Colic: it’s every new parent’s worst nightmare. A digestive condition that leads to comfortless crying in babies and young kids, colic can feel impossible to treat and even harder to live with. What most people don’t know, though, is that chiropractic care can help treat colic and promote comfort and wellbeing in kids and toddlers of all ages. 

What is Colic?

The term “colic” is a common one, and most parents have heard it tossed around for years. You might be surprised to learn, though, that there’s not a true medical definition for colic. Generally understood as “inconsolable crying,” colic applies to any baby that cries for an extended period. Here’s how The American Pregnancy Association defines colic:

“According to many experts, colic is inconsolable crying in an infant that lasts many hours a day, starting in the second week of life and lasting until about three months of age. About 40 years ago, a pediatrician named Dr. Morris Wessel conducted a breakthrough study on excessively fussy children.

The definition he chose to use to describe colicky babies was not considered scientific, but it stuck with physicians. His description of a colicky infant was a child who cried for more than 3 hours a day, for more than three days a week, for over three weeks. This is often referred to as the “Rule of 3’s” and these rules came to be known as the Wessell Criteria, which is now used in most current studies of babies with colic.”

The Signs and Symptoms of Colic

How do you know if your baby has colic? What’s the difference between a colicky child, and one who is just fussy? Here are a few key facts about colic:

  • First of all, a colicky baby is not a sick baby. Colic is a digestive condition that, while sometimes challenging to treat, can be resolved. 
  • Some pediatric experts believe that all babies experience colic, although the differentiation between one case and another comes down to the degree of discomfort and crying.  
  • According to Wessell’s Criteria, an estimated 20-25% of babies experience “colic.” 
  • Colic has many physical signs. Most colicky babies pull their legs up to their chest. They may also stretch their legs, clench their fists, beat the air, or pass gas repeatedly. Another surefire sign is a baby with a distended abdomen. Although gas is not the cause of colic, it’s a symptom – as babies gulp air as they cry.
  • Colic crying generally increases in the evening hours and is at its worst 6-8 weeks after birth
  • Colic can self-resolve. In most cases, it ends for 50% of babies at three months of age, and  90% of babies by the time they reach nine months.

What Causes Colic?

As a parent, it can be wrenching to watch your baby grapple with colic. The discomfort is evident, and many parents feel powerless to provide relief for their little one. The first step in doing this, though, is understanding what causes colic. Here are a few of the primary factors:

  • Children that are naturally sensitive and require more attention
  • Children with underdeveloped or immature nervous systems
  • Kids who become overwhelmed easily or are sensitive to stimulation
  • Breastfed babies who may be vulnerable to something in their mother’s diet
  • Bottle-fed babies who are reacting to the proteins in their formula
  • Babies who eat too quickly or who are being overfed 
  • Babies whose mothers smoked throughout their pregnancies
  • Babies who gulp air when they cry or feed, and who are not burped afterward
  • Babies with low birth weight or acid reflux

In some cases, a baby can have a single risk factor. In other cases, babies may experience several of these issues at once. If your baby is experiencing any of these, don’t fret. There are improvements you can make to your little one’s condition. They don’t have to be in pain forever. 

2 Big Ways Chiropractic Care Helps With Colic

The fact that chiropractic care helps babies with colic find relief is not a theory. Instead, there is ample scientific evidence to back the claim up. According to one 2012 study published in the Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapy

“One hundred four patients were randomized. In parents blinded to treatment allocation, using 2 or fewer hours of crying per day to determine a clinically significant improvement in crying time, the increased odds of improvement in treated infants compared with those not receiving treatment were statistically significant at day 8…In this study, chiropractic manual therapy improved crying behavior in infants with colic. The findings showed that knowledge of treatment by the parent did not appear to contribute to the observed treatment effects in this study. Thus, it is unlikely that the observed treatment effect is due to bias on the part of the reporting parent.”

With that in mind, here is how chiropractic care can help your baby with a case of colic:

1. Chiropractic Care Stimulates the Digestive System

Colic originates in the digestive system. Fortunately, chiropractic care stimulates and activates the digestive system, offering remarkable benefits for babies and young children. Compared to other treatment options, like the administration of anti-gas medication, chiropractic care provides a holistic, more effective method of treatment that can lessen or resolve the issue entirely.

2. Chiropractic Care Improves Body Function

Chiropractic care works with the body, never limiting the body’s natural functions. This allows specific systems to “get out of their way,” so to speak. While many parents are nervous about the idea of taking their baby in for adjustment by a chiropractor, chiropractors are specially trained to deal with infants and will provide a gentle, comprehensive adjustment that can help your baby’s body thrive. 

Chiropractic Care: Your Go-To for Colic

If your baby has a sore, sad tummy, chiropractic care can help. For more information or to book your first appointment today, contact ou team now. We’ll be happy to answer all your questions and help you settle on a treatment plan for your little one.