It’s become common that many infants experience some form of colic. Pediatricians today report colic as “sudden, severe, unexplained crying lasting less than 3 hours/day.”1 Of course moms and pediatricians need to be sure there is not another reason for the crying, such as fever, trauma, or other sign of an emergent condition. If there is truly no medical reason for the crying, and the crying persists, it’s a vicious cycle…. the crying leads to worry in mom and to Baby not eating well…which leads to more worry in mom and Baby crying because he’s hungry…which leads to less sleep and yet more concern for mom and even more crying for Baby who is not able to take in the food she needs. Mom often takes on guilt, like she is doing something wrong or her milk is not good enough for Baby, when she is doing everything perfectly. One day of this is plenty, but often the symptoms last for weeks or months, taking a toll on mom, baby and family.
Per contemporary medicine, colic is not well understood, and this fact is common knowledge. Statistics show that colic does go away eventually and therefore is not a major medical concern. However, it is a huge concern for mom and dad of the infants who have unrelieved crying, fussiness, and possibly begin to lose weight when they should be gaining weight.
The medical community suggests colic is due to some combination of the following:
- Digestive woes, perhaps due to intolerance of cow’s milk protein or lactose
- Reflux (heartburn due to stomach acid and milk flowing back into the esophagus)
- An immature digestive system in which the intestinal muscles are often in spasm
- Air (gas) in the intestinal tract
- Increased hormone levels that cause stomachaches or a fussy mood
- Hypersensitivity to a stimulation in the environment (sound, light, etc.)
- An intense temperament in the newborn period
- An immature nervous system 2
Common recommendations to try include changing from breast or cow’s milk formulas to soy, adding lactase to formulas, warm baths, and medicines to aid in reflux. Please know that per traditional Ayurveda, all but the warm baths can lead to additional digestive problems, and may only be treating the symptoms rather than the root cause of the problem.
Ayurveda for Baby Colic
Ayurveda understands that there are many reasons for baby colic, and often they are related to the digestive system, but can also be related to emotional peace in the mom and family (hence colic getting worse as mom worries more and loses sleep because of the colic). The digestive system in an infant is immature… it’s natural. The digestive system is functional, but needs support. Ayurveda understands the digestive system is closely related to emotions (have you ever lost your appetite after a traumatic event or tough news?), because we are “digesting life” and can therefore not digest food well, simultaneously.
Things to consider before losing too much sleep over colic:
You are most likely giving lots of love and nurturing to your baby. It’s also important that you don’t overstimulate his or her nervous system with sensory stimulation (television; music that is loud or not truly peaceful; anger, fear or depression in the household; too much movement (taking Baby into public places and out of his/her home environment often). Baby likes to be swaddled, held close to the chest (heart to heart, you can get carriers for this), “shh shh shh shh” peacefully in his or her ear while you hold him, warm baths with a little sesame oil (be careful so the oil doesn’t let your baby slip out of your arms).
If these things don’t improve symptoms, consider contacting an Ayurveda Practitioner specializing in maternal & child holistic health care. From a simple consultation (a phone consult is often enough), you can get specific recommendations for your particular situation. They may include: a ½ ounce of a small-dose fennel tea at particular times, to help with gas/bloating and reflux; Infant Abhyanga (Ayurvedic oil massage, instructed for parents to give to baby), to help with soothing the nervous system and thus aiding the nerves for digestion; addressing mom’s digestive and nervous system (because Baby always feels what mom feels); or other recommendations. Common results are a happier baby, happier mom, and improved digestion, after simple remedies.
One thing to take note of, is that taking Baby off of milk products (breast milk or cow-based formulas) will only limit their digestive ability in the future. The fact is, milk has received a bad reputation in our culture, yet when taken appropriately (contact First Light Ayurveda or email@example.com for more on milk and how to take it for optimal results), it has the most ojas (life force) and strengthening power of any food. In fact, organic whole milk and breast milkd is the only food that nourishes all 7 dhatus (tissues of the body) within 24 hours. Of course, do not give whole milk to your infant, but consider alternatives before taking your baby off your breast milk or milk-based formula. Not everyone needs milk in their diet, but our digestion should be good enough to take it without trouble. If not, then our digestion is lacking strength, and the ramifications are that we will not digest other things as well as we can, leading to weaker assimilation of nutrients from our food, and less elimination of toxins in our body. So, it is actually important to strengthen digestion to a point where we can take milk comfortably. Most people (babies included) who believe they have a lactose intolerance or milk allergy are actually dealing with a weak digestion. Few people truly have milk allergies. We want to strengthen the digestion, so we can take all the good from our food and remove all the bad from the food….not ignore the weakness and eat according to it. This will just make the problem worse.
So please, if you or your baby need guidance, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.