How Do Babies Get Colic?
Whether you breastfeed or give formula milk, your infant may develop colic and cry because of gas and stomach pain. My child suffered from a colic problem until he was one year old. She cried for no reason and refused to nurse. This continued even after I started giving her solid food.
Babies develop gas because they do not move. Gas bubbles form in a baby's stomach, and this makes the baby "colicky." No matter whether you feed them lactogen, soy milk, mother’s milk, or other milk, gas and stomach pain is common for infants under six months of age. Many people recommend gripe water—a combination of sodium bicarbonate, dill oil, and fennel oil— but it never helped my child. She stopped crying when we gave him gripe water, and sometimes even sleep, but then she would wake up and cry. I also tried several other medicines my pediatrician prescribed for my baby’s colic, including Colicaid, but they did not work for my baby.
In the end, I found some Indian home remedies that worked, and I wish to share them with you. Please check with a medical professional regarding your baby's condition before proceeding. See below:
Indian Herbal Remedies for Colic
- Uramarunnu herb mixture
- Mustard oil massage
- Warm water (to drink)
- Warm water bath
- Asafetida in warm water
Uramarunnu is a traditional colic herb mix popular in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and other Indian states. It is a combination of herbs which should be ground little by little and given to infants. The herbs are:
- Chukku (dried ginger, adrak in Hindi)
- Poondu or lehsun (garlic)
- Palkayam (asafetida or hing in Hindi)
- Jathikka or jaiphal (nutmeg)
- Vayambu (vasambu in Tamil, vasa bach in Hindi)
- Kasthoori manjal (a special kind of turmeric)
Rub each of the herbs lightly on a clean stone, once only. Altogether you need a quarter teaspoon of herb mix paste. Give this to your child once a day, or twice a day if the colic is severe. I used to give this to my baby twice a day. You can find the herb mix in ayurvedic shops.
2. Mustard Oil Massage
Giving an infant a massage with warm mustard oil (sarsom ka tel in Hindi and kadukenna in Malayalam) and a bath in warm water can alleviate gas problems and colic pain. Warm baths can also trigger sleepiness in a child. Massaging with mustard oil can improve blood circulation and encourage body movement so that gas can be expelled.
Here's what to do:
- Boil a little mustard oil with a few cloves of garlic (lehsun in Hindi).
- Let the oil cool.
- Massage your baby's chest and feet with the cooled oil.
3. Warm Water
Feeding a baby milk alone can make an infant vulnerable to colic and stomach pain. We give warm milk to babies, but when we give them warm water (make it warm to the level babies can withstand) as well, this can ease stomach pain. My child’s colic decreased a lot after I started giving him warm water. It seemed to bring out gas from his stomach. Afterwards, be sure to burp the baby. Offer warm water several times a day. You can add cumin seed and give this once a day. Don't offer give cumin water more than once a day.
You may have noticed that babies sometimes cry while passing gas. This is called stomach heat. Giving warm water several times a day can cure this problem.
Another remedy for this kind of discomfort is arrowroot porridge. Also, ragi porridge, vayambu, and nutmeg are also wonderful remedies for stomach heat.
- Add a little bit of asafetida to warm water. Use an amount about the size of two mustard seeds. Do not give more than that, as asafetida is a strong spice.
- Rubbing asafetida (perumkayam in Tamil, hing in Hindi) on your baby's stomach can also help. But applying externally is not as effective as giving internally. You can do both. Mix asafetida with warm water and apply to the navel area. LG asafetida is the best brand in India. Do not use powdered asafetida. Get the solid block, break off a little amount, and mix in warm water.
Garlic is one of the best remedies for colic, but it should not be given alone. On its own, garlic can burn the baby’s tongue. A little rub of garlic can be given along with jaiphal (nutmeg) or other herbs. Or mix with rice, roti, or other foods. Garlic (or lehsun) is best in its raw form.
What Nursing Mothers Can Eat to Relieve Infant Colic
- Papaya can relieve constipation in infants. If a child eliminates regularly, her colic problems will ease.
- Ginger (raw)
- Jeera water (cumin seed water)
- Ajwain water (ayamodakam in Malayalam, vomam in Tamil)
- Fennel seed (sauf in Hindi, perumjeerakam in Malayalam)
What Nursing Mothers Should Avoid
Nursing mothers should not eat:
- Dry fish and prawns
- Milk products like curd, ghee, butter, and cheese
- Citrus fruits like mosambi, orange, and lemon
- Spicy meat dishes
- Certain vegetables like tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage
- Chicken and beef
- Spices such as black pepper, red chili, green chili, cardamom, and cinnamon
I ate exclusively homemade food while I was breastfeeding. I never ate chocolate, cake, ghee, burgers, or pizza until my child was six months old. These precautions helped my baby recover from his colic problem.
Effective Burping Techniques
Everyone knows that babies need to be burped, but there are more and less effective ways to do this.
- Lie the baby down on your lap with their stomach pressed against your thigh. Pat their back and the gas should come out.
- Tummy time is a good gas prevention technique. Make child lie down on her stomach for a few minutes. The child can keep her head down and rest when you do this. She may also try to lift her head up. Do this for two or three minutes and repeat several times a day, but only under your supervision. Tummy time can strengthen muscles and will also push out gas from the stomach.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Jolly on November 27, 2018:
Can we give warm water to infants?? Doctors advice otherwise. Please reply as my 2 month baby though not always but gets gas issues at times and it's very difficult to watch her suffer.
Akash on September 10, 2018:
Hi Dhannyya,thanks for sharing helpful home remedies.
Alisha on July 03, 2018:
My Daughter is 2 months old and she is having extreme colic and couldn't sleep well at night. Her colic starts at late afternoon and she is fuzzy. I will try uramarunnu.
Samantha on May 13, 2018:
Thank you so much..my baby is 8 months old and she's having stomach upset. Id try the mustard oil remedy and warm bath.hope it helps.shes running a little but of fever too.
rimi on August 23, 2017:
Any1 can you help me plz. My baby is 11 month. What kind of sickness he have? I admit to hospitals so many times nd they test everything. They dont find the reason. They can't treat.He lose stool so many time nd having gastric to much.. what i will do i don't know . I dont eat what you says here but still having problem. What to do?
Deepa on August 06, 2017:
Its very useful to new mom
Aish on March 22, 2017:
Thank u very much
Nice article very informative...!!!
I request u to write an article on baby food strike.. As my baby refuses to have food most of the time he is 6 month old.
Dr Ranjan Pejaver on March 10, 2017:
A baby’s digestive system is immature at birth, which leads to frequent digestive upsets like gas formation, colic, and reflux. Poor digestion can affect his or her body weight, immunity, and even emotions. Therefore, the baby’s developing digestive system requires optimal support. I always recommend new mothers to follow correct feeding techniques:
• help the baby to latch properly
• the baby should be fed smaller quantities at frequent intervals of 1½ to 2 hours
• help the baby to burp by gently patting on the back after each feed
A medication that I recommend for babies for healthy digestion is Bonnisan. Bonnisan is a complete digestive aid that supports healthy growth in children. Bonnisan promotes appetite, improves digestion, and prevents colicky pain in babies. Bonnisan is a time-tested remedy and a clinically proven digestive aid for babies; it is proven to be 100% safe for babies. Bonnisan is free from alcohol and sodium bicarbonate.
Dr Ranjan K Pejaver
MBBS, MRCP, FRCPI, FRCPCH (UK)
Pediatrician and Neonatologist
sehrimalik2 on August 28, 2016:
The best and perfect home remedy that worked wonder for my baby with severe colic and non-stop crying was an organic herbal tea called babies magic tea.
Parul Srivastava from Lucknow,India on January 31, 2016:
Dhannya,that is a good collection of remedies !
Megh on September 11, 2015:
It really helped me a lot dear...thanku a lot
MaureenVeracruz on July 21, 2015:
I've found that swaddling my little guy helps to soothe him. Sleep sacks seem like they're the way to go especially the Zipadee-Zip from Sleeping Baby. My LO loves the breathable, soft-fleece material. My son is extra colicky so I have even tried putting lavender essential oils on him in addition to the Zipadee-Zip. Whatever I can to make him stop crying when he goes off, lol.
JiJi_818 on May 22, 2015:
These remedies are interesting. I love seeing the different easter and western remedies. My son colic got really bad and it affected his sleep so we tried different remedies including the Zipadee-Zip. It did help soothe my son. There were other benefits as well.
Rl on March 01, 2015:
Nice article. ... useful tips... tx.... However ... just one thing.... babies cannot be given honey till the age of 1..... due to infant botulism. .... which can be dangerous. ...
dr.saheti on December 31, 2014:
Thankx a lot for dis article
Suzie from Carson City on October 27, 2014:
Very informational, helpful hub, especially for new young mothers. I remember those days many years ago when as a new Mom I was always looking things up, asking questions and getting opinions. The "First-Time Mom" jitters.
Fortunately they don't last very long and we become experts!! LOL UP++
Uday Patel from Jabalpur, MP, India on October 03, 2014:
Most of the mothers do not follow the remedies mentioned here. This is the case with women with more modern lifestyle.
Penny Godfirnon from Southern Iowa on September 19, 2014:
I would like to pass this on to my daughter as she uses many home remedies. She will research it before using these suggestions but I am sure she will be happy to receive them
o on July 30, 2014:
RachelMarieOrtiz from Rural, Minnesota on July 10, 2014:
I love to try home remedies before going to anything over the counter for my family. I find they work remarkably well! Thanks for sharing!
nilima patil on June 29, 2014:
My one month baby suffering from gas problem. What is the precautions?
And what is the one more option. On burp.
he is not sleeping well at night
Anandita from Korea on November 26, 2012:
Thanks for sharing. I need more study about ayurvedic...