Dealing With Colic

dealing with colic lilian presti naturally savvyColic is characterized as a period of incessant crying by babies, notably between the 6th and 12th weeks after birth. The actual cause of colic remains unknown, although the most popular theory links this condition to digestive upset. For many parents, this period is one of intense stress and exasperation because all their best efforts to comfort baby seem to have little or no affect. That being said, there are specific strategies that have worked for some parents with colicky little ones. It may be worth giving them a try.

Five Strategies for Colic

1. Remove possible food allergens

One of the most common triggers of colic is an offending food in the mother’s diet. Breast milk is wonderful and precious, and should never be discouraged unless specific medical conditions exist. However certain substances in breast milk can be problematic for a baby if they act as food allergens. The most common allergens are dairy, wheat, soy, corn, nuts, seafood, and eggs. Try removing dairy and wheat first, and then observe if the situation improves. One of these is the likely culprit if it does improve. If the problem persists, begin eliminating the remaining foods listed above.

2. Switch formula brands

If a baby is on formula, parents may want to consider changing the baby’s formula to ensure it isn’t the formula that is causing an adverse reaction. Some babies can be sensitive to a specific formula brand but doing well on others.

3. Magnesium

Magnesium is an incredible mineral that has many uses and benefits for the body. In regards to colic, magnesium may be able to help on two levels. First, it can help improve intestinal function by reducing irritation and alleviating constipation. Second, it can be helpful due to its calming effect which helps babies relax and subsequently fall asleep. Dr Leo Galland, author of Superimmunity for Kids, recommends supplementing with between 50 and 100mg of magnesium citrate per day. It can be mixed into a baby’s liquids.¹

4. Probiotics

Probiotics are good bacteria that are essential for proper colon health. Inadequate levels of these good bacteria can have a negative affect on colon function and could possibly create issues such as gas and discomfort. An Italian study done in 2007 on 83 colicky babies showed a 75% reduction in crying for babies that were given a specific strand of probiotics, Lactobacillus reuteri, after 28 days.² It appears that adding good bacteria to your baby’s diet, either through expressed breast milk or formula, may be a wise strategy.

5. Carry the baby as much as possible

Babies do not tend to develop colic in cultures where mothers carry their babies in slings or in similar apparatus throughout the day. If we stop and think about it, babies are very intimately connected to their mothers while in the womb. Upon birth they are thrust into a strange, new world where they are often placed in their own rooms to sleep alone. On a psychological and emotional level this could be very troubling for baby. Carrying the baby for much of the day, so that it is next to your body and able to smell your scent, allows it to feel safe and loved. This may help reduce crying that is due to fear.

Many parents have also found the ritual of swaddling their babies helpful. Swaddling can help a baby feel secure and more at peace.

Although these solutions may not be the remedy for every colicky baby, they have helped many a family regain some sanity and rest. Unfortunately, despite all your best efforts, nothing will work to soothe your baby in some cases. When this happens, keep in mind that colic is a temporary condition and symptoms should dissipate between 4 and 6 months.



¹ Galland, Leo, Dr. Superimmunity for Kids. New York, New York: Dell Publishing, 1988.

² Savino, F et al. Lactobacillus reuteri (American Type Culture Collection Strain 55730) Versus Simethicone in the Treatment of Infantile Colic: A Prospective Randomized Study. Peditrics, Jan 2007; 119:e124-130.

By Lilian Presti| September 26, 2008
Categories:  Nest

About the Author

Lilian Presti

Lilian Presti

Lilian is a registered holistic nutritionist who has worked in the nutrition and corporate wellness fields for the over a decade. She teaches pediatric nutrition, delivers corporate and public nutrition seminars, runs a weight-loss program, does one-on-one nutritional counseling and writes on nutrition and wellness topics. Since having her son Noa, Lilian has taken a keen interest in educating mom’s to be and new parents about proper nutrition during these special periods. Lilian has been featured in Elle Magazine, Flare, Today’s Bride and The Weekly Scoop, MSN/Sympatico’s Weight Loss Challenge and appeared on City TV.

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