Colic is a Symptom So Treat The Cause! …… By Christian Bates

The is no magic cure for colic. To any parent reading this you may now be starting to get some colic symptoms yourself! But don’t despair, there are solutions, it just isn’t quite as black and white as a “cure”.

Through my 16 years treating colicky babies and my research into the medical literature researching my clinical experiences I have come to see colic as a symptom that has a number of “causes”. Find the “cause” that matches the colic of your baby and you can have really wonderful success at calming your baby’s colic. You can certainly help them a lot quicker than waiting the classic 12 weeks until the colic is supposed to naturally end. It often doesn’t end at 12 weeks, but that is another Blog.

I say there is no ONE magic cure for all colic because I don’t believe there is only one type of colic. In my book Calming Colic – How to help the 10 causes behind colic I look in depth at 10 of them. I had already seen patterns in colicky babies and had a mental check list of what might be a factor when babies visited me for treatment. Later I decided to look into the medical research and I was pleased to find plenty to back up what I was thinking. And it didn’t really go along with the “colic is unknown and incurable” that most information sources tell you, particularly the NHS website in the UK.

Most parents are of course looking for the magic cure that will get their baby out of pain and let everyone get more sleep. I do believe there are instances where this over night success is possible but you have to hit the nail on the head with the correct solution for the type of colic your baby has. Let me explain: If your baby has a real lactose (the sugar in milk) intolerance then their “type” of colic may do really well by using a lactase enzyme in their milk, like Colief. This enzyme breaks the milk sugar down and stops the digestion discomfort. If another baby has colic that has nothing to do with a lactose issue then using this enzyme may not help at all.

As a side note to this; breast milk has lactose in it obviously too, as it is a natural milk sugar. So why would a baby have an issue with lactose, which is present in breast milk? I wondered this myself. I believe this is the issue. Breast milk is live, it has lactose in it but it also has lactase too, the enzyme that breaks the lactose down, so basically the breast milk digests itself. However the dairy milk from cows that we all commonly consume is processed by heat which kills off the enzymes in it that helps digest it. A breast feeding mother that drinks cows milk won’t have enough enzymes available to digest both the cows milk lactose and her breast milk lactose, therefore maybe causing colic in the baby that can’t break the milk sugars down itself with an immature digestive system.


Let’s look at another example: If a baby has colic because it has had it’s friendly bowel bacteria upset by a course of antibiotics then the breast feeding mother trying to help by avoiding colic causing foods won’t get the desired results either. Only helping this baby replenish its friendly bacteria will help. In this case we can supplement the baby with specialist baby probiotics.

Most mothers consult me with their baby and say they have colic. Through questioning I try and determine the underlying causes of their baby’s colic and use the correct solutions to help. Technically some of these babies don’t have colic at all, it is just an easy broad term to say your baby isn’t very happy! Probably the most common “not colic” problem I see is some trauma from the delivery which causes irritations particularly to the baby’s head. For this I perform cranial osteopathy with lovely results. I would recommend every baby to consult a cranial osteopath whether they have colic or not, but particular if the birth has been traumatic in some way, particularly with the use of instruments or after a C-section.

There are two important things I tell parents about cranial osteopathy. Firstly, it is extremely gentle and secondly it works WITH your baby. The osteopath is assisting something your baby is trying to do for itself, which will be to get better. Cranial osteopaths help ease the tensions that your baby has picked up during delivery. A very easy to understand example is the compression on the head that happens with a forceps birth. However all births will have some stresses and strains occurring, even a C-section sees the baby being pulled out by its head and neck rather than being pushed out as with a normal delivery. A cranial osteopath will take this into account and gently check the neck for any issues troubling the baby.

I have based as much as possible all the “causes” and solutions to colic in my book on scientific research. Recently a study investigated manual therapies, like osteopathy and chiropractic, helping colic. They actually looked at a number of studies, put the results together and found that having a manual therapy for your baby was successful. It actually reduced the crying time on average by one hour and 12 minutes. However, the researchers stated “but these therapies did not seem to help babies make a complete recovery from colic”. This statement I found so interesting and even as a cranial osteopath who fully endorses using osteopathy for babies I would agree, it doesn’t help every baby completely. In a baby who has colic due to birth strains it will make a massive improvement, perhaps even over night.

However, as good as a treatment from a cranial osteopath will be it can’t fully help a baby who’s colic is predominantly caused by having antibiotics or a number of other causes as explained in Calming Colic. The ideal treatment in this scenario is both cranial osteopathy and the supplementation of probiotics and other possible interventions too. I always advise parents to just do every piece of advice I have, it doesn’t really matter which one works the best as long as their precious baby gets better and the whole family starts to sleep more.

In Calming Colic you won’t find any advice on shushing your baby to sleep, or other common tips like taking them for a walk or a car drive at two in the morning. Of course you can do these to help settle your little one, but these aren’t actually fixing the cause behind the colic as far as I’m concerned. I also haven’t ever found any research that has looked into colic and late night car drives! What Calming Colic is about is finding the causes behind the symptoms of your colicky and unhappy baby. In this way the results will be long term and may even help your child’s future health too.

I hope this Blog gives you a simple insight into colic as I have experienced and researched it. It is not a complete mystery, although it might need a little unravelling. And by unravelling I mean finding the cause or causes behind your babies particular colic. I have found 10 of these, a few I see in nearly every baby and others are a bit more unusual but came along often enough for me to notice and decide they were a factor in colic. I have written about all of these 10 causes in more depth in Calming Colic and I have scientifically referenced them where possible. If you have a colicky baby and you read my book I hope I can help your baby sleep like a baby!

Christian Bates
Osteopath & Naturopath

To find out more about the book Calming Colic and to download a free chapter please visit www.calmingcolic.com.  To buy Calming Colic please search Amazon or buy from www.calmingcolic.com

To receive a 25% discount off the downloadable PDF of Calming Colic – How to help the 10 causes of colic please enter the code: bornonline at the checkout page. This is only available from www.calmingcolic.com

(This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional. All information is written from the experience and knowledge of the person writing the post).