Combating Colic

If having a new baby means sleepless nights coupled with seemingly unending screaming for hours on end, chances are high that your little one could be suffering from colic. And it’s safe to say that colic in babies can be a very distressing time for you and your little one. Looking after a newborn is hard enough, as you work hard to get to know them (and they you) and to decipher their cries so that you can meet their needs. But having your baby scream and cry for hours at a time can be very hard to deal with, and upsetting for all concerned too. Please rest assured that you are not alone, and that there are indeed natural remedies you can try to help your baby with colic.

How do you know it’s colic?

Colic usually occurs between the ages of around three weeks to three months of age, and usually takes place in the late afternoon, evening or at night. Classic symptoms of colic include baby being hard to comfort (when through the day you are able to easily comfort and settle them) and appearing to be in pain or discomfort. Of course, the continuous crying is often the most telling of symptoms, and the one that has most parents tearing their hair out in an attempt to soothe.

What causes colic?

There are theories that suggest colic is caused by air bubbles trapped in the baby’s immature digestive system, which cause baby pain and discomfort. Some doctors will recommend keeping baby upright after feeds and ensuring you wind baby thoroughly to try and relieve trapped wind. Some parents will tell you that very little seems to comfort them at all.

How can I tell if my baby has colic?

If any of the above has you nodding your head in grim recognition, then you may want to check the following symptoms too:
● excessive crying that usually starts at the same time every day
● crying begins when baby is a few weeks old and lasts for a few months
● baby is otherwise very healthy
● baby pulls their legs up to the chest, tightens abdomen muscles and clenches their fists. Babies face may also appear red and contorted in pain.

Be aware that while all babies cry- that’s how they communicate, after all- excessive crying is not usual and is worth investigating. If you are sure that baby is clean, warm, fed and rested but still crying a lot them there is a very good chance colic is to blame.

Colic can be a frightening time for new parents, particularly if you’re unable to soothe baby. Seeing your child in pain is not a pleasant experience, and feeling helpless can lead to frustration and upset. But it’s worth mentioning here that colic is not caused by you having done anything wrong. And it does help to talk to other parents who are going through similar- it’s estimated that colic affects nearly 25% of all babies in the UK, so you are not alone, even if it feels otherwise.

Natural remedies for Colic

Many parents will turn to medicine for help with colic, but there are natural ways that you can help your little one too. Here are some top tips and natural remedies to help ease the symptoms:

● Homeopathy. Such remedies have been used for over two centuries, and with very good reason too. They work. For colic, Magnesia Phosphorica (Mag Phos) is most commonly recommended because it has a soothing effect on cramps. One tablet dissolved in milk and given to baby straight after a feed can offer huge relief from pain and discomfort, and for babies that are breastfed mother can take two tablets three times a day (after meals) so ensure that the remedy is passed to baby through the milk.
● Diet. A mother’s breastfeeding diet is essential in helping to ease baby’s symptoms of colic, and is often the first thing we think of in such cases. Although there really isn’t a known list of foods that should be eliminated from the mother’s diet, there are some foods that are commonly known to aggravate colic and should therefore be avoided. These include dairy, eggs, nuts, soya, caffeine and gluten. Spicy foods are also thought to be best avoided and some women swear that too many carbohydrates such as bread and pasta can also make baby a little more unsettled too. Drinking chamomile tea is a wonderful way to ease symptoms of colic, as it is passed through to baby through the milk and is known for its soothing properties.
● Herbal tea. Studies have found that herbal teas containing chamomile, fennel and lemon balm can significantly reduce symptoms of colic and it’s easy to make a similar version with chamomile and fennel yourself at home. Place half a teaspoon of the herbs in one cup on boiling water. Cover and steep for five to ten minutes, then strain. Once cool you can give baby a few teaspoons. Additionally, breastfeeding mothers can drink the tea and pass the benefits on to baby through the milk.
● Babywearing. Studies have long since shown that babies who are carried upright and close to a parent tend to cry less. Babywearing means carrying baby for long periods of time throughout the day, and it is this that reaps the benefits, rather than short periods of carrying baby to soothe them. Babywearing parents tend to carry their infants for several hours a day, before baby begins to cry and fuss. There is a theory that babies with colic display these symptoms due to disorganised biorhythms that were once regulated by the mother’s body during pregnancy. Once on the outside, these biorhythms are disrupted, but babywearing allows for a reconnection to occur. Babywearing helps to emulate conditions in the womb by providing warmth and security and many believe that it can be hugely beneficial for babies suffering with colic.
● Avoid over stimulation. Some babies cannot cope with too much going on around them and find that excessive noise, lights and action leads to feelings of being unable to relax and unwind. Make sure that you provide lots of calm space for your baby to feel secure and confident during the day, and at night.
● See a chiropractor. Many parents believe that misalignment suffered during labour and birth can cause symptoms of colic, and a chiropractor is able to help with this. Make sure that your chiropractor has worked with infants before, as adjustments should only be very slight. None the less, treatment can help to ease pain and discomfort and make colic less likely too.
● Baby massage. We are huge advocates of baby massage, and truly believe that this is one wonderful way that you can help baby yourself at home. Baby massage can help to keep the digestive system working well and there are no expensive requirements either. Baby aromatherapy. Colic can be treated quite effectively by blending aromatherapy with baby massage oil. Add one teaspoon of organic sunflower oil to one drop of dill essential oil. Blend together and warm in the palm of your hand before applying to baby’s tummy during massage. Dill is well known for its abilities to ease indigestion and gastric upsets.

Soothing baby reflux

Pregnancy is a wonderful time. Despite the intense fatigue, the sickness, and the aches and pains (not to mention all the other ailments and symptoms that can come about due to a growing baby), there is something magical about realising that you have helped to create an entire life, and that life is growing steadily within you. Pregnancy is also a time of planning, of dreaming, and of hoping that plans and dreams come together in the end to give you the perfect child in a perfect situation.

It’s not always the case though. You may hope for snuggling cuddles and long, leisurely walks, you may look forward to just sitting and watching your baby sleep, but what you probably won’t expect is not being able to do any of these things due to infant reflux. That’s what happened to me when my daughter was born – I had hoped for something so different for her, but my poor little girl was in pain what seemed like all of the time.

Infant reflux leaves you with a baby who is screaming in pain as their stomachs battle with the issues that are plaguing them. This means a baby who cannot settle, with whom you cannot spend quality, parent/child bonding time, and for whom you can do little to help. Over the counter medicines are so mild as to barely touch the problem. Prescribed medicines can cause horrible side effects. So what can be done? Perhaps it is time to turn to natural remedies to aid your baby’s well being. Stop feeling helpless and start the process towards health and happiness.

What Is Infant Reflux?

Infant reflux (or gastroesophageal reflux disease) means that your child has an underdeveloped oesophageal sphincter. Although the symptoms are often mistaken for the less serious (although still painful and uncomfortable) colic at first, having infant reflux means that the valve that opens to allow food to pass from the mouth to the stomach doesn’t close as it should once the food is swallowed. This means that anything eaten or drunk (including milk) can come back up the windpipe, and when it does it brings stomach acid with it. Obviously, this excessive acid is incredibly painful.

Signs and symptoms most commonly include your child arching their back after feeding, and crying due to the pain. Sleep will be disturbed (yours and theirs), and they may vomit more than a child without infant reflux would. As well as this, you may notice them gagging or choking (which in itself is an awful thing to witness in your infant), and they may get the hiccoughs frequently. Eventually, the pain and discomfort may lead to a refusal to eat (and therefore weight loss) and crying during a feed.

Natural Remedies That Can Help

As a parent, saving your child from pain becomes a lifelong mission, and I was (and am) no exception. And since none of the medicines we tried seemed to be helping at all, I decided I needed to look elsewhere to help her. In my quest, I found that there were plenty of other routes that can be taken when it comes to infant reflux.

• Homeopathic remedies have been used for over two centuries, and with good reason; they work. For reflux, Nat Phos 6x works wonders. Just one tablet dissolved in milk and given straight after a feed offers a huge relief from the pain and suffering that reflux brings. For babies who are breastfed, it is possible for the mother to take two of the tablets three times a day (after meals). The goodness is then passed straight to the baby through the mother’s milk.

• Diet when breastfeeding is another way to help ease the problems of infant reflux. Although there is no proven list of foodstuff that should be cut out of a child’s mother’s diet with regards to reflux, it is good to remember that a baby’s digestive system is tiny and delicate, and therefore can’t cope with items that an adult’s can. These things could include dairy, eggs, nuts, soya, caffeine, gluten, and anything spicy, as well as too many carbs. Drinking more chamomile tea may also help as the benefits are passed through your milk and can ease a sore tummy.

• Keep your baby’s head elevated whilst feeding. This will help aid the milk to get to her stomach rather than getting caught in her oesophagus. But it’s not just at mealtimes that reflux can occur, so also keep their head up during nappy changing, bath time, and playtime if possible.

• Little and often is the key to many things in life, and infant reflux doesn’t seem to be any different. It could be that too much milk at once can set off the symptoms of reflux, so smaller meals at more frequent intervals could settle it back down again. Burping after every feed is also helpful and can ease the pain your child may be feeling.

• Jewellery helps too. Not just any jewellery though; Hazelwood reflux jewellery helps to ease the excess acid build up that comes from reflux.

• Have you ever heard of baby wearing? Perhaps you have, but by a different name. Baby wearing is the practice of using a carrier or sling. It’s a wonderful way of bonding with your infant, but it also keeps them upright for longer than they might usually be (with no pressure of their stomachs), thus keeping the symptoms of reflux to a minimum.

• A chiropractor may well be able to help your baby’s reflux. Some babies suffer misalignment due to the birthing process, and this can lead to issues with their pallet and cranium, which means that reflux is more likely. A skilled chiropractor can ensure that this is fixed, and that reflux is less likely. Do make sure that the chiropractor you choose has worked with infants before, as the adjustments should only be very slight.

• Leading on from what a chiropractor can do for your child is what you can do at home; baby massage. Baby massage works to keep the digestive system working well and as it should do, even maturing it to be able to cope with different food types at an early age. There is no expensive or complicated equipment required; all you need is baby oil (organic if possible) with perhaps an added drop of lavender or chamomile.

Trying these alternative methods of calming a child’s infant reflux symptoms is not only a relief to the suffering baby, but a relief to the parents as well.