My Baby Has Colic – Can Chiropractic Help?

There is NOTHING quite so troubling to a young couple as a crying baby who can’t be settled down, especially if the infant is their first child! One of the leading causes of a distressed baby is colic—at least, this is probably the condition blamed the most for cranky baby behavior!

WHAT IS COLIC? By definition, the term “colic” applies to any healthy, well-nourished baby who cries more than three hours a day, three days a week, for more than three weeks. Colic remains a bit of a mystery. (Perhaps if a baby could speak, he or she might tell us their stomach hurts, they’re constipated, or something else.)

Colic usually starts when an infant is about two weeks old if the child was carried to full-term; however, for a premature baby, colic may manifest later on. Colic often self-limits or resolves on its own by month three or four. Whether or not a child is breast fed doesn’t appear to have any effect on colic, and there are no identifiable difference in older kids who had vs. didn’t have colic when they were babies.

WHAT CAUSES COLIC? As stated above, the exact cause is not well understood, which according to WEB-MD is why there is “no clear way to help it”. Here are some “theories” on causation: a growing digestive system, gas, hormone changes, noise or other sensory oversensitivity or overstimulation, a “moody” baby, and/or an immature or still developing nervous system.

RULE OUT OTHER ISSUES: Make sure there is no infection (check the baby’s temperature), acid reflux or stomach conditions, brain or nervous system pressure, eye problems, irregular heartbeat, or injury to muscles, bones, or to the extremities. Observe your baby for irritability, rubbing eyes, pulling on ears, and look for redness, rash, or other skin changes.

IS THERE A TREATMENT? Common attempts or methods a parent can try at home include using a pacifier, changing the baby’s formula, alternate between breast feeding and formula, minimize air swallowing when feeding (try a bottle nipple with a smaller hole), soothing background music, singing to the baby,  white noise or another type of sound machine, the sound and perhaps vibration of a clothes dryer or washer (but DON’T put the baby directly on the machine!), a vacuum cleaner sound, rocking the baby, a baby carrier that holds the baby over your chest, a baby swing, a musical mobile over the crib, switch off holding the baby when you feel stressed out, and when all else fails, place the baby in your car and drive around – as long as you’re not so tired that you risk falling asleep at the wheel!

Had enough? Bring the baby to a chiropractor! Gentle techniques work great for most babies with colic! One technique described in research studies has to do with gentle manipulation of the mid-thoracic region, as that region of the spine includes the nerves that innervate the stomach area. In MOST cases, only a few treatments are needed before parents observe improvement in their child’s symptoms. If possible, both parents should observe the procedure as it frequently “gets lost in translation” when trying to explain to the other spouse what took place. Infrequently, if results fall short of satisfying, the TEAM approach between your MD and DC may be best for everyone involved!