Colic is defined as excessive crying for more than 3 hours a day at least 3 days a week for 3 weeks or more in an otherwise healthy baby. One in 4 infants have colic making this condition of of the most common reasons for visits to their pediatrician. Since no one knows the cause of this condition it is really hard to treat. This usually starts at 2 weeks of age and resolves by 4 months of age.
There is no single treatment that has been proven to alleviate colic but the following are some suggestions that you can try which works for some babies.
- Make sure the baby is fed, diaper is clean and he/she is not tired.
- Try soothing the baby by walking with him, sitting and rocking, you can not spoil them at this age
- Make sure you burp them often in between feedings and try to feed them a little bit at a time between burps
- Swings might help, anything soothing and vibrating
- You can also try car rides
- Play some music
- Any continuous sound (i.e the sound of the blow dryer, the sound of the vacuum cleaner)
- Try swaddling the baby in a darkened room with decreased stimulation
- Mother needs to have a time-out period without the baby for a few hours a day to de-stress, this helps with stress reduction
Changes in diet is one of the few potential preventive and therapeutic options. Breastfeeding exclusively do not prevent colic but it has been observed that staying aways from certain foods improve the symptoms. Foods to avoid for breastfeeding mothers.
- caffeine (coffee, tea, caffeinated sodas)
- cow's milk (dairy products)
- orange juice
- soy, wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and fish
- broccoli, cabbages
Hypoallergenic formulas (Nutramigen, Alimentum) has been shown to decrease crying times due to colic. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend trial of hypoallergenic formula for severe colic.
Some parents and pediatricians result to Complementary Alternative Medicine(CAM) for the relief of colic. An article in the Pediatrics in Review Journal (2007:28:381-385) reviewed the existing studies to see if these are efficacious.
- Fennel Seed Oil - 5ml-20ml of 0.1% fennel seed oil emulsion give up to 4 times a day for 1 week. The study showed significant improvement fewer than 9 hours of crying in 1 week. Patient can have allergic reactions resulting in a rash and difficulty of breathing. Fennel is reported to cause seizures. But long-term safety is unknown.
- Botanical Blend -herbal tea (fennel, chamomile,vervain,licorice and lemon balm) up to 150ml dose of herbal tea for a maximum of three times a day. Study shows that this decreased the crying to 3 hours daily. Long term safety of this herbal combination is unknown.
- Probiotics - Study results in a trial of Lactobacillus reuteri(10 to the 8 bacteria/day) results in 95% were considered to be responders and no adverse reaction was reported.
- Chiropractic manipulation- Studies that were reviewed contradict each other and at this point this is not recommended as an effective treatment for colic.
- Osteopathy-individualized cranial osteopathic manipulation once a week for 4 weeks. No adverse events were reported but this seem to help some infants with colic. Larger clinical trial need to be done before this can be recommended. We do not recommend this at this point.
- Massage-Studies show that there is effectiveness of infant massage in promoting physical and mental health in infants but further studies need to be done before this can be recommended as treatment for colic.