Maybe her symptoms looked like Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER) or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) but the doctor said she has colic. Now what? Unfortunately, this is one of those good news/bad new situations. The good news is she has colic and not a more serious medical condition. The bad news is there are no easy treatments for colic. No magic pill, no 100% effective treatments to reduce the crying and the pain. Colic treatment is largely based on tradition with little evidence based research to guide parents and physicians. Perhaps that is why parents get a LOT of advice from others. Different things work for different babies. Before you lose hope, let's review the common treatments for colic. Most parents report at least some success with these techniques. For most babies, colic lasts a few weeks to a few months and soon your baby will turn into the happy, giggly baby you thought you had sign up for when you got pregnant.
Important: Before we go any further, please be sure to discuss your baby's symptoms, diagnosis and treatment with her doctor. You may have done a bit of reading about the symptoms of reflux and colic and come to the conclusion that she has colic. However, it is really important to include the doctor too. The doctor needs to evaluate your baby, rule out other causes of crying and help you develop a home care treatment plan. If your baby has Gastroesophageal Reflux or GER, some of these treatments may be recommended as well.
The well known treatments for colic attempt to address the underlying fussiness and crying, digestive discomfort and gas that seems to cause so much distress to a baby and her caregivers.
Your baby's colic treatment plan may include:
Gripe Water: There are several brands and formulations available. Gripe water is made from herbs such as fennel, chamomile, peppermint and ginger and helps with digestion.
Gas Drops: Over the counter gas drops containing simethicone may be recommended by the doctor.
Probiotics: Probiotics are the "good" bacteria in your stomach. There is some evidence that probiotics reduce colic symptoms. Liquid and powder probiotics may be purchased at a pharmacy or health food store.
Diet: Nursing mothers are often instructed to try a dairy and soy free diet. Formula fed infants may be switched to a hypoallergenic formula.
Movement: Swings, rockers, swaying and moving carriers are available and seem to calm some babies.
Chiropractic Care: There is some evidence that chiropractic techniques reduce crying and colic symptoms. A recent study in Denmark found that a third of chiropractic consultations for infants were due to colic symptoms.
Infant Massage: The International Association of Infant Massage
provides a guide to finding an instructor in your area. Infant massage may reduce fussiness and offer parents another "tool" in their colic toolbox.
Take others along for the ride: I think it is very important for caregivers to find each other for support and networking. Your local moms club may not be the best place to bring your inconsolable baby but an online support group may boost your morals and soothe your worn brain and frazzled nerves. I think the ride always seems shorter when you have a companion on your journey.
Kangaroo Care: Many parents and doctors advocate using a sling or carrier. Often referred to as Kangaroo care or "wearing your baby", the idea is to hold your baby as much as possible. The warmth, motion and close proximity may be calming.
Self Care: Sleep, food, fluids and a breath of fresh air will do wonders for your body and give you the strength you need to deal with the intense caregiver burden. This may be the most difficult treatment for you to tackle. Often the other parent, grandparents or a friend can help if you can just find the time to call when the baby isn't crying.
Share your story: Please share your colic/reflux stories here. For every story posted, there are many others who are lurking, hungry for information and support. Who knows-maybe you will find a travel companion. You might even hear a story that sounds very familiar, confirming that you are not alone and you will survive colic, reflux and the fussy baby phase of your parenting journey.
Check out Colic Cry/Reflux Cry? for more information on the colic/reflux connection.