Colic is an acute abdominal pain. It is abrupt and usually starts in the evening. The endless crying spells of the baby force parents to call the pediatrician to find a solution. Take a heart because colic pain is a temporary episode and it should not last beyond 6 weeks.  There are many things that you can do to relieve colic pain. 

Colic pain is caused by a spasm of intestines. It usually starts by the time the infant is about two or three weeks old and can go on till she is three or four months of age. An interesting observation is that babies with bigger appetite suffer from colic pain. Also, it has been observed that babies with colic pain gain weight probably due to overfeeding which results in stomach pain. A colicky baby cries for long hours and exhausts herself. She generally cries during the same time daily.

Symptoms of colic

Suspect colic if your baby clenches her fingers, pulls her legs together towards the abdomen arches her back, becomes flushed, and passes wind as she cries. During relentless crying, the baby swallows air which can make her extra gassy. She may feel relieved after passing gas or having a bowel movement. Guided by this new-found wisdom, a few new parents at times apply soap to the anus of the baby for prompting a bowel movement. It is a strict NO.

Colic is usually not a reason to worry. It starts around 6 weeks and improves between 3 to 4 months. By 4 months of age, most infants get over it.

When to get alarmed?

But, if the baby is showing symptoms like fever, vomiting, or bloody stools – call the doctor immediately. These symptoms are not due to colic

What causes colic?

Though the exact cause is not known, there are a few conditions that might put babies at an increased risk of colic.

  • Babies born to mothers who had smoked during pregnancy are at increased risk of colic, but this risk can be reduced if the baby is breastfed.
  • An imbalance in the gut bacteria could cause colic
  • Colicky babies might have an imbalance of the brain chemicals melatonin and serotonin and it can cause contraction of intestinal muscles.

How to relieve colic pain?

Air bubbles trapped in the baby’s intestines will make her colicky. You should necessarily burp the baby after every feed. Put her on your shoulders and gently massage her back till she burps.  Other measures include – 

  • Giving gripe water to a colicky baby but if the infant is less than six months you should first check with your pediatrician.
  • For a colicky baby, a warm oil massage on the abdomen in the clockwise motion helps expel the trapped wind.
  • You can also exercise the baby by gently pushing the legs towards the chest. This would help release the trapped wind.
  • Try wrapping a warm towel around the baby’s tummy, but first, check the temperature of the towel against your cheek. It will soothe the pain.
  • Applying asafetida (Hing) mixed with water around the baby’s navel helps. So does basil paste.
  • Offer a pacifier to the baby. Babies have a strong sucking reflex and it seems to soothe the baby.
  • You can try swaddling the baby or laying her on the side.

Caution to breastfeeding mothers

According to Ayurveda, it’s the aggravation of Vayu and constipation that cause the colic pain. Medicines don’t often help much in the case of colic. So it’s better to take care of what goes inside the baby via her mom.

  1. Avoid too much raw food
  2. Limit foods consumed straight out of the fridge
  3. Cut down on dairy products for a few days.  If there has been no change for the better in your baby, you can start re-eating dairy products. However, introduce it gradually.
  4. Say a strict NO to soft and hard drinks. Also, avoid chocolate, coffee, tea, and energy as all of these contain caffeine and, when you have a significant amount of it, your baby could get colic as a result. A few moms have noticed instant changes to their baby’s daily behavior after giving up caffeine
  5. Reduce the intake of wheat, corn, peanuts, and soy
  6. Completely avoid gassy foods including kidney beans, broccoli, onions, sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage as it can cause significant discomfort in the belly

What should mothers eat?

  • Include more of seasonal fruits and veggies that encourage a healthy gut. It can help prevent symptoms of colic. These foods are apples, pears, asparagus, carrot, celery, corn, bananas, papaya, beetroot, pumpkin, zucchini, mushrooms, herbal teas and apple cider vinegar
  • Eat well cooked warm and nourishing foods
  • Have slow-cooked foods like soups and stews
  • Mothers can have fennel seeds (saunf) and carom seeds (ajwain) tea. They are known for their gas-relieving properties.

Colic can take its toll on new parents. It’s heart-wrenching to hold that wailing package in your arms. Don’t despair, this is just a phase because colic normally ends by the time the baby is 4-months-old.