6 natural ways to cope with colic

baby crying

by Stephanie Spencer |
Updated on

Colic in babies (uncontrollable crying in a baby with no obvious cause), is a common problem affecting around 1 in 5 babies and usually starts a few weeks after birth. Looking after a colicky baby can be frustrating and distressing for infant and parent alike. Symptoms include unexplained crying episodes lasting from a few minutes to a few hours, often at the same time each day; intense high-pitched inconsolable crying, sometimes with a flushed complexion; and postural changes such as curled up legs, clenched fists and tense abdominal muscles. Babies may also pass wind or a bowel movement towards the end of the crying episode. Unfortunately, there's no sure-fire treatment that works for all babies with colic.

Luckily, however, colic is not thought to be harmful to your baby and will generally improve by age 3 - 6 months. In the meantime there are a number of natural techniques that may help:

Natural remedies for colic


Natural cures for colic

1) Burping position1 of 6

1) Burping position

Holding your baby as upright as possible during feedings and pausing regularly to burp them may help reduce wind. For burping, lay the baby a little higher that you normally would, so that your chest is gently pushing against their stomach. Lean slightly forward so that the head is leaning back just a little, making it easier to unleash the burp. You want to tap on the lower back at first, then slowly move to the upper back. Keep patting until at least 3 burps have been released (there’s often more trapped air in there than you think!) In severe cases of colic, you may have to lift baby's arms a few times and repeat.

2) Milk2 of 6

2) Milk

If you're breastfeeding, it may help to allow your baby to feed at one breast until it's nearly empty before switching sides. This provides your baby with rich, fatty hindmilk, potentially more satisfying than the lighter foremilk present at the start of a feed. If bottle-feeding, consider switching to an extensively hydrolysed formula to test if this makes a difference. The milk proteins in hydrolysed formulas have already been broken down, making them easier to digest if your baby has an intolerance to cow’s milk. Even partially hydrolysed formulas should be avoided if milk allergy/intolerance is suspected.

 3) Live bacteria supplements3 of 6

3) Live bacteria supplements

Numerous studies indicate the gut flora to be imbalanced in infants suffering from colic, with increased concentrations of gas forming bacteria and often fewer levels of beneficial bacteria, such as lactobacilli and bifido species. A balanced gut flora is important in infants to assist in the digestion of milk, regular healthy bowel movements and absorption of nutrients. Live bacteria supplements have been shown to help rebalance the gut flora and have shown positive results in improving symptoms of colic. For example, the 7 strains of bacteria, plus prebiotics (a food source for beneficial bacteria in the gut) in Bio-Kult Infantis (£12 www.tesco.com) have been shown in a clinical trial to help manage symptoms of colic in infants from 2 weeks old, significantly reducing crying times when compared to placebo, without reported side-effects.

4) 5 ‘S’ Approach 4 of 6

4) 5 ‘S’ Approach

This approach involves a series of rhythmic calming techniques, which studies have shown when used together can improve sleep or reduce crying:
Swaddling - safe swaddling (carefully avoiding overheating) by covering the head, using bulky or loose blankets, and allowing the hips to be flexed.
Side or stomach- holding a baby on the back is the safest position for sleep, but it is the worst position for calming a fussy baby.
Shhh sound - making a strong shush sound near the baby's ear.
Swinging - with tiny jiggly movements (no more than 1inch back and forth) always supporting the head and neck.
Sucking - Letting the baby suckle on the breast, your clean finger or a pacifier.

5) Look at your own diet and lifestyle 5 of 6

5) Look at your own diet and lifestyle

Where symptoms do not improve after trying the above, if breastfeeding you may want to look at your own dietand consider removing gassy foods such as cruciferous vegetables, garlic and onions and common allergens such as gluten, wheat, dairy, peanuts and soy for a short while to see if there is any improvement. Infants of mothers who smoke during pregnancy or after delivery have a greater risk of developing colic. So if you do smoke, this is another good reason to quit.

6) Ask for help6 of 6

6) Ask for help

Interestingly, a lower incidence of colic symptoms has been noted with increased support from family members and friends, so don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Support groups, such as Cry-sis, can also offer help and advice if you need it. You can contact the Cry-sis helpline for advice on 0845 122 8669 (9am-10pm, seven days a week).

21 Of The Best Tips To Soothe Your Baby’s Crying

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