Infantile colic, or simply colic, is a mystery medical condition. There are no research results available that claim to know the exact and confirmed causes for colic in babies. Infantile colic is a state of excessive crying in an otherwise healthy and well-fed infant which affects approximately 5–19% (Gelfand, 2016)of infants.
If a newborn baby cries continuously for three hours, a minimum of every alternate day, for approximately three weeks, it can be called Colic. Newborn babies are susceptible to colic anytime in the 1st month after birth, and the condition resolves itself around the 4th month.
Most doctors believe that colic is a state of indigestion or gas in the baby’s gastric system. Colic presents itself in babies with the following symptoms:
- Inconsolable crying lasting for at least 3 hours
- Crying at the same time every day
- Flailing arms and legs while crying
- Tightening of abdomen muscles
- Excessive gas, milk reflux, or bowel movement
There is no cure for colic; however, treating colic with a home remedy is a way to reduce the distress faced by the baby and the related stress faced by new parents. Home remedies for colic in babies are an easy and effective way to relieve the digestive or gastric distress in a safe, chemical-free, nature-based, and instant relief technique.
Home Remedies for Colic in Babies
Although, the exact reason for colic is unknown, let’s look at a few suggested mythical causes of colic:
- Underfeeding the child
- Overfeeding the baby
- Flatulence or gas in a baby’s stomach
- Sucking Reflex of baby
- Spoiling the mother and newborn baby (Illingworth, 1954)
These above-stated causes are the common misbelief in the general population which is their way to understand a difficult situation. Such assumptions lead to the mismanagement of the circumstances.
The important facts about colic that help you recognize it from other babies are:
- It can start anytime between 3rd day to 3rd week of birth
- It lasts till 3-4 months after birth
- Colic is most commonly observed in the evening
- It usually happens at the same time every time
- There are no cures available, only remedial reliefs.
- Once the baby sleeps, the crying does not resume until the same time next week.
[Also Read: How to Deal with Baby Colic]
Home remedies for colic, reflux, or gas problem in newborn babies focus on reducing the discomfort and providing relief from the condition without ingesting medicines.
Let’s look at a few home remedies that soothe the babies and de-stress the parents:
1. Sound and Motion
A baby’s discomfort can be due to a myriad number of reasons, ranging from digestive distress and gas problem to growing pains. If your baby is fed and rested during the day and starts to cry uncontrollably without any of the usual reasons, you may safely attribute the crying to colic.
Walking with the baby and singing a soothing song or rhyme is an excellent way to calm the newborn child. The sensation of repeated movements like a rocking chair or swinging in the cradle of the parent’s arm increases the child’s sense of security and comfort.
The soft musical notes or a favorite lullaby that a parent murmur sings, or plays on a sound medium give the child something familiar to focus its senses on. Following a repeated sound and motion, helps the baby to recognize and cope with its distress. This sound and motion technique can be followed on every attack by either parent or primary care provider.
[Also Read: Natural Methods for Baby Hiccups]
2. Holding the Baby Upright
A baby’s colic has been attributed to the trapped air in the system. A baby tends to swallow air while sucking milk. This air has to be passed out of the digestive system in the form of gas. The supine position of a child does not allow its immature digestive tract to pass this gas out of the system.
Since a baby does not know any form of communication other than crying, it’s a parent’ s job to understand the reason for a baby’s distress. If the baby does not need feed, a clean diaper, or sleep; it can be assumed that the baby is crying due to colic.
Keeping a baby upright by supporting it on your shoulder and supporting its neck allows the trapped air to pass out of the system. Therefore, many babies are assumed to have a gas problem(1); which is not true.
Babies are not producing gas in their system; they are trying to clear the swallowed air out of their stomach. The upright position of a baby allows the distress to lessen fast and effectively; thereby, calming the newborn child.
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Asafoetida(2) or Hing is excellent for digestion. The chemical composition of Hing encourages digestive disorders in adults as well as children. An old wives tale or a grandmother’s cure for colic involves making the newborn take in a whiff of Asafoetida or mixing a pinch of it in water and putting it in the baby’s navel.
The marvelous root of Hing has been proven to soothe the baby’s distress by these methods. However, it is unknown to science as to how this ancient ritual works.
4. Warm Carom Compress
Carom seeds find a mention in Ayurvedic philosophies as aiding digestive health. Carom seeds, on consumption, help the stomach and intestine to process foods.
However, colicky babies are very small and usually are unable to consume carom in any form.It is recommended to heat a handful of carom seeds in a pan and bind it in a cloth compress.
Test the temperature of the compress on the inside of the skin of your elbow or wrist. Gently apply this warm carom compress on the stomach and abdomen of the child.
If the crying is to communicate cramping, growing pain, or gas/trapped air problem; the child is sure to find relief with this warm carom compress.
[Also Read: Home Remedies to Treat Baby Acne]
5. Warm Bath
It is commonly known that babies love a warm bath. It helps their muscles relax, makes them feel secure, and also induces sleep in them. A warm bath is a sure way to calm a child. It helps them feel sleepy and allows them to relax in slumber.
However, be sure to wrap the baby well after a bath; as sometimes untimely baths or improper bathing can cause a newborn to catch a cold.
[Read: Probiotics for Babies]
6. Oil Massage
The ancient wisdom in oil massage cure for colic lays its roots in the fact that warm oil helps a baby’s muscles to relax. The post-massage exercises for babies, like stretching of limbs or gently pushing the knees onto the stomach, allows the baby to relieve gas, allows the muscles to unclench, and tires the baby.
All these reasons help a baby to sleep, and this effectively terminates all the causes of crying. Additionally, the repeated touch of the parent while doing the massage is soothing for the baby; they draw comfort from the repeated motions and exercises.
This is another reason that warm oil massage helps colicky babies. The oils that can be used are coconut, mustard, olive, or any baby oil available in the market.
Colic is an untreatable condition of a newborn child that resolves itself by the 4th month of a child’s life. However, there are a few babies that continue to exhibit symptoms of colic after the 4th month also. This should not be a cause for concern, and the home remedies should be pursued to provide relief to the child.
Home remedies for colic are safe and chemical-free; they focus on giving relief to the newborn child. They have been successfully employed all over the world by mothers as a safe way to cure colic without allopathic intervention.
[Also Read: Essential Oil for Babies]
1. Is Colic and Reflux the Same Thing?
Ans. No, colic and acid reflux are two different conditions. Most babies spit out a part of their food. However, if a baby continuously vomits most of its milk, shows reddish mouth wounds, or white coated tongue, it is recommended to consult a pediatrician.
2. How Long Does Colic Last?
Ans. Although most cases of colic resolve themselves around the 4th month of life, sometimes the cases last longer. This is not a cause for concern.
3. What Are the Symptoms of Colic in Babies?
Ans. The primary symptom of colic is inconsolable crying for at least three hours without any knowable cause like dirty diaper, hunger, or sleep.