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Colic - How to treat it and when to seek medical help

Posted on March 1, 2017 at 7:25 AM

Most babies will cry an average of 1.5 to 2 hours per day, but babies with colic cry more than 3 hours per day for 3 or more days per week. Colic usually happens between 3 weeks and 3 months old - all of these 3’s are considered the “rule of 3’s” for colic. True colic affects about 1 in 6 babies.


A colic cry is high-pitched, intense, and not relieved by normal measures (feeding, changing the diaper, or holding your baby).


Colic is thought to be caused by gas bubbles trapped in the intestines. It is also affected by a few things:

- Temperament; some babies are naturally fussier and cry more than others

- Allergies; babies with a true milk allergy or other food allergies tend to have more colic symptoms

- The emotions around the baby; babies who are under stress from a lot of charged emotions in the house tend to get more colic

- Infrequent feedings; babies who eat every 2 hours are less likely to get colic than those who eat every 3 hours


Ways colic can be treated:

- Physical therapy moves: bicycle legs, tummy rubs, tummy time, and back rubs can all help

- Medicines: simethicone is a medicine that is very safe because it’s not absorbed into the bloodstream, it simply breaks up large gas bubbles in the intestines into smaller ones that can pass through easier and with less pain

- Herbal remedies: mint, chamomile, fennel, and licorice tea, 2-4 oz per day at most (given a few sips at a time throughout the day)

- A warm (not hot!) water bottle on your baby’s tummy

- Slow rocking motions (in your lap in a glider, in an infant swing, a ride in the car, a walk in the stroller, etc.)

- A chiropractic adjustment; be sure the chiropractor is ICPA (international chiropractic pediatric certification) certified! You can check to find a certified pediatric chiropractor near you.

- Homeopathic remedies; check with a homeopath to choose the right remedy for your baby


Remedies that have not been proven to help colic, and might even make your baby worse:

- Gripe water; since it’s not FDA regulated, each formulation of gripe water is different, and some contain alcohol or other poisons. Check with your doctor before giving gripe water to your baby.

- Changing formula; this can actually upset your baby’s tummy more

- Sedative medications, antihistamines; these are dangerous in babies as they can suppress your baby’s breathing


When to see the doctor for colic:

- When your baby cries for more than 3 hours every day

- When your baby is having trouble eating, or has diarrhea or weight loss

- When colic symptoms happen before 2 weeks of age, or after 3 months of age

- When your baby has projectile vomiting (shoots more than 2 feet away) and is hungry after vomiting



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