In a recent blog post I wrote about using Homeopathy to treat crying babies with reflux and this time I am concentrating on the issue of colic and how Homeopathy can help.
Colic and Reflux can be often be confused for each other by both parents (and websites!) so if you want some more information on Reflux, what it is, and how Homeopathy treats it, read my previous article: Crying babies, Homeopathy and Reflux. This article looks at infant colic and what steps you can take to help both your baby and yourself.
What is Colic?
Colic is a term given to babies who fuss and cry for no apparent reason and are often hard to get into an established routine. All babies cry on average for 2.5 hours in any 24 hour period but babies with colic will look uncomfortable when they are crying, and may exhibit symptoms such as drawing their legs up. While we don’t know exactly why come babies suffer from colic, it is thought to be due to an immature digestive system and sometimes theirdevelopingnervous system may also bea causal factor.
What about YOU?
So firstly, let’s concentrate a moment on you. Being the parent of a baby with severe colic is exhausting. Their cries tug at your heart strings and as their parent you feel that you should be able to help them. So what can you do to adjust to this thorny problem? As The Homeopathic Coach I recommend a special 5 step approach for parents whose baby has colic:
- Get your baby examined by a doctor who is skilled in physical examination of small babies. This rules out any serious underlying issues which allows you to stop worrying there is something seriously wrong, and relax into coping with the situation you are faced with.
- Acknowledgeyour baby has colic to yourself, family and friends. Once you have verbalised this problem you can start to accept it rather than hoping it will be gone tomorrow. This is turn allows you to be calmer and more effective when you take steps to address it. Acceptance rather than resistence is always helpful.
- Plan around the crying periods. Some babies with severe colic cry all the time but if that is not the case, try to refuse all invitations to socialise when your baby is normally screaming. Having to cope with a crying baby in public with well-meaning advice being flung at you can be extremely hard. Remember it won’t go on forever and social outcasts you will not be!
- Read up about Reflux. It is important to eliminate this from the situation as a causation. Read my Reflux article and check if your baby has any of the signs of silent reflux such as regurgitating food into the back of the mouth and swallowing. Treat accordingly.
- Remember that this situation is temporary. All things that are difficult pass eventually. Colic is usually only seen in infants under 6 months and often starts around 3-6 weeks. usually however most cases are resolved by 4 months so except in some unusual cases it is very likely your baby will be fine very soon. And if you use homeopathy to treat your baby, they will be fine much sooner:)
Colic and Diet
There are many things in your diet that can upset a sensitive baby if you are breastdfeeding. All babies have immature and sensitive digestive systems and it is vital that they get the time and space to mature without being overwhelmed. If your own gut has been a problem it is likely that your baby can inherit a gut that is out of balance from you. This is not based on genetics but rather on the fact that your breastmilk serves to populate the baby’s gut with important gut flora and you can only supply the balance that you have yourself!
Probiotics and Antibiotics:
Give your baby an infant probiotic and if you are breastfeeding take one yourself. 80% of the immunitycomes from the gut so ensuring there is balance in the gut is doing your baby a great favour! If your baby has had antibiotics and/or you have taken them while pregnant or breastfeeding ,this step is even more important. If you want to understand more about the importance of the gut ad how to look after it, find out more in “Is Your Gut Your Problem” and the follow on article “Your Homeopathic Gut Toolkit“.
It seems that although lactose intolerance is a bit of a buzz word currently, it is often an important factor to consider with a colicky baby. Dietary causes for colic are easy to determine, especially if you are breastfeeding.To find if this is the case remove the item from your diet for7 days and if there is an improvement put it back into see if the colic gets worse again.If you are bottle feeding try changing the formula to a cow’s milkfree one and see what happens.
Foods to try avoiding:
There are several known foods that are potentialy irritants for sensitive babies’ digestive systems, and it is well worth eliminating these from your diet. If your baby’s colic is severeI would take them all out in one go and after 10 days add one in for a few days to see what happens. It often can take up to 72 hours for a reaction to occur so you will need to keep a food diary just so you can be clear what is causing what! Insome cases diet does not solve the issue but if you are breastfeeding and this short term deprivation makes a difference, it’s a small price to pay! The list of main ‘culprits’ is as follows: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower alcohol and excessive sugar citrus fruit grapes caffeine dairy products spicy food and garlic
Some babies have a really sensitive nervous system and what seems to be colic is in fact an over stimulated baby who cannot calm themselves. These babies may benefit hugely from a treatment with a cranial osteopath who is trained in infants and in my next article in this series we will explore this option some more. If you suspect your baby has got over-wrought and is tired but cannot settle, just wrapping them firmly, putting onsome soothing music and walking away for a while can be enough for your baby to drop into a calmer state and then get themselves to sleep. The stimulation of being carried around by an understandably uptight parent can be the opposite of what these babies need.
Homeopathic medicines for treating your baby
Chamomilla 30: This is the medicine for a colicky baby who appears to be intensely irritable and angry in their distress. Theywill insist on being carried around which sooothes them a little but they will get some relief from something warm being placed on their tummy. The tummy will be distended and they will pass small amounts of wind. If your baby is also teething at the same time try this medicine first.
Colocynthis 30: If your baby is relieved by having firm presure on their tummy by laying them over your knee or over your shoulder, use this medicine. This baby will writhe in painbut will get some relif from passing wind or from the firm pressure.
Nux Vomica 30: If your baby’s tummy appears tight and there are seemingly spasms of pain with constipation also, give this medicine.
Natrum Phos 3X tissue salt helps neutralise acids and aids digestion. Give this 3 times a day to your baby for 4-6 weeks and if results are encouraging, continue until all symptoms are resolved.
Magnesium Phos 3X is another tissue salt that helps with cramps, spasm and pain. It works best when administered in warm water and can be given at the same time as the Natrum Phos 3X
Aethusia 30:This is the ideal homeopathic medicine for those babies who cannot tolerate breastmilk and have vomiting, regurgitation and/or silent reflux. Give this medicine twice a day until symptoms improve.
Lycopodium 30: Use this medicine if your baby is worse between 4-8pm and sometimes also at 2AM. Flatulence and gurgling tummy with bloating may also be present. Your baby will be better lying on the right side.
Silicea 30: For babies who reject the breast and who vomit up breastmilk as curds after feeding and are hungry after. They cannot digest it. Give Silicea to the breastfeeding MOTHER (rather than the baby) twice day.
Kali Carb 30: Symptoms worse between 2-4am and after eating. Chronic painwhich is better for motion, hot drinks and bending forward.
Bryonia 30: Acute attacks of pain worse for the slightest motion accompanied by great thirst. Baby will draw legs up and burp. The tongue may be coated dirty white or brown in centre.
How to prescribe
You will find that several medicines recommended for reflux are also recommended for colic. This is because both states cause the baby to exhibit some similar symptoms as they are both related to the gut. Homeopathy as you know, prescribes on symtoms in each individual case rather than diagnsoses such as ‘colic’ or ‘reflux’. If your baby has colic, give the Natrum Phos and Magnesium Phos tissue salts as a matter of course. Then examine the descriptions of the homeopathic medicines above and choose the medicine that fits your baby’s symptoms closely. Use that medicine in addition to the tissue salts for 2-3 days and if you observe an improvement continue. If there is no imrpovement, keep using the tissue salts and then select the next closest medicine and try again.
Happy Homeopathic prescribing 🙂