Thankfully, there are many tried-and-true home remedies to soothe a baby. Some are as close as your kitchen. Experiment with a few, determine what works, and stick to it.
Home Remedies From the Cupboard
Chamomile tea. Chamomile combines antispasmodic and sedative properties and may relieve intestinal cramping and induce relaxation at the same time. In fact, chamomile contains 19 different antispasmodic constituents, as well as five sedative ones. To make a cup of tea: Place 1 teaspoon chamomile flowers in a cup and fill with boiling water. Cover and let stand for ten minutes. Strain and, while warm or at room temperature, give to the infant in a bottle. A nursing mother may also drink the tea, unless she is allergic to pollens. Prepackaged chamomile tea bags may be used instead of flowers.
Home Remedies From the Refrigerator
Soy products. That carton of cow's milk looks innocent enough, but it can be the problem source for five to ten percent of colicky babies. Many studies have shown an improvement in colic after dairy products have been eliminated from babies' diets. The culprit seems to be the protein in cow's milk. (Don't think milk is the only villain. This protein lurks in many infant formulas containing dairy and is also found in the milk of breast-feeding mothers who consume dairy products.) Try eliminating dairy products for two weeks and switch to soy products, both for baby and for you, if you're breast-feeding. If you don't notice any improvement, assume milk isn't the culprit.
Home Remedies From the Sink
Running water. Water soothes the savage beast...and the screaming baby. One of the simplest calming techniques is to place a bowl in the sink and turn on the faucet. Hold your baby next to the sink so he can hear the water cascading into the bowl. If the kitchen sink doesn't produce enough volume, perhaps try the bathroom sink. An enclosed space, like a bathroom, may accentuate the soothing sounds of water.
Warm water. Put warm (not hot) water in a hot-water bottle and place it against your baby's stomach. This can be soothing.
Home Remedies From the Spice Rack
Basil. This aromatic herb contains large amounts of eugenol, which, among other things, has antispasmodic and sedative properties. Place 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves in a cup and fill it with boiling water. Cover and let stand for ten minutes. Strain and, while warm or at room temperature, give it to the infant in a bottle. A nursing mother may also drink the tea.
Mint. Mint has antispasmodic properties, which may help reduce intestinal spasms in colicky infants. Place 1 teaspoon dried mint in a cup and fill with boiling water. Let stand for ten minutes. Strain well and, while warm, feed to the baby in a bottle. Nursing mothers may want to have a cup of mint tea, too.
Although it has never been definitively proven to be effective, peppermint-flavored water is a century-old remedy for colic. Scientists have discovered that the active ingredient in peppermint oil is a calcium-channel blocker, which may ease intestinal distress, a common problem associated with colic. A peppermint stick soaked in water may be used as an alternative, but note that many sticks contain sugar. Never use straight peppermint oil to make tea. It's too potent for a baby.
If your baby has been diagnosed with colic, try some of the simple home remedies in this article to help alleviate his or her fussiness.
For more information on caring for your baby, try the following links:
David J. Hufford, Ph.D., is university professor and chair of the Medical Humanities Department at Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine. He also is a professor in the departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Hufford serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine and Explore.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.