What Else Can I Try? My Baby Is Still Crying!
There have been babies with colic as long as there have been babies, meaning forever. Every culture and every generation has an idea about how to treat colic. At this point in time, many of these treatments have been tested, and very little has been found that definitely helps colic.
The first and most important thing is that you are not to blame for your baby having colic. Nothing you do, and nothing you don't do, causes colic. There have been studies showing that babies with colic have the same crying behavior when other people take care of them. It is hard to believe that you have no control over your baby's crying, but when a baby has colic, you really just have to wait for their system to mature.
Next, you need to know that some studies show that herbal teas may help a colicky baby and lessen crying. There is no definite, reproducible effect, but the teas may help. One tea that has been tested includes fennel, vervain, lemon balm, chamomile, and licorice given three times a day. There are two problems with herbal tea. One is that the potency of herbs varies from source to source. Herbs are not regulated as medications, so you will not know exactly what strength of herbs you might be making in the tea. The other problem is that giving a baby tea may interfere with normal feeding. You can discuss this with your doctor.
Another similar concoction is called “Gripe Water.” This includes some or all of these herbs and oils: ginger, yarrow, chamomile, clove, cardamom, dill, cinnamon, fennel, lemon balm, peppermint, and licorice. This is supposed to reduce gas and indigestion. It is available in health food stores and online. The caution against using herbs of unknown strength remains. In addition, Gripe Water is often made with sugar and/or alcohol, which should not be given to a young baby. This is also something that you can discuss with your doctor. If you decide to try it, look for a supplier who makes it without alcohol and without sugar.
There are medications that decrease the motion of the intestine, which may reduce the pain of colic. One such medicine is called Bentyl. It has been associated with apnea, stopping breathing, and is no longer recommended for infants under 6 months of age. There are other agents in other countries, but nothing available in the United States at this time.
Some doctors will recommend simethicone (Infant Mylicon), which reduces intestinal gas. Do not use an adult version of this medication, as it comes with some antacids, and these should not be given to babies. If your doctor suggests simethicone, he or she may give you a prescription for your baby.
If you are breast feeding, there may be an association with length of time feeding on one breast and colic. The milk the baby gets at the beginning is relatively high in milk sugar and lower in fat. At the end of feeding on one breast, there is more fat and less milk sugar, which is easier for babies to digest. Some recommend that a colicky baby feeds entirely on one breast for each feeding, and then switches to the other breast the next feeding.
Then there is the position of the sleeping baby. Infants should not sleep on their stomachs because there is a higher risk of SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Lying on the stomach was thought to quiet the intestines of babies with colic. You can put your baby on his or her stomach for limited periods while you are awake and your baby is awake. Babies do need to spend some time on their stomachs so that their neck muscles develop, but you should try short intervals only, and be sure not to put your baby down to sleep that way.
If you discuss colic with your baby's doctor, you may get some good suggestions. You may also get ideas from your friends and family. Anything that is not dangerous is worth trying. Please try and remember that colic does go away, regardless of what you do. By the time your baby is three to four months old, her or she will be crying much less.