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Archived Q&A and Reviews



Meds for Colic?

Nov 2004

Hi there. I have a VERY colicky baby who is three months old. The doctors have prescribed both Donnatol and Levsin, both of which I have been very nervous to give her. Has anyone has any experience with either of these medications for colic? Any success? Any other colic advice for a mom loosing her mind who has tried EVERYTHING from wearing my baby, osteopaths, naturpaths, tummy massage, herbal teas, homeopathic remedies, gripe water, canadian gripe water, a vibrating crib, the swing, thebouncy, car rides, long walks, etc. green

is there a reason you haven't tried medication for acid reflux? zantac is extremely safe. prilosec is more effective, but harder to get your infant to take. I'm now using prevacid, which works fairly well. these are all quite safe and zantac, in particular, has a long history of efficacy without side effects on children. I would try these before I tried any of the other meds.

I hear your pain. Both my wonderful children, a daughter and a son, had horrific colic for 10 weeks, starting, like clockwork, for 5,6 hours, at 6:00p. What worked one night, briefly (football hold, being in a little ''nest'' atop the operating dryer, the sound of the blow dryer, etc.) did not work the next. The simethicone drops seemed pretty impotent, as well. I had heard the the mother should not consume anything of a gaseous nature--broccoli, brussel sprouts, beans, etc. (I don't eat those things and, still, my kids howled) A warm bath (for the baby not you) would serve to shorten the colicky sessions.

One thing I had heard about, multiply, but did not try for fear of what might be in it was ''Gripe Water,'' sold at Persian food markets. There is one such market on Solano, on the Northside of the street, half-way down, on the Northeast corner--the name escapes me.

Finally, know two things a) as interminable as this seems, your precious baby will grow out of this and b) my pediatrician cited a study that said a high percentage of colicky babies seemed to correlate to high IQ children. 'Tis true in the case of my two former screamers.

I wish you luck; see if you can get some friends/family to relieve you and your partner during some bouts, for part of the time. Sometimes, even, the baby might improve in the arms of someone who isn't mom and dad, who might tend to bring a little less frantic energy to the moment. Have I been there

I feel your pain. OK, in addition to everything you listed, here are some things that really worked for us with our colicky baby. The vaccuum cleaner seemed to really break the crying cycle and calm her, esp when we did it in a dark closet, over the counter simethecone drops (these were are godsend for her gas), bouncing and singing at the same time, really being committed to burping, and static (in the car and crib). We also found that by 3 months things really did die down and now we are slowly relying less on these props but we did whatever it took at the time to relieve her discomfort. Unfortunately all the natrual meds didn't work for us so we had to do more environment soothing techniques. We read tons of literature and the best info by far that we have found is in the Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child book by Dr. Weissbluth. He has a whole chapter about colic and it is explained in very scientific and research-based terms and we found it has largely to do with imbalanced hormones. What we discovered is that not much can really be done other than doing whatever it takes, whenever it takes. to soothe your child until the system regulates itself. But it feels much more empowering to be educated. Best of luck to you~

Have you seen The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp? It's in book form or DVD/video (who has time to read an advice book with a new baby around?) and it recommends a combination of many of the things you've tried. His five S's--swaddling, side, shhh, swinging and sucking--are supposed to work together to calm colicky babies. My daughter wasn't that fussy, but it did work remarkably well when she was. Good luck! Kitrena

I've never even heard of the meds you say your doctor has prescribed, but I'd be very suspicious of any drug that's supposed to treat ''colic''. The symptoms that usually get labeled ''colic'' are caused by one of two things: (1) Some sort of digestive difficulty, most often severe reflux (GERD) or a dairy allergy (neither of which is really colic, but both of which are often confused with colic); (2) An immature nervous system combined with a less adaptable natural temperament (true colic). The first may be treated by antacid medication, if reflux is the problem, or by eliminating (and I mean ELIMINATING -- it's harder than you might think) all dairy, dairy products and dairy proteins from the mother's diet. The second is treated only by ''tincture of time'', though the symptoms can sometimes be mitigated by wearing the baby, swaddling, swinging, white noise, etc. Get the DVD of ''The Happiest Baby on the Block'' -- I liked the book, but have friends who tell me the video is more helpful.

If I were you, I'd ask the doc what those medications are supposed to do. Are they reflux meds? If so, what has led the doc to diagnose reflux based on your baby's ''colicky'' symptoms? If not, what are they for, what are they supposed to do, and what are the possible side effects? Then you can make a better decision about whether to try them or not. Meanwhile, hang in there -- colic generally gets ''magically'' better somewhere around 3-4 months of age. And if your baby's symptoms lead you to suspect gas or allergic problems, try modifying your own diet -- I've known many people for whom eliminating dairy did absolute wonders. anon

Things that Help

From: Lisa (9/98)

To the parents of colicky babies: When you've done all you can do and the crying continues, put on a Walkman with soothing music and stroll around with the baby. It helps when you're calmer...babies seem to feel everything.

From: Fran (9/98)

Another thing that sets off infants crying in the evening, although I don't believe it is considered to be colic: too much stimulation. Our pediatrician told us about this. (I believe that T. Berry Brazelton also spoke of it in one of his books.) The idea is that babies get stimulated over the course of the day, and by evening when they're tired anyway, they can't handle it because of their immature nervous systems. Our son would always start crying non-stop around dinner time for the first 2-3 months of his life. The solution would be to put him in his basinette in the dark, quiet, living room and let him cry himself to sleep.

Breastfeeding and Colic

From: Rebecca (9/98)

My breast fed son (5 weeks of age) has been extremely colicky since the beginning of his first week of life. My pediatrician diagnosed his situation as evening colic, and assured me that the condition would improve in 3 months or so. While there was no typical pattern, most days included several crying jags lasting 3 hours or more; extreme gassiness despite a radical change in my diet; the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep (he was wakeful for 8 plus hours at a stretch although he looked and acted quite exhausted); and generalized fussiness and unhappiness.

Three days ago, after his jaundice had not subsided the doctor apologetically suggested I switch my son to formula for 2 days to determine if he was suffering from breast-milk jaundice. Indeed, after 48 hours on soy-formula [we have a family history of reactions to similac, infimil, etc.] -- his bilirubin count has dropped significantly. However, the more remarkable change was a complete metamorphosis of this child -- he is happy, falls asleep after feedings and the crying jags completely disappeared! He was like another baby.

When I told his physician of the change, he suggested my son may have been hungrier than we realized, and recommended a supplemental feeding of soy-milk in the afternoon. I agreed to do this, but after 2 breast feeding sessions yesterday, the colic symptoms reappeared with a vengeance. Allowing that he may still be hungry after the second of these feedings, I gave him expressed breast-milk in a bottle, which he drank, but began whimpering even before he was done with the bottle, and within an hour he was in a full blown inconsolable colic state.

My conclusion based on these facts is that he is having some sort of reaction to my breast-milk. I have been repeatedly told that mother's milk is perfect and that it is extremely unlikely that a child would tolerate formula better than mother's milk. However, the empirical evidence is difficult to overlook, and I feel as though I am torturing him by subjecting him to breast milk. However, I feel guilty and am reluctant to abandon breast-feeding prematurely, despite having made significant accommodations to remove from my diet whatever allergens he might be reacting to (i.e. milk products, wheat-products, and notorious culprits like beans, broccoli, cabbage, garlic, onions, strawberries, etc.) Moreover, I am fearful that if a wean him, he may start experiencing a reaction to soy-formula in a few weeks and I will be unable to offer him an alternative. While I have been pumping -- it is not practical for family reasons to continue to do so for more than a few days.

Has anyone ever experienced this phenomenon???? If so, what did you do?

From: a Mom (9/98)

I don't have an answer to your dilemma but the La Leche League folks have been invaluable in helping me with a wide range of breast feeding related problems and their trained leaders are available to call at any time at no cost. (If you don't reach one on your first call, try another leader or leave a message that it is urgent (that your baby is in pain and you are trying to figure out if you can/should continue breastfeeding)and you need to speak with someone immediately.) You can get their referral number from information. I believe that if they cannot come up with an answer, they have an even more highly trained lactation consultant that they contact on your behalf. Though it has been hard work at times, I credit them with saving my breast-feeding experience from sure failure on a number of occasions.

From: Beverly (9/98)

My first child had severe colic also. She was misarable for months and woke every two hours at night from gas, with the situation gradually easing off by the time she was about four months old.

Please don't let others make you feel that your eating habits are responsible for your child's symptoms. Like you, I tried eliminating all kinds of problem foods from my diet, both allergic foods and gassy foods -- I went crazy and was always under pressure from knowlegable friends to eliminate yet another food, but the only thing that ever made the slightest difference was the passage of time.

I cannot speak to your experience with formula, because I didn't try it. I will say that, once those nightmare months were past, my daughter was well and happy. For what consolation it may offer, my doctor assured me that colicky babies do not run in families, and indeed, neither of my other two children had colic.

From: Dawn (9/98)

Have you consulted with the La Leche League yet? I have found them to be invaluable for all sorts of breastfeeding advice. My friend Trish is one of the leaders for the Berkeley-Oakland group(s). Her phone number is: 530-2645. She can give you more names and numbers as well.

In my limited experience and reading, I find it extremely unlikely that your son is actually allergic to your *milk*. It is quite possible, however, that he is quite sensitive to something that you are eating. I see you have already tried eliminating many foods. Are you by any chance eating peanuts or peanut-butter? I have heard of one woman whose child was so sensitive that she couldn't eat even one spoonful, or a single Reese's cup. Additionally, I have found my daughter to be allergic to bananas (though it didn't seem to be a problem in my milk). And allergies to oranges are also common.

You are right, by the way, to be suspicious of soy formula. It has been reported that when a baby is fed a soy formula as their first main nutrition, they are far more likely to develop a soy allergy. (My daughter appears to be allergic to soy formula, based on our brief experience with it). And of course infants fed cow's milk and cow's milk formulas (before the age of 1) are more likely to develop a cow's milk allergy! Seems you can't win. So it really would be best if you can figure out if your son is allergic to something you are eating, and continue to breastfeed him--if at all possible.

Of course, if it's not possible to feed him breastmilk without the pain, then you should do whatever seems the best to you--you always know the best for your child.

It must be extremely frustrating to you. Good luck!

From: Tatiana (9/98)

I don't know if such thing exist, but my son was very colicky, and the only thing that worked was camomile tea. Just use all natural camomile tea teabags, make mild tea, cool it off to a pleasantly warm temperature and give it to your baby. It works!

From: Harlan Family

My second daughter is now 3 months old. We were having continued bouts of 'evening colic' in an otherwise very happy baby. I normally had one cup of coffee in the morning. One Sunday when she was 1 month old I drank 3 cups of coffee in the morning, a diet coke with lunch and an ice tea late in the afternoon. She cried for about 4 hours straight that evening and was absolutely miserable. I haven't had any caffeine since that day and the 'colic' went away completely.

My first child cried all the time. I'm a little sad in retrospect because I didn't aggressively pursue a strict elimination diet approach with her to see if some food in my diet was causing the problems. Of course, formula fed babies can be colicky as well so all this is just experiential data for you to mull over.

One thing I would recommend before discontinuing breastfeeding is talking with a lactation consultant. It sounds like you need some good solid advice. I highly recommend Bonnie Bruce at the Bay Area Lactation Center. Bonnie's credentials are an RN, IBCLC and over 16 year's of experience with lactating moms. She was able to help me overcome some severe fissures in my nipples at week 2 by advising the use of hydrocortisone ointment and specific positioning of the baby so my nipples would heal (neither treatment was adequately addressed in any of the popular breastfeeding books so while helpful as support reading they're not necessarily good for doing self-diagnosis and self-treatment of problems). I could tell by her work with me that she was an expert. After looking at my nipples she immediately knew the problem and gave me the information and the support I needed to continue breastfeeding.

The center is located at 2999 Regent Street, Suite 103 right across from Alta Bates. Their phone number is 510-204-9703. My consultation cost was $25 for 1/2 hour which seemed reasonable for the level of expertise and service I received. It's easily the best money I have ever spent on my children.

From: Regan (9/98)

I read an article in a recent issue of Parents Magazine (around Jan '98) by a pediatrition in New Jersy (Princeton?). He has written a book on the myth of colick (I remember neither his name nor the book title - sorry). Nonetheless, it was a very interesting article and worth searching for. Briefly, he believes that newborns cry for five reasons - they need food, sleep, changing, holding, or stimulation - and that a parent has about fifteen minutes to fulfill the crying baby's need or the baby will be unconsolable.

My first baby was colicky; for her first four months she cried every night for three or four hours. I read this article just before my second baby was born and after trying this method (see the article) discovered that he cried when he was tired - I just put him down, stroked his head, and in a few seconds he was asleep!

I agree with the other replies that your diet probably has nothing to do with your baby's comfort and just complicates your already complicated life!

From: Julia (9/98)

One more voice weighing in on the colicky baby question. My first child (now seven) was a VERY colicky baby from about 3 mos. to about 6 mos. Like the asker, I tried everything and every advice offered to me, eliminated all of the dietary suspects, etc, but he still cried in obvious pain for several hours every night. These experiences do recede into distant memory (thank goodness), but I certainly haven't forgotten just how tough it was for my husband and I. We spent endless evening hours just walking him, singing to him, and worrying.

What I'd tell myself now is-- keep up the walking and singing (or whatever makes you feel more sane), but don't worry so much. Some babies have colic, there's no magic cure, but they do get over it. I stuck with the breast feeding and after 6 months it was a wonderful and discomfort free experience for both of us.

From: Donna (9/98)

My daughter (14 months old now) had really bad gas the first 3-4 months. I suspected it was dairy and after a series of experiments cutting out certain food groups I was sure it was dairy. When I finally deleted all dairy from my diet she was much, much better although once in awhile would have a little spell. We used mylicon drops which work as a quick fix for the flare ups and I knew part of the tummy trouble was just a matter of her digestive system maturing combined with my diet but still I wanted a deeper more holistic appoach to alleviating her symtoms. My friend had been taking her baby, a few months older, to a woman who practices Jin Shin which is a kind of body work that jumper cables energy points and rebalances the body. I saw a remarkable change in her baby (he was fussy and uncomfortable most of the time). So I tried it for my daughter's tummy stuff and it made a HUGE and immediatedifference and now we use it all the time for all kinds of things. It is completely non-invasive and very gentle - its more complicated than this but in short - it consists of placing one hand on one point and the other hand on the other point until you get a pulse. It may sound hoaky to some but I use this now as my first resource for all kinds of symtoms. Teething, fever, gas, sleep disturbances, swelling after a tumble etc. We use this practice as a family and have had astounding results. Although it is gentle, its very powerful. The best thing is, you learn how to do it yourself so you don't have to go back everytime you need to do Jin Shin. We go for tune ups or if something new or acute is going on. The woman I go to is in Richmond and her name is Barbara Baiardi. Her number is 235-0616. There's a new book out now too that explains it very well. I'll get back to you with the title, I don't have it off the top of my head. Anyway, that's how we got through the tummy trouble stage and continue with each new stage as well.

From: Cathy (9/98)

Yes - I had EXACTLY the same problem. There is a recent study that relates this colic to an allergic reaction to cow's milk that you drink and then pass on to your baby. I found that I needed to avoid not only cow's milk but any product that had even milk by-products (especially whey) in them. Check labels. You'd be surprised what you find whey in - it's even in licorice!. I found that after just a few days of not consuming any milk or milk by-products, the colic went away. When my daughter was ready for weaning, we first tried cows milk formula and she had a terrible reaction! So we went to soy formula which she used well past the recommended time for moving to regular milk. I think she was well into her twos before she was able to tolerate milk. Although she's now four, I'm beginning to suspect milk as being a culprit in some behavior problems. Seems like when she has a lot of milk, she's more prone to temper outbursts. I'm thinking of cutting out milk again for her, just to see if her disposition would improve. I'm a little concerned about getting her enough calcium, though. I don't think I could get her to drink soy milk now.