Probiotics may be the answer to soothing your baby’s colic

If you have, or had, a baby with colic you know all too well the pain of hearing your sweet baby cry (and cry and cry and cry), and not being able to do anything about it. It’s a pretty awful feeling for a parent—and a baby of course.

Babies with colic often have the following symptoms:

  • Regular, consistent and inconsolable crying
  • Usually occurs later in the day
  • Crying can last up to three hours
  • Baby is otherwise healthy and happy

Colic is tricky to figure out. Elizabeth Pantley wrote, “Researchers are still unsure of colic’s exact cause. Some experts believe that colic is related to the immaturity of a baby’s digestive system. Others theorize that a baby’s immature nervous system and inability to handle the constant sensory stimulation that surrounds her cause a breakdown by the end of the day, when colic most often occurs.

“Dr. Harvey Karp, in his book The Happiest Baby on the Block introduced a new theory. He believes that all babies are born three months too early, and that some babies find their new world too difficult to handle. They yearn for the comforting conditions that occurred in the womb.

Whatever the cause, and it may be a combination of all the theories, colic is among the most exasperating conditions that parents of new babies face.

So true. But, researchers may have just found a treatment.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has just published an article reviewing the combined results of three studies that examined the effectiveness of using a probioctic called Lactobacillus reuteri in the treatment of colic.

The Mayo Clinic states that “Probiotics are good bacteria that are either the same as or very similar to the bacteria that are already in your body.” They can be found in foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, apple cider vinegar and in supplements.

The study looked at 345 babies with colic. Scientists gave half of the babies the Lactobacillus reuteri probiotic, and the other half a placebo (a substance with no therapeutic value). They then checked the time the babies spent crying at day zero, seven, 14 and 21. What they found was pretty awesome—in short, it worked.

Babies that were give the probiotic cried significantly less (at all time intervals) than the babies that did not. “The probiotic group was almost twice as likely as the placebo group to experience treatment success at all time points,” say the study authors.

It’s important to not that the findings occurred in breastfed babies, but were not seen in formula fed babies. This reflects the fact that more studies need to be done with formula fed babies—we may find it’s there successful too.

So what does this mean for you and your baby? Hope.

If you suspect that your baby has colic, call your pediatrician and ask the about using probiotics. They can help guide you to make sure they are a safe option for your baby and her particular case.

And know this—it will get better. It is so hard right now, but remember that this is a phase. You are an amazing, mama, and your baby loves you so much, even when they have colic.

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