It’s 10 p.m. and your baby has been crying non-stop for an hour. You changed his diaper, offered him milk, sang to him, held him, put him in his swing, and even tried a car ride – but nothing is working. This has been going on for over a week. You’re sleep deprived. You feel helpless and hopeless.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. You knew your baby would cry, but weren’t you supposed to be able to make him stop? Shouldn’t some fresh milk, a clean diaper, or sweet snuggles from mom or dad be enough to soothe him?
Your Facebook friends offer all sorts of advice from switching formulas to taking the baby on late night drives in hopes that the movement will soothe him. Your mom suggests trying gas drops. You talk to your girlfriend with an 18 month old. She tells you her little girl was the same way. Her pediatrician told her it was acid reflux and put her on a prescription acid blocker.
You’re faced with so many different options that now, you’re even more confused. And, quite honestly, as tired and stressed as you are it’s hard to even think straight. Gas drops and acid blockers sound like a quick fix, but you don’t know if you want to be giving your tiny baby medication, what do you do?
In this blog, we’ll be taking a look at some treatment options for colic that don’t necessarily involve medications. Discover how visits to a local chiropractor at Innovative Health can help your child feel better and live better today.
What Is Colic?
All babies go through a fussy period, but the “Rule of Threes” can help you determine if you’re dealing with colic. If your baby cries for more than three hours a day, more than three days a week, typically at age three weeks or older – you are likely dealing with colic. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 1 in 5 babies are considered colicky.
Colic most often begins at the same time each day, usually in the evening. The symptoms begin suddenly, and in addition to crying, may include: hands clenched in a fist, legs curled up, and his or her belly may seem swollen or tensed up.
Colic will eventually go away. Usually, symptoms begin to improve after about six weeks and are generally gone by 12 weeks. But dealing with an inconsolable baby for up to three months can take a tremendous toll on you and your child. Some believe that dealing with colic can interfere with the mother-baby bond and can increase the risk of postpartum depression. Also, colicky babies are more likely to be victims of child abuse and shaken baby syndrome.
Treatment Options for Colic
There are a few things to consider when seeking treatment for colic.
Infants do not yet have a fully developed digestive system. This is reason enough for some parents to be wary about introducing gas drops or other digestive medications. Some studies suggest that they are not very effective. In a study comparing the anti-gas medication dimethicone to chiropractic, 38 percent of babies using the anti-gas medication cried less compared to 67 percent crying less with pediatric chiropractic care.
Prescription acid blockers are another common option. However, these medications start to modify your baby’s immature digestive system while it is yet developing. Some acid blockers have only been studied in adults for side effects, not infants. What’s more, these medications are treating the symptoms of the problem, but do nothing to address the underlying cause.
Infant chiropractic care, however, is a conservative, natural, and safe option that has been proven to be very successful in treating colic.
A 2008 study in Clinical Chiropractic reported that colicky infants cried significantly less and slept significantly more after receiving chiropractic treatments. In 2009, another study showed that colicky infants who received chiropractic care were twice as likely to sleep well and to experience fewer temper tantrums in their toddler years when compared to those who did not receive chiropractic care.
Another study had mothers with colicky babies track their child’s symptoms for three months. In this study, 94 percent of the cases showed “satisfactory” results after an average of only three adjustments within two weeks.
How Chiropractic Works
The purpose of chiropractic care is to enable your body to heal itself by reducing spinal nerve stress (also known as subluxations). When the spine is not functioning properly, the spinal nerves are put under stress. This interferes with the body’s ability to carry vital information between the brain and other body parts via the central nervous system.
This is important because the central nervous system controls the function of all of the systems of the body: circulatory, respiratory, digestive, hormonal, eliminative, and immune. When messages along the central nervous system run into interference, it can greatly affect how your body functions, and in turn, your health.
It’s similar to a trying to talk on a cell phone when the signal is weak. When the call drops in and out, it interferes with your ability to communicate with the person on the other end, and you might not get the message they were intending to deliver to you.
When spinal nerve stress is relieved, the body can function more efficiently, is more resistant to disease, and immune system function improves.
When I hold your baby in my arms I will examine the length of his or her spine for areas that are not aligned properly. The first area I check is the neck because the vagus nerve comes out of the neck right behind the ears and travels to the stomach. If the neck is out of alignment, this nerve may be under stress and not able to function properly. This can cause the stomach to receive the wrong information from the brain (poor cell phone signal) which can cause the baby to become gassy and can lead to crying and spitting up.
The great news is that these spinal misalignments can be corrected through a chiropractic adjustment. When adjusting a baby, chiropractors use a very gentle technique. In fact, the pressure used on an infant is no more than that used to test the ripeness of a tomato. Many babies have fallen asleep in my arms during an adjustment as their bodies finally feel at ease.
If the mom is nursing, we will also talk about nutritional changes that may help with the colic symptoms. Additionally, there have been studies out of Europe that show that probiotics are beneficial in helping to reduce colic symptoms and they are safe for infants. Other studies show that probiotics can help reduce eczema, asthma, and ear infections as well.
Lastly, the most important part of helping is talking to the parents about how the child is eating, sleeping, and dirtying diapers, among other things. We then discuss any changes that may help the baby to stay happy and not return to the cycle of crying.
Chiropractic is Safe
It is safe for a baby to be adjusted from the day they are born. As mentioned earlier, adjusting techniques are modified for your child’s size and weight.
A study published in 2008, followed 781 pediatric chiropractic patients who received over 5,000 chiropractic treatments. Over the course of this three year study, no “serious” and only seven “minor” adverse effects were reported.
Research supports the safety and effectiveness of chiropractic care for other childhood concerns, including: breastfeeding, nursing difficulties, sleep issues, ear infections, allergies, asthma and more.
More and more parents are beginning to question the safety, necessity, and potential side effects of prescription and over the counter drugs. Infant chiropractic offers a safe, drug-free, non-surgical health care option.
If you have any questions about chiropractic care for your baby or child, please don’t hesitate to contact me or our other local chiropractors at Innovative Health clinic. Initial consultations are always done free of charge.
Dr. Colleen Boling, a graduate of Viterbo University and Northwestern Health Sciences University, is a Webster’s Certified Chiropractor and practices a Innovative Health clinic in Weston, Wisconsin. She can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the clinic at 715-355-4224715-355-4224.