Abdominal pain, distention, restlessness, insomnia, and crying in infants are all signs of colic. Babies are said to be suffering from colic when they are crying (even screaming), irritable, drawing up their legs, suggesting pain in the abdomen. The baby may be red in the face and may pass gas. Symptoms usually worsen at night.
What is Infantile Colic?
From Modern Western Medicine
Infant colic usually begins around the third and fourth week of life and clears up spontaneously by the 12th week. It is thought to be due to spasm in the intestines, although there is no proof of this, and the cause of the spasm is unknown.
From Traditional Medicine
Infant colic occurs when an infant’s digestive system is not able to fully assimilate and eliminate the food being fed to the baby, whether it is mother’s milk or formula. In the case of breast-fed babies, the mother’s diet is the most important factor. (See Foods to Eat and Avoid below.)
Formula-fed babies may be allergic to milk, wheat, soy, or sugar. In such cases, vitamin- and mineral-enriched goat’s milk may be a better alternative. Carefully monitor all foods being fed to the baby or the foods consumed by the mother. After weaning, examine the foods being fed to the baby in the same way. Certain foods promote intestinal disorders more than others. (See below.)
Who Gets Colic?
Infant colic is common, occurring in approximately one in 10 babies.
Foods to Eat
- Breast feed whenever possible; mothers should monitor their diets
- When breast feeding is not possible, enriched goat’s milk should be the choice
- After weaning, introduce new food one at a time
For babies who have been weaned (after six months):
- Feed very wet (watery), soft grain that has been ground up and had the fiber removed by a food mill (such as a Fowley food mill)
- Sweet vegetable broths, such as carrots, squash, parsnips, and sweet potato, milled to be made soft
- Cooked fruit, milled to be soft
Foods to Avoid (for Baby and Mother)
- Brussels sprouts
- Fried foods
- Refined foods, such as sugar, white flour products, and foods containing artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
- Cow’s milk and other dairy products
- Formulas containing milk, wheat, soy, or sugar
- Harsh and hot spices
- Carbonated beverages
Herbs to Treat Colic
The best way to treat nursing babies with herbs is to treat the mother. Any herb consumed by the mother will go directly to her milk and on to the baby. The mother should drink the herb as a tea for rapid assimilation into her blood and breast milk.
Make a tea with a combination of equal parts chamomile, fennel, and lemon balm. If the mother is not nursing, a plastic eyedropper can be used to administer mild herbal tea. Squeeze a dropperful of the tea into the baby’s mouth several times throughout the day.
Wild yam root (as an herbal tincture) works rapidly in acute infant colic. The dose is 7 to 14 drops of tincture in water every ½ hour for 1 to 2 hours.
- Take the baby for a ride in the car
- Place a warm washcloth on the baby’s stomach
- Place the baby on their stomach and rub their belly
- Rock the baby in a rocking chair
- Carry your baby in a front sling