Comforting Your Colicky Baby

I’st six o’clock in the evening and, like clockwork, your baby is screaming.  Her legs are pulled tightly to her chest and her cries are non-stop and very, very loud.  You know she is in pain.  You can hear it in her wailing and see it on her face.  It’s not a wet diaper and she’s certainly not hungry for she just nursed.  All of the blogs and infant care sites you are reading and even the pediatrician are saying it is that it is most likely a bad case of the colic.  You brace yourself for another hour or two of endless crying for both yourself and your poor little infant.

What is colic anyway and most importantly, what can be done to cure it?  Those are age old questions that date back as far as babies do.

The word colic is derived from the Greek word kolikos which is where the word kolonor colon stems from.  Colic is indeed an issue of the intestines.  It can range from simple indigestion to excruciating gastrointestinal pain.

Colic is often referred to as “Purple crying”.  Although it does seem a bit ironic, it is not called such because the baby cries so hard she turns purple.  It is actually an acronym that describes the symptoms, peak (age 2 weeks to 2 months as a rule), unexpected (going from content to screaming), resist (nothing can be done to soothe the baby), pain (the baby is in obvious severe discomfort, long (the bouts of crying seem to last forever) and evening (most colic takes place between six and eight o’clock in the evening).

Colic is often diagnosed from its lack of symptoms rather than the symptoms themselves.  If the baby is not hungry, not wet or soiled and has no apparent medical conditions, it is usually assumed that she has colic.

What causes colic?  Although sometimes a food or milk allergy can aggravate or even trigger it, colic is, unfortunately, just a natural malady that happens when little tiny tummies are adjusting.  It is thought that heredity may play a role too.  If you were a colicky baby, statistics show that you are more likely to have a colicky baby yourself.

Every mother of a baby with colic wants to know the same thing.  “What can be done to cure it?”  Generally speaking, there is no known medical cure.  There are some alternative measures some mothers swear by and some other remedies too that may help.

Gripe water has been used by mothers for years to combat colic, sometimes successfully and sometimes not.  Gripe water is a liquid that can be a combination of various ingredients.  Sodium bicarbonate is usually the main active ingredient and it may also contain ginger, dill, chamomile and dill.  Alcohol was a prime ingredient in the days of old but isn’t usually found in modern day forms.  Gripe water was invented in 1951 as a hopeful remedy not only for colic and teething for malaria as well.  Some gripe waters are not FDA approved and some contain such things as alcohol, sugar, glutens and other ingredients that you will want to avoid so if you decide to try it, please do your homework.

Herbal remedies and essential oils are the choice of some mothers’ for colicky infants.  Ginger, peppermint, dill, lemon oil and chamomile are among the most popular.  Fennel, caraway and aloe are often used as well.  Again, you will want to thoroughly research anything you give your baby and it’s a good idea to check with your pediatrician before- hand.

Paregoric was given to colicky babies throughout the ages too.  It is an opiate and although it was diluted, is certainly not a passive cure.  Even in the 1980’s, many doctors prescribed it but that is no longer a common practice.

If your baby has colic, you know how disheartening it can be.  You feel so helpless.  It is only natural to want to try everything you can in order to stop the pain.  In the long-run though, sometimes all you can do is to hold and comfort your little one and to know that, as my own mother used to assure me, “this too shall pass.”