David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP
Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Colic facts
- What is colic?
- What are colic symptoms and signs in babies?
- What can be done to help with colic in babies?
- What can the doctor do to help a colicky baby? What is the treatment for colic in an infant?
- Find a local Pediatrician in your town
What can be done to help with colic in babies?
This is a very common problem (up to 25% of all babies suffer from colic). Discuss any concerns with the child's pediatrician and talk to other parents or relatives who have had similar experiences. Also keep in mind that colic generally occurs in big, healthy, active, vigorous babies who are great eaters and who grow very well. Sickly, poor-feeding, unhealthy babies or babies with significant underlying problems may well be cranky, miserable, and unhappy; however, these infants tend to be this way most of the time, whereas the baby with colic generally has episodes at a very predictable ("set your clock by the beginning and end") time of the day.
Here are some suggestions:
- Do not overfeed! Stick to the baby's regular feeding schedule of timing and amount of milk taken, as measured in ounces in the bottle-fed baby or in minutes on the breast in the breastfed baby.
- Breastfeeding mothers should avoid too many milk products ("you don't have to drink milk to make milk"), caffeine, onions, cabbage, beans, broccoli, and other gas-producing, irritating foods. Be sure that if the baby is taking juices, that they are very diluted, or just offer plain water. If babies are really thirsty, they will drink it.
- Avoid juices (young infants should not be drinking juice anyway).
- In the formula-fed baby, try changing to a formula containing whey hydrolysate (such as Good Start) or try a low-allergy formula (such as Nutramigen, Alimentum, or Pregestimil). Some research suggests that making these changes can result in a decrease in the number of episodes and duration of symptoms in some infants. It is worth the expense of a week's trial to see if the formula is at all contributing to the colic.
- Take a break! When the anxiety, fear, and tension get to be too much (or perhaps an hour before!), try to have someone else watch the baby, even for an hour, and leave the house. Try to keep a positive attitude.
- Try walking the baby in a front-pouch-style carrier with his legs drawn up and pressure off of his belly.
- Though there is no clear evidence that physical stimulation helps, many parents swear by it. Some babies seem to be soothed by rhythmic, steady movements, like rocking gently or by sounds, like running the vacuum, or having the clothes dryer within earshot. (Never leave a baby unattended near the dryer, as there is a serious risk of injury.)
- Wrap the baby firmly in a comfortable blanket ("swaddling").
- Medications, such as simethicone (Phazyme, Flatulex, Mylicon, Gas-X, Mylanta Gas), and other homeopathic treatments have not conclusively proven to be more effective than placebo (sugar pill) and should be avoided unless prescribed by the infant's medical provider. Hyoscyamine (Levsin), an antispasmodic medication used to treat adults with various intestinal ailments, has been associated with serious side effects in young infants.
- Be cautious with herbal remedies. Although there are some who recommend chamomile, fennel and others, there is little evidence that colic is cured with these treatments. Try to avoid using gripe water, unless recommended specifically by the pediatrician, because there are often unregulated ingredients (alcohol, etc.) that may be harmful to the infant.
- Recently, there have been some interesting results using certain probiotics (dietary supplements containing live bacteria or yeast and used to aid digestion). It is important to discuss these options with a health-care professional prior to using them.
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