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Colic (cont.)

Are There Home Remedies for Colic?

Patient Comments

There are no surefire treatments, but you may try the following:

  • Use a pacifier. Swaddle your infant tightly.
  • Gently rock the infant using a rocking chair or lap.
  • Softly massage the infant's abdomen or back.
  • Play relaxing music (even if it works just for the parent!). Studies have shown, however, that excessive limiting of stimulation (prolonged dark and quiet room) may worsen symptoms.

If these attempts are not helpful -- don't give up! Remember that every day your child is getting closer to being 4 months old, and he/she will ultimately resolve these frustrations with a "tincture of time." Research has shown that holding and rocking your baby may reduce the intensity but not duration of crying episodes. You cannot spoil an infant by holding him too much.

What Are Treatment Options for Colic?

Infantile colic is a condition that is difficult to treat. Current conventional treatments fall into one of the following four categories: dietary, physical, behavioral, and pharmacological. With little evidence to favor the first three approaches, there is some evidence that the drug dicyclomine hydrochloride can be effective, although its safety came into question after reports of severe side effects occurring in about 5% of infants, and in some extreme cases it has been linked to infant death

Although some encouraging results exist for fennel extract, mixed herbal tea, and sugar solutions, design flaws and the absence of independent replications preclude practice recommendations. The evidence for probiotic supplements and manual therapies does not indicate an effect. Thus, the notion that any form of complimentary or alternative medicine is effective for infantile colic is currently not supported from the evidence from the included RCTs. Additional research into this prevalent, and often difficult to treat, condition seems warranted.

Many therapies (both traditional and holistic) have been tried to help lessen the symptoms and duration of colic. Many of these anecdotal approaches have not demonstrated success in scientific studies. Some involve the following:

  • Simethicone drops (Maalox, Gas-X, Mylanta, Phazyme) may relieve gas. There are no documented studies indicating that excessive gas is a cause for colic.
  • Ensure a quiet, non-stimulating environment when colic begins. This advice implies that you run the house you would if your child were not in the home. You don't have to "tiptoe around." Conversely, having multiple people pick up and play with your baby may be overwhelming. Many parents find that "white noise" (for example, the vacuum cleaner) is soothing to their colicky child.
  • Change the baby's diet and feeding techniques. For many years, it seemed intuitive that breastfed babies may benefit if the mother avoids dairy products, especially if prone to allergies, or resort to a hypoallergenic diet. Other suggestions include eliminating spicy foods, raw vegetables, and caffeine. Further studies have indicated that children are rarely allergic to human or cow milk protein. Likewise, millions of children are successfully breastfed by mothers in foreign countries in which the diet is filled with highly spiced foods. Children of China and Mexico are not all screaming from intestinal symptoms every night!
  • Try an alternative to routine milk-based formulas only if recommended by your baby's doctor. Some studies support that switching from cow milk protein-based formulas may have some effect in some children.
    • Hypoallergenic formulas, such as Nutramigen and Alimentum, may reduce colic symptoms in some bottle-fed babies, but clear-cut scientific evidence is lacking. They are more expensive than other formulas. These formulas may sometimes appear successful since the protein, fat, and carbohydrate molecules are "partially digested" and thus easier for the infant to digest.

A variety of herbal and complementary medical therapies have been advocated. Herbal teas (chamomile, licorice, fennel, and mint) have strong support in some communities. It is generally believed that small amounts may provide some relief and will not do harm. They should not be used in place of formula or breast milk.

Several years ago, a medication (dicyclomine [Bentyl, Byclomine, Dibent, Di-Spaz, Dilomine]) was shown to decrease the symptoms of colic. However, rare side effects of sedation, cessation of breathing, coma, seizures, and death occurred and the medication is no longer in use for colic.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/9/2016

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Colic:

Colic - Experience

Please describe your child's experience with colic.

Colic - Home Remedies

Have any home remedies eased your child's colic?


Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Colic »

Colic is commonly described as a behavioral syndrome characterized by excessive, paroxysmal crying. Colic is most likely to occur in the evenings, and it occurs without any identifiable cause.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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