There are plenty of places to go for colic information, which tell you all about the probable reasons for colic, how to diagnose colic and some of the ways you can deal with it. However, whilst there is plenty of information about colic on the internet, there is very little information on any sort of colic cure or treatment.
There is no certain cure for colic, which might not be what you want to hear, but there are certain treatments you can try that may bring some relief to both you and your baby. These can be categorised as either medicinal or non-medicinal, and both are discussed below.
Medicinal colic relief
Trials of medicinal colic relief products has brought mixed results. Some parents have found they help greatly, although as colic usually stops by itself after a few weeks, it is difficult to prove that the relief was due to the medicine and not just because baby got better by themselves. Make sure you discuss your plans for treatment of colic with your GP or health visitor before administering medication to your baby, and ideally try to consider some of the non-medicinal remedies before adding anything to your baby’s body.
The main types of colic relief medicines in the UK are:
- Simeticone drops – supplements that you can add to your baby’s bottle before a feed. These are designed to release bubbles of trapped air in the baby’s tummy, so could be helpful if the colic is related to digestive issues.
- Lactase drops – an enzyme that breaks down lactose, a sugar found in milk, which could make the digestion of milk easier.
- Sodium bicarbonate – this is not normally used as a remedy on its own, but can sometimes be found in indigestion medicines. Studies have shown that this product can interfere with the levels of folic acid and iron in baby’s system, so products containing this should be avoided for use with children under 5.
- Gripe water – a variety of ingredients can be found in products with the blanket name of ‘gripe water’. Watch out for those with essential oils such as clove oil, fennel, ginger and dill as there could be side effects in small babies which are detrimental to their wellbeing.
- Dicyclerine – a medicine used to control stomach cramps, which in the past was often used to treat a colicky baby. However, it is now understood to bring a risk of a range of serious side effects, so is not recommended for use in infants under 6 months.
Non medicinal treatment
Choosing to not medicate your baby at this young age is probably a wise decision. There are lots of non-medicinal ways to try and bring some relief to a colicky baby, many of which will help the two of you to bond and get to know each other better too. Here are just a few of the things you can try:
- Massage – this can calm your baby (and you) and bring you closer together.
- Cuddles – holding your baby whilst they are crying can help them to calm themselves quicker, as can wrapping them snugly in a soft blanket.
- On demand feeding – there was a trend for rigorous feeding routines with infants a while ago, but now the pendulum has swung back the other way, and experts believe that feeding on demand and letting the baby set the pace can help reduce colic.
- Sucking – this can help to calm baby, whether on a dummy, a bottle or the breast.
- White noise – this has been proven to calm and relax a colicky baby, and well researched white noise soundtracks can sometimes stop the crying within a few seconds of being played.
- Movement – from rocking and being carried about to going for a stroll in a pushchair or out in the car, all forms of movement can help to calm and relax your baby.
- Bathing – after spending months in the warm amniotic fluid of the womb, relaxing in a warm bath can work wonders in calming and quietening a colicky baby.
It’s not your fault
Whatever you decide to try in order to bring some colic relief to your baby, you need to bear in mind that this is just a phase and it will pass. There may be nothing you can do to ease their distress, except to offer them love and comfort through the phase. It is important to remember that babies are just getting used to the outside world, and have newly developing senses, feelings and functions, so may not be able to cope with all the changes as well as we would like.