps and what makes things worse, not knowing when the crying will stop, when your baby will finally go to sleep, you run out of ways to soothe, nothing seems to work and your baby does not relax like other babies, it’s relentless, heartbreaking and you feel helpless…and then it’s feeding time again. You feel mentally and physically drained and need to resolve this. 

So what is Colic and what are the symptoms of Colic? 

  • Colic is not a medical diagnosis but a blanket term given to crying and fussy babies who can be difficult to settle, discontented, and can be hard to establish a proper routine; some appear to have sharp intermittent pains or cramps in their abdomen, where no cause for these symptoms has been found. So we don’t know what is wrong or what is causing the discomfort and upset with the colicky baby, we just know the baby isn’t happy……Yes I agree, that’s not very helpful, we want answers and solutions! 
  • A newborn baby’s organs are still growing and developing, and some are more sensitive than others to the feeding process and the foods that they are exposed to via breastfeeding. A difficult birth can exaggerate these issues amongst other issues. 
  • You may see your baby pulling their legs up, maybe to their chest, they could arch their back, crying a lot, often this happens during a feed or straight after. This can be your babies way of trying to escape the discomfort.
  • Wind/Flatulence can be an issue. 
  • Stools may be mucousy, too frequent, or difficult to pass, or a strange colour. 
  • Lots of crying and difficult to settle. 

When does colic start? When does colic go away? 

Colic can start from birth or days or weeks afterwards. Usually colic is resolved by 6 months if not before. There are extra complexities if your baby also has reflux or food allergies. Lots of parents turn to Homeopathy for help so that their baby can recover from colic and reflux sooner.  

How much crying is normal? 

All babies cry, which is a great thing as it’s their way of communicating with the parents when they want a need to be met e.g. to be fed, sleep, be warmer/colder, for comfort etc. On average, a newborn baby cries 2.5 hours in any 24 hour period. Babies labelled with Colic can cry for longer, be very upset when crying, look uncomfortable and miserable and may do a lot of squirming, lifting legs up to chest etc. 

So what is really going on with your colicky baby? 

As a Homeopath, I seek to understand the root cause so I can identify the right remedy to bring about balance and heal your baby – I will be questioning what is causing so much distress, discontentment and pain for your baby? My approach is holistic so I take into account and question a wide variety of options to get to the bottom of why your baby is suffering in order to provide solutions to the issues at play; 

  • Is your baby’s digestive system too immature to cope with feeding? Which are the best tools suitable to help build tolerance and gut health? e.g. homeopathic gut improving remedies, baby probiotics, food for the mum.  
  • Is their nervous system underdeveloped?   
  • Does your baby have food allergies or milk/CMPA allergies? 
  • Is reflux or silent reflux a factor in your baby’s colic?  
  • Have medications during pregnancy, birth or after caused a problem in your baby? Is a baby friendly cleanse suitable?
  • Has there been a trauma, grief, disappointment, upset during pregnancy, birth or beyond that has shifted the internal balance for your baby? 
  • Has the birth left an emotional mark on your baby in terms of shock? 

Understanding the complexities of each individual baby helps guide me on what prescription is required to rid discomfort, improve the gut and bring about balance and contentment in your baby. 

What can I do to help my Colicky baby? 

  • Rule out any serious underlying issues – see a paediatrician/Doctor for an examination and diagnosis and if colic is accompanied by persistent vomiting, diarrhea, constipation or absence of urine then see a Doctor. Once you know that the crying is not an underlying serious issue then you can move onto other options..
  • Is it reflux or silent reflux? – See my blog on reflux even if there is no vomit visible then your baby may have silent reflux where the acid and milk doesn’t reach the mouth or is swallowed rather than being vomited. 
  • Consider CMPA Allergy or intolerance – If your baby has been diagnosed with colic then its essential to note that many babies can be lactose intolerant as they do not have enough lactase to digest the lactose in the milk or may have CMPA (cows milk protein allergy) which can be causing or making the colic worse. For Bottle fed babies –  you can try changing the babies formula. A goat milk formula may help as it’s easier to digest than Cows milk. Or a lactose free formula, or if diagnosed with CMPA then an extensively hydrolysed formula (EHF) like Nutramigen or amino acid based formula (AAF) like Neocate can be introduced. It is best to do this under the advice of a health care professional and to understand the soy and sugar content in any formula that you switch to (some have levels higher than you would like!). If Breastfed then eliminate dairy/milk products from your diet for at least 7 days and observe if there are any changes in your baby. 
  • Food allergies or irritants for Breastfeeding babies –certain foods in your diet can be causing sensitivities in your baby’s digestive system. Try eliminating certain high suspect foods by stopping the food for 7 days and see if there is an improvement, if no improvement at all then re-introduce and eliminate another food. If there is a slight improvement but not enough then you can try eliminating another food too. Potential irritants are; lactose or protein in cows milk/dairy, egg, soy, wheat/gluten, coffee, chocolate, spices, onions, cruciferous (gassy) vegetables, cabbage, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, strawberries, oranges and grapes. If you eat a lot of a certain food then try eliminating that first to see if that’s an issue, or if you are slightly sensitive to a food that you still eat then try eliminating that. You are being a detective and the clues are in the symptoms. If your baby’s colic is severe then you can remove them all from your diet for 7 days and see if there is an improvement, then add one back in at a time (introduce for 4 days and if no flare of symptoms then introduce another back in). 
  • Gut health/babybiome is so important – as the digestive systems is cited as being an issue in colicky babies, and I see this in my own practice, then using a baby probiotic or taking one yourself if you are breastfeeding can be beneficial. As much as 80% of the immune system comes from the gut so supplementing with probiotics can go a long way to supporting a healthy system, especially if your baby was born via C-section and/or antibiotics have been given to your baby or taken in pregnancy/breastfeeding.  Biocare have a baby friendly product
  • A really sensitive nervous system can be easily over stimulated and result in a baby that cannot calm or settle themselves, they are frazzled, tired and wound up, and don’t know what to do to stop feeling that way. Cranial osteopathy can help rebalance a baby’s nervous system to stop this escalating. Soothing music, white noise and wrapping them up firmly can also help calm your baby. 
  • Look at the patterns of crying in your baby, if there’s a particular time that your baby is worse try to prepare by having extra support there for you both, avoid social events at those times so you are not under extra pressure, you will likely cope better with the crying in the comfort of your own home or with full support from close family or friends who understand. 
  • Offer something for your baby to suckle on after and between feeds e.g. finger, dummy. Some babies want to feed a lot as suckling can provide temporarily relief and comfort. The extra milk or any overfeeding can put too much strain on their already delicate digestive system and aggravate colic. 
  • Try gently rock your baby over your shoulder to see if the gentle pressure on their tummy helps, or place your baby over your knees face down so there is pressure on their abdomen – whether they are better or worse with pressure on their abdomen will help with remedy selection. 
  • Helping with stools – if passing of a stool calms your baby or if colic precedes a stool then give them a warm bath and massage the abdomen in a circular clockwise motion. Holding your baby in a squatting position e.g. their legs pulled up a little may help. 
  • Wind – the less air in the digestive system the better and as baby’s can swallow air while they feed,  try to wind baby regularly during the feed and keep them as upright as possible when feeding.and avoid your baby empty sucking on a bottle (where there is no milk in the teat). If bottle feeding then experiment with the teat size – too small can mean baby can be trying too hard and taking in air when trying to suck the milk. Too large then the milk can come out too fast and create a lot of gulping and trapped wind as they take it in. 
  • Ask others for help so you can have a rest as you are likely to be mentally and physically exhausted and may need to step away. If you have even 5 minutes then try practicing your own relaxation techniques to bring in calm (baths, essential oils, meditation, reading, walk in nature etc) and know that ‘this too shall pass’. Although in the midst of the crying it can feel like forever, accepting that it will be a period of time and then your baby will be more comfortable will help remove any resistance to the situation and leave room for a calming environment for you and your baby.
  • And if you feel that you’ve tried everything then just surrender and do what it takes in that moment to get your baby to rest, stop crying and feel soothed…..bouncing up and down, rocking, taking baby for drives, having a silent house, a noisy house…..we will find and do anything to soothe our babies so try it all to see what provides even the tiniest bit of relief until you get longer term help to heal your baby.
  • Know that there is help for you and your baby, you don’t have to suffer. Homeopathy has lots of options and is very effective with Colic. A baby’s delicate system loves gentle, safe, effective natural medicine. Please see below for options;

Homeopathic medicines for treating your baby

  • Chamomilla 30c: Angry and Intensely irritable baby in distress, scream with anger, restless and demand to be carried, near impossible to comfort and soothe, they will complain a lot. Bloated Abdomen and stomach. Green stools, Diarrhea/runny stools, and may smell of rotten eggs. They want things which are then rejected! They drive their parent crazy as they want things and then reject them, they don’t really know what they want and nothing seems to help. If your baby is teething and has colic then try this first. Sometimes develop red cheeks. 
  • Dioscorea 30c: for babies who arch their back, stretch out and scream with pain. Their little tummy rumbles and grumbles, they are very windy. They do not want to lie down, prefer to be held upright and pains are worse in the morning and better for bending back and stretching out.
  • Colocynthis 30c: this is for babies that draw their legs up, writhe and wiggle in pain, scream with pain, pains come in waves and are severe. With a bloated abdomen and green diarrhea. The babies that need this medicine will feel some relief with pressure or rubbing on their tummy (so putting them over your knees or shoulder can help temporarily). They are better for passing a stool, or passing wind and are worse after eating or drinking, if over heated and before a bowel movement. 
  • Nux Vomica 30c: a tight tummy, spasms of pain and constipation will indicate that this remedy is needed for your baby. This can also be useful if a lot of drugs were given in child birth (it helps detox the liver). If breastfeeding the baby may be worse if you have stimulants like coffee, spicy food or chocolate. 
  • Bryonia 30c: pain is worse for the slightest motion, baby will have great thirst. Baby will draw legs up and burp. The tongue may be coated dirty white or brown in centre.
  • Aethusia 30c: For babies who cannot tolerate breast milk and have vomiting, regurgitation and/or silent reflux, inability to digest milk/CMPA allergy (intolerance or CMPA/allergy). Distressed, colic followed by posseting. 
  • Magnesium mur 30c– constipation after drinking cow’s milk. Stools can be small and knotty and passed with difficulty, with a lot of straining, and may be green.
  • Natrum Phos 6x and Magnesium Phos 6x tissue salts together -aids digestion and helps with pain, colic, cramps and spasm, pains are better for warmth and for bending double. 
  • Lycopodium 30c – for colicky babies with gas, bloating/distended stomach, gurgling noises, wind, and they may be worse between 4pm-8pm and worse with tight clothing on. They can often have a worried frown, like an older looking expression. Vomits food after eating or drinking and belches/burps, but feels better after belching and for any motion. Symptoms are worse for milk and if breastfeeding mother eats flatulent/gassy causing foods e.g. Cabbage, onion, beans.
  • Silicea 30: for babies who cant digest milk, they reject the breast, vomit up feeds but are then hungry afterwards again. Disordered digestion in general, will draw their knees up to their chest to try to get relief. 
  • Magnesia Phos 30c – for babies with cramping and spasmodic pains and flatulence. Pressure on the tummy can bring some relief, so they tend to bring their legs up when they are crying and can expel wind when moving legs up too – all of this provides some relief.  

How to give the chosen remedy

Pick the remedy that resembles your baby the most. Your baby doesn’t have to have every symptom listed for the remedy to help. Give your baby 1 pill of the remedy, every 3 hours for a total of 4 doses. Then wait to see if your baby’s symptoms improve. If some improvements happen but more are needed then continue for 2 more doses. Stop giving the remedy if no improvements are noticed. You could then choose another remedy to try that also matches your baby’s symptoms.  

To administer the remedy, dissolve one pill in a few drops / a teaspoon of milk and feed into baby’s mouth via a spoon or syringe. Or put one pill onto a dry teaspoon and crush the pill by placing another teaspoon on top of the pill. Then add milk to the teaspoon to let it dissolve, or scrape the crushed pill into baby’s mouth. *Avoiding touching the pill with your hands. 

I hope things settle down for you and your baby soon. Should you wish to discuss any problems you are having with yourself or your baby then please get in touch here for a free discovery call or find out more about Homeopathy here

Cheryl x