Categories: Diseases and Conditions

Colic in Babies: Home Remedies to Calm a Fussy Baby

It is heart-wrenching to see your little bundle of joy cry incessantly for hours together. You can see no apparent reason as to why they are crying, even after you have fed them and changed their clothes and diapers.

Natural ways to soothe your colicky baby

If your baby has been crying for more than 3 hours a day or 3 days a week, then they might be suffering from abdominal colic.

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Colic in babies is a condition that makes them cry intermittently without any obvious reason. The bout of crying may last for a few hours for 3 days a week for more than three weeks.

Causes of Colic in Babies

  • A developing digestive system with muscles that frequently spasm.
  • Newborns have a mechanism to tune out sights and sounds around them. Near the end of the first month, this mechanism gets withdrawn, making the infants more sensitive to their environment, which makes them overwhelmed sometimes. They cry to release the stress and manage the overstimulation.
  • Acid reflux in infants with gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) is a colic trigger sometimes. This can happen as the infant’s lower esophageal sphincter is still underdeveloped.
  • Allergy to certain foods.
  • Infant’s exposure to smoking or tobacco during pregnancy.

Symptoms of Colic in Babies

  • Recurring crying bouts every day at the same time.
  • No obvious reasons for crying.
  • The baby may clench their fists, pull up their legs, and move their hands and legs more.
  • Furrowed brows and closed eyes or wide opened eyes.
  • The eating and sleeping cycle of the baby is disturbed.

What Can You Do to Soothe your Crying Baby?

  • Make or play some soothing sounds such as the rhythmic heartbeat or gentle whooshing sounds they heard in the womb.
  • Some babies need less stimulation and need to be quiet, still, and in a dark room, and some of them are comforted by activity, motion, and noise.
  • Take a stroll with your baby in a carrier.
  • Change their laying position if they have been stuck to one position.
  • Wrap your baby snugly in a blanket as this gives them the feeling of how they were in the womb, making them more at peace.
  • Make sure your baby doesn’t roll on their stomach and wind up face down while asleep.
  • Give them a warm bath as this can distract them from disturbances in their body and relax them.
  • Sucking is soothing for colicky babies and that’s the reason they might look like they want to eat all the time even though they aren’t hungry. A pacifier may help them to suck on and relax.
Note: Consult your healthcare provider before trying the following home remedies to relieve your colicky little one.

Method 1: Babies’ Magic Tea

Babies’ Magic Tea is an all-natural solution to your colicky baby. It has no sugar, alcohol, artificial chemicals, or flavors and is 100% vegan.

It contains Iranian cumin that aids digestion, cures bloating, and eases the pain associated with colic. (1) It also contains sanitized organic Florence fennel, which contains fiber that prevents constipation and promotes bowel movement regularity for a healthy digestive tract.

Another ingredient is Roman chamomile, which relieves restlessness in infants instantly. (2)

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Single-Step Treatment: Feed Babies’ Magic Tea to your baby or drink it

Prepare the baby magic tea and give it to your child
  • Put 1 tea bag of Babies’ Magic Tea in 8 ounces of boiling water and boil for 2 minutes.
  • Remove the tea bag and allow it cool off a little.
  • Give this tea to your baby beginning with 3 to 4 servings per day, and when the baby feels better, feed the tea twice a day to avoid a colic relapse.
  • Breastfeeding mothers can drink 8 ounces of Babies’ Magic Tea four times a day, 2 to 3 hours before breastfeeding.

Method 2: Gripe Water

Gripe water is a herbal solution to treat colic in babies. It contains fennel, lemon balm, licorice, chamomile, cinnamon, and ginger. (2)(3)(4)

All the herbs in gripe water help ease flatulence, constipation, bloating, and muscle spasms, relieving your colicky baby. (5)

Make sure you are buying gripe water specifically for babies, as many brands of gripe water contain ingredients such as sodium bicarbonate and peppermint that can worsen your baby’s reflux signs.

Avoid gripe water that contains gluten, vegetable carbon, parabens, and dairy.

Single-Step Treatment: Feed your baby with gripe water

You may add gripe water to your baby's food, milk or even directly give it to them
  • ½ teaspoon of gripe water three times a day to babies 0 to 1 month old.
  • 1 teaspoon of gripe water three times a day to babies between 1 month and 6 months of age.
  • 2 teaspoons of gripe water three times a day for babies between 6 months and 1 year of age.
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons of gripe water three times a day for babies who are 1 year and above in age.
  • Read the instructions on the product cover for the recommended dosages for babies.
  • You can mix gripe water in your baby’s food or breast milk. However, for maximum benefit, it is better to feed gripe water directly to your baby.
Caution: Discontinue use if you suspect an allergic reaction and contact your doctor.

Method 3: Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea has been used for various human ailments such as inflammation, muscle spasms, and gastrointestinal disorders since ancient times. (5)

The dried petals of chamomile flower contain terpenoids and flavonoids that contribute to its medicinal properties.

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It also contains various volatile oils and other therapeutic substances that relax the abdominal muscles, treat gastritis, and heal ulcerative colitis.

Single-Step Treatment: Feed chamomile tea to your baby or drink it yourself

Make your child sip on a few teaspoons of chamomile tea
  • Put one chamomile tea bag in 1 cup of hot water and allow it to steep for 3 minutes.
  • You can steep it for not more than 5 minutes if you prefer a strong tea flavor.
  • Remove the tea bag.
  • Drink 2 to 3 cups of chamomile tea 2 to 3 hours before you breastfeed, or feed your baby not more than 2 ounces of chamomile tea.
Note: Be careful with the amount of chamomile tea you feed your baby with.

Method 4: Fennel

It is common practice in the Indian subcontinent to use fennel seed or cumin seed water when it comes to stomach issues. A small handful of fennel seeds are chewed on after a meal as it is believed to aid digestion and help with mouth odor. (6)(3)(5)

The essential oils present in fennel seeds stimulate the secretion of digestive and gastric fluids and reduce the inflammation in the digestive tract, facilitating proper absorption of nutrients from the food.

Its anti-acidic and antiflatulence properties help expel excess gas from the stomach and treat constipation.

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Single-Step Treatment: Steep fennel seeds in warm water and feed the baby

Feed about a teaspoon of fennel tea to your baby for colic relief
  • Drop 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds into 1 glass of hot water and allow the seeds to steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Cover the glass with a lid while steeping.
  • Strain the water using a sieve and feed it to your baby.
  • For babies (toddlers and children), feed ½ to 1 teaspoon of fennel tea two to three times a day. Breastfeeding mothers may also consume a cup of this tea twice daily.

Do this daily once until the colic is relieved.

Method 5: Olive Oil

Olive oil is high in the fatty acid called the oleic acid that can strengthen your baby’s skin barrier.

Regularly massaging your baby with olive oil maintains healthy bones and makes the baby’s muscles strong. A few gentle circular motion massages on the baby’s tummy will help relieve bloating, flatulence, and constipation. (7)(8)

Single-Step Treatment: Massage the baby’s tummy with olive oil

Gently massage your baby's abdomen with olive oil
  • Warm some olive oil and rub some in your hands.
  • Gently massage the baby’s tummy in clockwise circles.
  • Massage the pelvis, feet, and hands as well.
  • After the massage, give your baby a warm bath and put them to sleep.

Do this once every day.

Method 6: Probiotics

The first ingestion of friendly digestive bacteria in a baby occurs while passing through the birthing canal.

However, a baby might need assistance in maintaining the levels of these friendly bacteria. The probiotics that occur naturally in breast milk keep the babies stomach healthy. (9)

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In a colicky baby, the probiotic in breast milk might not be enough to maintain the gut flora. Feeding yogurt to your baby can solve this problem. The good bacteria called lactobacillus acidophilus in yogurt help cure abdominal colic in infants.

Single-Step Treatment: Feed yogurt to your baby

Add probiotic to your baby's diet
  • Feed your baby 1 teaspoon of yogurt daily.

Do this daily until the abdominal colic clears off.

Method 7: Aloe Vera

Aloe vera gel is known to be an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. Drinking aloe vera juice every day is believed to cure constipation, flatulence, acidity, and various other gut problems. It is consumed to detoxify the body of all the unnecessary waste. (10)

Feeding your baby aloe vera juice can help reduce the irritation and inflammation caused by gas and acidity, relieving a colicky baby.

Single-Step Treatment: Feed aloe vera gel to your baby

Soothe a colicky baby suffering from digestive disorders with aloe vera
  • Extract 1 tablespoon of fresh aloe vera gel and blend it with a glass of water.
  • Feed 1 teaspoon of this solution to your baby once a day until the colic symptoms dial down.
Note: Do not feed aloe vera juice to infants younger than 2 months.

Tips to keep in mind

  • Do not give gripe water to infants younger than 1 month, as their digestive tract is still developing and is very sensitive.
  • Consult a doctor before giving gripe water to your baby, as dosages may vary depending on the baby’s age.
  • Do not use strong chamomile tea if you are directly giving it to your baby instead of drinking it yourself.

Resources:

  1. Johri RK. Cuminum cyminum and Carum carvi: An update. Pharmacognosy reviews. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210012/. Published 2011.
  2. Savino F, Ceratto S, De Marco A, Cordero di Montezemolo L. Looking for new treatments of Infantile Colic. Italian journal of pediatrics. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4050441/. Published June 5, 2014.
  3. Attarha M, Rosbahani N, Yosefi P. EFFECT OF FENNEL ESSENCE AND GRIPE WATER SYRUP ON INFANTILE COLIC. Archives of Disease in Childhood. https://adc.bmj.com/content/93/Suppl_2/pw387. Published 2008.
  4. Roberts DM, Ostapchuk M, O'Brien JG. Infantile Colic. American Family Physician. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2004/0815/p735.html. Published August 15, 2004.
  5. Gardiner P. Complementary, Holistic, and Integrative Medicine. Pediatrics in Review. https://pedsinreview.aappublications.org/content/28/4/e16?sso=1&sso_redirect_count=1&nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR: No local token. Published April 1, 2007.
  6. I A, E K, T S. Department of Pediatrics, St. Petersburg Medical Academy of Postdoctoral Education, St. Petersburg, Kirochnaya, Russia. Alternative therapies in health and medicine. http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/12868253. Published July 1, 2003.
  7. Icke S, Genc R. Effect of Reflexology on Infantile Colic. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/acm.2017.0315. Published June 1, 2018.
  8. Sheidaei A, Abadi A, Zayeri F, Nahidi F, Gazerani N, Mansouri A. The effectiveness of massage therapy in the treatment of infantile colic symptoms: A randomized controlled trial. Medical journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4934450/. Published April 9, 2016.
  9. Chau K, Lau E, Greenberg S, et al. Probiotics for infantile colic: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial investigating Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938. The Journal of pediatrics. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25444531. Published January 2015.
  10. Foster M. Evaluation of the Nutritional and Metabolic Effects of Aloe vera. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92765/. Published 2011.
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Published by
Misty Hammond, RN, MSN, APRN, NP-C

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