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?
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
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
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!
Also see: What is the cause of ITP and is there anything that can prevent it from recurring?
Can a pediatrician comfortably prescribe and manage ADHD medication or is it better suited to a psychiatrist?
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.