The Best Way to Help a Baby With Colic

As any parent who has ever had a colicky baby can attest to, colic is not a fun time. Colic can be overwhelming, confusing, and heart wrenching for new (and likely sleep-deprived) parents. Fortunately, there is help.

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What Is Colic And How Can I Tell If I Have A Colicky Baby?

For those fortunate parents who haven’t had to deal with colic, the American Pregnancy Association defines colic as “inconsolable crying in an infant that lasts many hours a day, starting in the second week of life and lasting until about three months of age.” 

 The organization shares the following information on colic:

  • Approximately one quarter of babies experience colic
  • Colic tends to be at its worst when babies are six – eight weeks old
  • In 50% of cases, colic ends at three months of age
  • In 90% of cases, colic ends by the time the baby is nine months old
  • Colic symptoms are typically worst in the evening

All babies are prone to crying spurts. Crying is, after all, how a baby tells us that they are hungry, tired, cold, or overstimulated. So, how can you tell if your baby has colic or is simply engaging in run of the mill crying? 

Babies who are experiencing colic symptoms will cry excessively. In addition to the frequent and long-lasting crying episodes that are the hallmark of colic, colicky babies will often move their legs (pulling them up and/or extending them) and clench their fists tight. Colicky babies may also have hardened stomachs due to gas, and you may see them arching their backs. Most colicky babies also sleep poorly and may wake often in order to cry.

What Causes Colic?

While the definitive cause of colic is still up in the air, researchers have identified a few items that may increase the chances of colic in babies:

  • An immature nervous system
  • Mothers who smoked during pregnancy, with twice the risk of having a colicky baby
  • Low birth weight
  • A reaction to food in a mother’s diet (in cases where the baby is breastfed)
  • Overfeeding
  • Intestinal gas, potentially from intaking air while crying

How Is Colic Treated?

Since there is no definitive identified cause for colic, there is also no proven cure that exists. A trip to the doctor is recommended in order to rule out other potential ailments, like an intestinal obstruction. Having ruled out any other potential maladies, doctors will then return a colic diagnosis. There are a number of strategies that doctors recommend as being effective in treating a colicky baby.

Monitor Food Intake

Breastfeeding mothers are often advised to keep a food and crying diary in order to establish whether there is any correlation between specific dietary choices and increased crying episodes. For bottle-fed babies who are colicky, it is recommended to try switching formula, as the baby may be reacting to an ingredient in the formula.

The Power Of Touch

Holding a baby upright as often as possible has been proven to help with colic. So has frequent burping.

Focus On Their Tummy

Placing a warm bottle on a baby’s abdomen sometimes seems to ease colic symptoms. Likewise, so does laying your baby tummy-down across your knees while moving your legs to gently massage their stomach area. A third tummy-related suggestion is to gently rub their stomach in a clockwise direction. 

How Chiropractic Care Can Help With Colic

Another leading recommendation from doctors for parents of colicky babies is to seek out chiropractic treatment. The birthing process can be distressing for babies and can sometimes result in spinal misalignment (also referred to as subluxation). By working with a chiropractor who is trained specifically in pediatric chiropractic techniques, they will be able to determine whether a spinal misalignment is the root cause for colic distress. Chiropractic adjustments on babies can help to ensure that nervous systems and digestive systems are working as they should and can provide tremendous relief to parent and baby alike.  

New parents have enough on their plates without throwing colic into the mix. Constant sleepless nights, and crying fits that last for hours on end, take a real emotional and physical toll on both parents and babies. If you are looking for a natural, safe, and effective way to treat colic, pediatric chiropractic treatment is the way to go. Schedule an appointment online or call (256) 333-9429.



This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.