Looking for natural medicine to help soothe your baby’s troubled tummy? This article by Dr. Kali MacIsaac can help.
All Vancouver moms know when something is just not right with their babe. When your infant has tummy troubles (abdominal pain, gas, bloating, or more severe colic), all you want is to take the discomfort away. Unfortunately for parents of colicky babies, it’s often not as simple as a tummy rub or some gentle rocking. Natural medicine to the rescue!
Colic is a challenging medical issue that can affect up to 20% of babies. It is diagnosed when a healthy baby shows periods of intense, unexplained fussing or crying lasting more than three hours a day. It typically occurs in the first two weeks of life, and usually disappears when a baby is three months (but can last up to a year).
Signs and Symptoms of Colic
Although we can’t definitively say what causes colic, the medical consensus is that it’s usually related to issues with digestion. The most common causes are reflux or food sensitivity, which is why they disappear as the digestive tract matures during the first year. Although your babe cannot speak to you, you can tell they’re having digestive troubles by the following signs and symptoms:
- crying after eating or refusing to feed
- draws legs and knees to chest, clenches fists or arches back in pain
- frequent unexplained colds
- gas or bloating after feeding
- spits up profusely after feeding
- begins to nurse or feed but then pulls off crying as if in pain
- watery, mucousy, explosive bowel movements
- a red, circular rash around the anus
Natural Medicine can Help
Constant crying and screaming, and thinking that your babe is having trouble digesting food is extremely taxing on parents. You just want to help!
- If your baby will take it, try some chamomile, peppermint or caraway tea (cooled) to soothe cramping.
- Occasionally, when you are breastfeeding, your baby reacts to something in your milk. This is especially true if your little one shows signs of allergic reaction, such as a rash on their bottoms or elsewhere, blood in the stool, nasal congestion and runny eyes. The most common culprit is cow’s milk, so try eliminating all dairy, including cheese and yogurt. Other common allergens for babies are the same as for adults, like eggs, wheat, shellfish, soy, citrus, and nuts, among other things. Some babies also react to caffeine. Don’t despair, because as your little one gets older and his or her digestive system matures, you may be able to re-introduce the foods that are currently causing a reaction.
- If your child is eating solids, avoid irritating and inflammatory foods, and stick to bland flavours.
- An infant probiotic is a great solution, as it helps to repopulate the “good” bacteria in your infant’s system. A study done in the Journal of Pediatrics showed babies with colic have more harmful bacteria in their guts versus those who do not have colic. A little powder on your finger and into babe’s mouth twice a day is all they need.
- Try using a heating compress to the abdomen, or gentle abdominal massage in the direction of intestinal movement (from baby’s lower right quadrant, up to ribs, across and over down to lower left in a “U” pattern).
- Homeopathic remedies can be effective. Try Chamomilla 30C for a child who is irritable with a distended stomach. A naturopathic doctor could advise on more specific remedies.
Once you’ve addressed dietary irritants, you should see some resolution in the severity of their colic. Natural medicine like teas will help to soothe an irritated stomach, and a probiotic will ensure they have more beneficial bacteria in the intestines. Wishing you success!
Dr. Kali MacIsaac is a Naturopathic Doctor in Vancouver, and she sees patients at Acubalance Wellness Centre. In her practice, Dr. MacIsaac is interested in exploring the “why” with her patients. She is willing to challenge the idea that health equals the absence of disease, and is interested in pushing the boundaries of what’s possible to help her patients reach their optimal potential. Dr. MacIsaac has a general practice, but has a special interest in working with digestive health, reproduction and fertility, paediatrics, hormonal balancing, and chronic disease. Connect with Dr. MacIsaac on Facebook and Twitter, and at her websites focusmedical.ca, acubalance.ca and focusmedical.wordpress.com!