Doctor Betti
Dr. Betti Hertzberg Ressler is a Board Certified Pediatrician on staff at Miami Children's Hospital. Dr. Hertzberg developed the toilet training video "Let's Go Potty." She is the co-author of "The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies for Children."


Question: What exactly is Colic and how is it treated? - Melinda

Answer: Colic has been around since the beginning of babies! It's a term that is used to describe pain, usually related to indigestion or gas in the gastrointestinal tract. I will assume that you are talking about colic in a baby, which can be quite frustrating to both parents and doctor.

It can occur at anytime, but most commonly occurs after a baby's digestive system cannot process or digest the type of formula that he or she is drinking. Babies who are breastfed have a lower incidence of colic due to the fact that human milk (made for human babies) is easily digested. Formulas are mostly based on cow milk, with proteins that are sometimes hard for baby to digest. At times, mom's diet will affect a baby who is breastfed because foods eaten by Mom will pass through breast milk in certain quantities. This is remedied by avoiding foods known to give baby "colic" while breast feeding. Medications also pass through breast milk, so consult with your baby's pediatrician if you are on any medications.

Historically, the term colic is also used to describe a period of fussiness that occurs around 4-6 weeks of age, lasting until around 3-4 months. This "fussy" period can cause high stress levels because there appears to be no real cause for the pain or persistent crying that occurs. Crying usually happens towards the end of the day and into the night. It usually occurs around the time that levels of stress are also high in the household. Babies are fed, dry and physically there appears to be no problem that needs medical attention.

Colic usually resolves without problems (assuming there is no medical condition).

It's important to remember that before we assume that colic is normal, have baby checked out by the pediatrician. It is only then that we can assume that colic will run its course. Be careful about home remedies that are used to treat colic. Your baby's doctor may recommend a change in formula. If there is a family history of allergies, a formula change might work to relieve colic symptoms. Teething usually starts at around the same time that colic does. Some babies teeth easier than others.

Over-the-counter gas drops for babies are fairly safe, as they only break up gas bubbles in the stomach. Other remedies may contain drugs that may not be in the best interest of the baby. Always consult your baby's pediatrician before giving any medication or home remedy to treat colic or any other problem.

A helpful hint when starting ANY new food or formula: start slow and stick with single ingredient foods for a few days. This way you can more accurately pinpoint the problem food. Never start any new food at night! This way, there will be no surprises!

Dr. Betti

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  • Ask Dr. Betti your questions

    This information is not intended to be a substitute for visiting your pediatrician. If you or your child has specific concerns, you should see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.