Family Health Guide

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Colic: Complementary/Alternative Treatments

Natural remedies can sometimes ease colic, but as with traditional medications, these should only be tried after an in-depth discussion with your baby’s doctor. Allergies are possible with any herb or natural product, so if you, your baby, or someone else in the family has a history of them or of eczema, talk with your physician before using. If your child develops a rash or any other side effect, stop using the product immediately.

Gripe water

This over-the-counter remedy, typically containing dill or fennel, can help reduce spasms in the muscles lining the intestine. Gripe waters may also contain ginger (which helps with nausea) or peppermint (which has some mild muscle relaxing and anti-inflammatory effects); others may include chamomile, which has a slight muscle relaxant and very mild sedative properties. Some contain small amounts of bicarbonate, which are safe for most babies, but if your baby has chronic lung or kidney disease, double-check with your doctor before using. However, a few brands of gripe water may also contain alcohol -- avoid those.

Herbal teas

Ginger, peppermint and chamomile can be administered in the form of teas, or glycerites (liquid forms). If your baby is colicky and also has a confirmed case of GERD, though, then a peppermint treatment is not recommended; too much peppermint can relax the gastro-esophageal sphincter, which keeps stomach acid from refluxing up into the esophagus, and make a case of GERD even worse. Also, be careful to avoid any alcohol content in the liquid forms.  

Aside from peppermint’s tendency to make heartburn and reflux worse, or cause problems in kids who are allergic to the herb, these herbal remedies are all historically safe for use in infants. You can give teas in a bottle (let it cool, of course), or nursing moms can trying drinking tea to possibly pass it via breastmilk.

Chiropractic Care

Most people don’t think of infants as being candidates for chiropractic care, but baby chiro is on the rise, and new research indicates it may help colic symptoms by addressing tightness and joint issues caused by being cramped in utero. Adjustments for babies are short, quick impulses involving light touch; little ones usually find it relaxing and often fall asleep.