Q&A With Dr Aliya: The "C" Word—Colic—Explained

We look at what colic is and explore some of the natural remedies that can help you treat your baby's colic

Q. My 6 week old baby never stops crying.  Even after we’ve tried feeding, burping and changing her, she won’t calm down. The pediatrician believes she has colic and that the crying will stop on its own. Is there anything I can do to help?

A.  We all know that babies have a tendency to cry—a lot.  Mostly when they need to be fed, changed or burped. And parents can usually find the reason why crying occurs and soothe their fussy baby. 

Colic is defined as uncontrolled crying or difficulty soothing in an otherwise, healthy, well-fed infant. A popular way to describe colic is using Dr Wessel’s “Rule of 3s” which states that colicky babies cry or fuss for at least 3 hours per day, on 3 or more days, for 3 or more weeks. 

The onset of colic is usually between birth and 24 weeks old, with the peak fussiness occurring between 4 to 6 weeks. Eighty-six percent of cases will resolve by 3 months of age, however there are others that can persist longer. 

There are many reasons to explain infantile colic including birth trauma causing cranial and spinal dysfunctions, lack of proper intestinal or gut flora, reaction to something in mom’s breast milk causing gas or consumption of cow’s milk (via formula). Pediatricians recommend treatment with medications depending on the cause of colic or simply waiting for your baby to outgrow this condition.

Parents who are struggling with a colicky baby often look to me to provide suggestions to help soothe their baby. Unfortunately, there isn’t one particular method or remedy to treat infantile colic. There may be some things that work for one baby and other things that work for another. 

Here are a few things to try:

Probiotics

Recent research from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto has shown that probiotics can significantly reduce colic in breastfed infants. Probiotics contain beneficial bacteria, which promote the growth of healthy intestinal microbes that may be lacking in colicky babies.  A naturopathic doctor can suggest an appropriate one for your baby.

Chiropractic care

An experienced chiropractor may help correct any spinal dysfunction from your baby’s spine. This will help to reduce irritation to your little one’s nervous system allowing colic symptoms to resolve. 

Nutrition for breastfeeding moms

Certain foods can irritate a baby’s already delicate and immature digestive system.  Avoiding certain foods that irritate a baby’s tummy may help. Some of these include: carbonated beverages, chocolate, sugar, dairy products, eggs, alcohol, coffee, spicy foods, beans.

Extra burping

Colicky babies need some extra time digesting foods and burping. It’s important to allow them to have some additional time to get rid off any extra wind. 

Rather than holding your baby up to your shoulder and tapping their back, instead try to sit them on your lap, place a hand across their chest and lift them up slightly while rubbing their back. This lightens the pressure on their stomach and encourages burping. 

Breastfeeding support

If you are breastfeeding, the right advice from a lactation consultant can make a world of difference for your fussy baby. Newborn babies who are learning how to breastfeed struggle to get a good latch and swallow a lot of air in the process. This creates discomfort and pain.

Take heed, Mama—a colicky baby is not an easy transition to parenthood. Colic is difficult to treat and requires a trial and error approach. It’s important that you receive some support and help during this stage in our baby’s life. Rest assured this too shall pass and happy days are just around the corner!

Do you have a question for Dr. Aliya? Send an email to editor@babypost.com with Dr. Aliya in the subject line and check back every Thursday to see what Dr. Aliya is writing about each week!

A health practitioner, chiropractor and acupuncturist with a distinct integrative care approach, Aliya brings extensive experience in pre-natal and pediatric wellness to her clinical practice at Restore Integrative Health in Toronto. She is also a runner, yoga instructor and new mother.

Visit her website at draliyavisram.com or follow her on Twitter @DrAliyaVisram or on Instagram @DrAliyaVisramDC

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