colic - any cures out there?

Specialties Pediatric


I have a seven week old grandson with a significant case of colic. He is breast fed. Mylicon drops don't phase him. Swaddling is out - just makes him scream louder. I've heard about catnip tea but he just spits it out. We got one of those motor things that attached to his bed springs to give the sensation of riding in a car. Loves it when his tummy isn't hurting - otherwise, it's useless. I'm open to suggestions.


1,112 Posts

Are they sure it is colic? What are the symptoms? Are they associated with timing of feeding? Are the parents keeping a diary? Is the child passing flatus? What is his posture? Reflux also? Is mom keeping a diary of her food and beverage intake?

I recently had exposure to a case of a infant from the time he was 2 weeks - 8 weeks old where all involved were sure the child had colic, nurses, doctors, parents, grandparents. It turned out the child had angina associated with the effort of feeding r/t a serious CHD. The tip off we missed should have been the facial diaphoresis (written off as related to exertion of crying). Instead the wake-up was the alarmingly elevated RR (74) after weeks of this due to progressively worsening CHF. I am not saying your granchild child could have something this serious, but it needs to be worked up. This situation I experienced really hit home with me the need to do a full assessment and not to assume incessant crying is colic.


7 Posts

It's very much associated with eating. You can actually hear the gas rumbling around in his stomach. Mom is keeping a diary and she already has picked up on several things that she has dropped from her diet - dairy products, esp. cheese, grits, spaghetti, etc. He has the typical colic posture with his legs drawn up, his tummy tight and pushing away from you. IF you cna get him to take a pacifier (easier with a little karo on it) and hold him close and wrap a blanket around him and rock he gets some relief.


76 Posts

Specializes in peds, office nurse and long term care fa.

When I worked in the nursery, we used warm blankets or warm water bottles on their bellies. There is nothing like a happy babe!:wink2:


184 Posts

Here's my experience for what it's worth ;)

My oldest had it BAD. I was on the blandest diet possible but he still had it. After 8 weeks of screaming and no sleep someone told me to make sure I was burbing him every 5 minutes or so. He was an aggressive nurser and must have gotten a lot of air that way ? that really did help him and by 12 weeks he was great. We also would put him on his back and "bicycled" his legs and it put the gas through to the other end LOL.

#2 didn't have it at all - so I figured that was it - WRONG :chuckle

#3 was the worst of all 4!! He had an allergy to my milk (more than likely lactose intollerant) so we suffered through 10 weeks of nursing then after much dismay I swithched to formula from regular to low iron then to lactose free then to soy then finally nutramigen (which we refered to "liquid gold" it was over $20 a can), but that one did the trick once he was on that he was fine... He was also around 12 weeks old by then and maybe it would have been better regardless who knows...

#4 didn't have it either ...

Good luck

Alley Cat

64 Posts

Specializes in Peds Critical Care, NICU, Burn.

My oldest daughter was colicky until I switched from breastfeeding to a soy formula after 6 weeks. She was having really BAD smelling explosive stools while I nursed her, didn't make any difference what I did or didn't eat, but you could time her crying; 30 minutes after I nursed, she'd start screaming and drawing up her legs, and nothing would work except for her daddy putting his pinky in her mouth and putting her across his lap. (I tried it, didn't have the same effect--she liked him better, I guess.) So when I finally switched, it was like flipping a lightswitch. Then we went from one extreme to the other; had to add Karo syrup to her bottles to "keep her regular". She STILL has constipation problems, we've been to counselors and everything BUT a GI specialist (can't get a referral--not enough symptoms). If she gets enough liquid, she's fine; but doesn't remember to drink since at school they're limited to sips at the water fountain and whatever they can guzzle at lunch. She doesn't like to drink a lot at one time, only takes one or two sips and comes back later for more. She eats fine, and is doing better at keeping track (she's now 9 yrs old), doesn't fight me if I remind her "have you gone lately". 2nd child fine. Hope things improve for you!


221 Posts

one of my children screamed for months.

To the ideas above I add, Keep helping to care for him. I could not have survived caring for this child alone. Hold him stomach down,cradled in your arms and swing and rock. colic often increases to age 12 weeks and then settles; it didn't in our case, but that child has grown into one of the coolest humans ever.


1,024 Posts

I did the bicycle legs thing and that worked for us...


839 Posts

catnip&fennel elixer in warm water with a teensy bit of sugar...

that's what mt mommy used for me...


324 Posts

1 and 4 both had colic big time. Take the baby in a warm tub with you. Run the vacuum cleaner under the crib. (Burnt up 2 of those buggers) But the baby in a seat on top of the washer. Tune the radio to static. Swaddle tightly. Drive around, keep a blanket and pillow in the car for you, when the baby falls asleep pull into the driveway and take a nap along with him. Dance around with the baby slung over your fore arm on his belly. Sit with the baby on your chest in a darkened room without any noise. It's funny, both my kids with colic would STILL have colic if they where infants now (they are 21 and 11). IMHO it's not the belly, it's the temperament. Good Luck.


177 Posts

This guy has some great ideas. Stuff we do lots of times anyway but he kind of puts it all together. We bought his video at work and have been showing it to new parents. I finally watched it a week or so ago and it's great! The babies would be SCREAMING, he would do his steps and they would just quit! Their little eyes would pop open and they would just look around. It's really cool.

"Happy baby doctor" calms colic crying

By Mike Falcon, Spotlight Health with medical adviser Stephen A. Shoop, M.D.

Why do celebrity parents like Madonna, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Pierce Brosnan appear so calm and rested in the first few months after their babies' birth - while other parents look like poster-children for sleep deprivation torture?

One answer may be Santa Monica pediatrician and celebrity advisor Dr. Harvey Karp and the techniques he describes in his best-selling book, The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Baby Sleep Longer.

Karp: "It's typical that both parents and the infant are exhausted."

"It's typical that both parents and the infant are exhausted," says Karp, "particularly in the first few months following birth."

Even the healthiest newborn can arrive with crying challenges that threaten the physical and emotional wellness of the most stable marriages.

"In our culture about 25% of babies cry for two or more hours a day," says Karp. Of those, 15% or so cry for three or more hours a day, which Karp says is the definition of colic. With approximately 4 million babies born each year in the USA, this means that about a million babies, their parents, siblings, and often neighbors, are disturbed by what appears to be inconsolable crying.

"Here a first time parent wants nothing more than to see their baby happy," says Karp, "but because the endless crying creates even more stress because the parents can't soothe the baby, the cycle of exhaustion and frustration continues."

According to the expert, a newborn with colic makes it more likely that the parents will increase their own stress levels, raise their blood pressure, and lower their own resistance and immune functions.

Compounding the problem, parents may blame themselves, think they're poor caretakers, or believe something is wrong with the infant. But Karp observes that is overwhelmingly not the case.

"Only about 2% of babies cry because they have something wrong with them, or are allergic to milk," says Karp.

The crying game

Why, then, do so many newborns cry incessantly?

Most babies grow out of crying at about three to four months, notes Karp. That corresponds to what he calls the "missing fourth trimester," the period during which the baby learns that its cries result in feeding, holding, or another change in environment.

In effect, humans are born too early. And the baby's cry, says Karp, is the adaptive survival mechanism it uses to get its mother's attention --- and it works. When caveman moms were gathering food or engaged in other tasks, it was the loud baby who received the attention, food, and protection most quickly.

Why, though, do some babies continue to cry for hours after their mothers feed and hold them?

According to Karp, while stomach, gas, and digestive "problems" are often seen as the principal motivators behind crying and colic, they are not usually the cause. Allergic digestive challenges, maternal stress thought by some to transfer anxiety to the infant, poor mother's milk, an immature brain, and inherent temperament are also frequently recounted as reasons behind a crying baby.

But while these definitely can affect the infant, when allergens were removed, foods examined, and temperament looked at more closely, there were still big differences between colic-plagued American infants and babies in other cultures who cry less vociferously and for shorter periods of time.

Relatively recent research into the Kalahari bushmen shows that "90% of their babies' crying end in less than a minute," reports Karp.

'Sssssleep' remedy

Karp says recreating the missing surety of the womb environment has a critical role in soothing the crying infant and reducing emotional distress in the first few months of life.

Using cross-cultural techniques combined with his own research, Karp has developed the "five S's system" that initiates and maximizes the infant's own built-in calming reflex:

Swaddling- Tight swaddling provides the continuous touching and support the fetus experiences within the womb.

Side/stomach position- The infant is placed on his left side to assist in digestion, or on his stomach to provide reassuring support. "But never use the stomach position for putting your baby to sleep," cautions Karp. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is linked to stomach-down sleep positions. When a baby is in a stomach-down position do not leave them-even for a moment.

Shushing sounds-- These imitate the continual whooshing sound made by the blood flowing through arteries near the womb.

Swinging- Newborns are used to the swinging motions within their mother's womb, so entering the gravity-driven world of the outside is like a sailor adapting to land after nine months at sea. "It's disorienting and unnatural," says Karp. Rocking, car rides, and other swinging movements all can help.

Sucking- "Sucking has its effects deep within the nervous system," notes Karp, "and triggers the calming reflex and releases natural chemicals within the brain."

Karp's Happiest Baby video provides the subtle and precise cues that make the process even more replicable, "so that people whose learning best involves visual processing have all the details right in front of them."

But can sleep for your baby actually be spelled with five S's?

Madonna, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Pierce Brosnan all think so. All have used and recommend Karp's techniques. And according to Karp, some emergency room physicians are using the five-step system before administering often painful tests on incessantly crying infants.

The book's continuing status as a best-seller speaks volumes.

"What we've needed for a very long time is something that works," says Karp. "What satisfies me endlessly is hearing parents who say they tried everything until they tried the five S's."

Mimi2RN, ASN, RN

1,142 Posts

Specializes in NICU.

In England we had Gripe Water, don't ask me what is in it. I saw some this week, sold in a store that specializes in baby stuff-made in this country. Lay him on a folded up warm blanket, across your knees. That sometimes helps.....

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