If you’re looking for natural colic remedies, you’ve come to the right place!
While the newborn phase is filled with tons of excitement and joy, it is often coupled with a lot of tears from both mom and baby as well. Everything is new and unfamiliar, no one is sleeping, and your hormones are all over the place. Throw in a bout of colic, and you’ve got yourself some serious overwhelm!
Thankfully, many parents have walked the walk before you, and the internet is full of helpful tips, tricks, and products to help alleviate colic. Keep reading for our favorite tried and tested natural colic remedies to help bring you and your babe back to a place of zen.
What Is Colic?
Colic is a term used to describe excessive crying in infants. While all babies cry as a way to communicate their needs, about 1 in 5 will cry incessantly for no apparent reason. These babies can (and will!) cry for hours at a time, and nothing seems to calm them down. Doctors typically use a ‘rule of 3’ approach to diagnose colic: if an otherwise healthy baby cries for 3+ hours a day, 3 or more times a week, for 3 weeks or longer, colic is often suspected.
Colic typically starts 2-3 weeks after birth, peaks at the 6-8 week mark, and disappears at 3-4 months of age. It usually comes on suddenly, and crying spells often occur from 6 pm onwards, which can be especially difficult for new parents who are already exhausted.
What Are The Signs of Colic?
As mentioned above, colic is usually defined as crying for 3+ hours a day, 3 or more times a week, for 3 weeks or longer, but there are some other signs to look for, such as:
- Sudden onset of high-pitched crying
- Crying for no reason (i.e. hunger, soiled diaper, etc.)
- Predictable crying spells (i.e. every evening)
- Enlarged stomach
- Excess gas
- Signs of discomfort/tension, such extending/pulling up the legs, stiff arms, clenched fists, etc.
4 Possible Causes of Colic
While the exact cause of colic remains a mystery, there are many theories, including:
Many babies who suffer from colic have enlarged stomachs and pass a lot of gas, which has led researchers to believe gas may be the culprit. Others have suggested colic may be the result of an underdeveloped digestive system, an imbalance in healthy gut bacteria, acid reflux, or an intolerance to lactose and other foods passed from mother to baby through breast milk.
Some researchers believe colic is a result of either underfeeding or overfeeding a baby. Infrequent and/or insufficient burping may also be to blame.
Colic may be in response to overstimulation as babies take in and adjust to all of the unfamiliar sights, sounds, smells, etc. around them.
Anxiety and chemical imbalances
Some theorize that colic is an expression of anxiety, and research has suggested colicky babies may have an imbalance of serotonin (which cause the intestinal muscles to contract) and melatonin (which relaxes the intestinal muscles).
When Should I Worry About Colic?
Even if your newborn is showing classic symptoms of colic, it’s imperative you consult with a medical professional to be sure his or her incessant crying isn’t the result of something else. For example, acid reflux, constipation, and food intolerances can led to discomfort and cause a baby to cry for prolonged periods of time, and each of these are easily treated. Be sure to speak to your paediatrician to rule out any other medical conditions before trying the natural colic remedies below!
9 Natural Colic Remedies
1. Hold your baby close
If you’re looking for natural colic remedies, holding your baby close to your body is a great one to start with. Some researchers theorize that holding your baby for longer periods of time at the beginning of the day can help ease nighttime colic, and others suggest you take deep, calming breaths while holding your baby to provide a sense of calm. If you find it difficult to hold you baby for prolonged periods of time, consider investing in a baby carrier such as the Boba Baby Wrap or the Ergobaby Newborn Carrier.
2. Keep your baby upright after feeding
Instead of laying your baby on his or her back after a feeding, make sure to keep him or her upright to prevent acid reflux, which can make colic worse.
3. Use a swaddle
Swaddling offers a lot of benefits for babies, one of which is a reduction in colic. Swaddling recreates the warm, cozy feeling babies experienced in the womb while also applying light pressure to their bellies, which can help alleviate colic. There are lots of great tutorials on YouTube that will teach you how to swaddle your baby with a swaddle blanket, and if you can’t seem to get the hang of it, there are lots of adjustable swaddle blankets you can buy on Amazon. We had the most luck with the Miracle Blanket and I’ve gifted these to many of my friends!
4. Make dietary changes (if breastfeeding)
If you’re a breastfeeding mama looking for natural colic remedies, you may consider removing certain foods from your diet, including dairy, eggs, soy, wheat, and caffeine. You can either remove them all at once for a period of time, and then reintroduce them one at a time to gauge how your baby reacts to each food. Or, you can remove one at a time and monitor if the removal of one (or many) makes a difference if your child’s colic symptoms. Just be sure to check with your doctor before doing this as cutting out major food groups presents other risks, and you want to be sure you are supplying essential nutrients to you and your baby.
5. Switch to a different formula
If you’re a bottle-feeding mama looking for natural colic remedies, talk to your doctor about switching to a different brand of formula that uses a different source of protein to see if that helps.
6. Experiment with different bottles
Another important tip for bottle-feeding mamas is that not all bottles are created equal, and what works for one baby won’t necessarily work for another. After an unfortunate incident with the bottle that came with our breast pump (which resulted in 48 hours of uncomfortable gas for my sweet girl), we had a lot of luck with both Dr. Brown’s bottles and Philips Avent bottles, but do your research and give a few a try to see what works best for your babe!
7. Increase tummy time (and add a back rub)
Tummy time isn’t just good for helping your baby strengthen his or her neck and shoulder muscles. It can help calm a colicky baby too! Laying your newborn on his or her tummy while simultaneously rubbing his or her back can also help your little one pass gas.
Bouncing, rocking, walking, and any other form of movement (including stroller walks and car rides) are another idea to try if you’re looking for natural colic remedies. Many moms find that bouncing on an exercise ball while holding their baby close helps calm bouts of colic, while others have luck with things like baby swings and bouncy chairs.
9. Make it noisy
I did a ton of research on natural colic remedies when my daughter was a newborn, and had varying levels of success with each of them, but the one thing that helped most was noise. When my daughter would erupt into her evening routine of incessant, inconsolable crying, I would hold her tight to me and employ the help of either our oven fan, my hair dryer, or our vacuum while gently rocking her back and forth. The noise almost always soothed her and helped her to calm down. White noise machines can also help, but be sure to speak with your pediatrician to ensure the noises you are using aren’t too loud and won’t cause permanent hearing loss for your newborn.
If you’re looking for natural colic remedies, I hope the tips and ideas in this post prove useful to you! Be sure to be speak with your pediatrician to rule out any other medical issues that may be causing your baby discomfort, and remember that colic doesn’t last forever. Reach out to friends and family for help and support when you feel overwhelmed and remind yourself often that this, too, shall pass!