Coping with the Challenges of Having a Child with Colic

Wellness Tips for Parents of Infants Suffering with Colic

Colicky Baby. Color Day Production / Getty Images

Colic is a common problem in infants and an even more frustrating condition for parents to deal with. Approximately 10 to 30 percent of all infants born have colic. If an infant is going to experience colic in its life, it will typically appear within the first few weeks of life and will subside by the time the infant is four month old. Babies with colic grow and develop normally and it is rarely a factor in later physical or behavioral problems.

How to Identify a Colicky Child

The term colic refers to a condition in which an infant will cry inconsolably from one to four hours at a time. A typically spell is typified by a high pitched loud cry that is continuous. The child may pull its legs up toward their stomachs as if in abdominal pain or their legs may be extended straight out. Often the infant's hands are clenched. They may hold their breath or grimace. Frequently their faces become flush, while their feet remain cold. These episodes can occur at any time, but often begin in the late afternoon or early evening.

Currently, there is no identifiable cause for colic, but doctors have identified a number of factors that classically make colic symptoms worse. These include rapid eating or overfeeding, swallowing excessive air, intestinal gad, lack of burping or food allergies. Doctors also recognize that an environment filled with anger, frustration or even excitement can play a role in this disorder.

Please note: It is critical that all parents consult their child's pediatrician at the onset of colic-like symptoms. It is important to rule out other health complaints such as ear infections, allergies, intestinal blockage, a hernia or even a scratch in the infant's eye.

Wellness Recommendations for Treating Colicky Babies

If you are breast feeding:

  • Watch your intake of caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea and soda.
  • Stop eating milk products for one week to see if the infant is reacting to milk protein you have consumed.
  • Reducing or eliminate gas producing foods such as orange juice, cabbage (and other foods from the cabbage family), beans, broccoli and onions.
  • Drink soothing herb teas such as chamomile tea to calm yourself as well as the infant.

If your baby is formula fed:

  • Change the type of formula or type of water being used. You can also try changing to a low-allergy formula or switch to a soy based on.
  • Make sure your baby is getting enough to eat. Check the hole size of the nipples you purchased. If the holes are too small, enlarge them.


More Recommendations for Your Colicky Baby

  • Burp your baby after each ounce of formula or every few minutes.
  • To reduce the possibility of your child swallowing air, have him or her sit up rather than lie down when eating.
  • Gently repetitive movements will soothe some babies. Try taking them for a ride in the car or a walk in the park. Rock them in a rocking chair or rocking swing and try leaning their infant seat against a running clothes dryer or dishwasher.
  • Sounds can also help calm a colicky infant. Many parents have found relief by playing soothing music, running their vacuum cleaner or even their clothes dryer.
  • Applied heat can also help. Lay your baby over a warm hot water bottle that is covered with a towel or trying giving him or her a hot bath. Add a few drops of chamomile or marjoram essential oil to the water to help them to relax further.
  • Herbal chamomile has a long history of calming an infant and easing intestinal cramping.
  • Teas made of licorice root, catnip, or fennel have also been found to help.

Read more wellness articles from Dr. Rita Louise