Acupuncture is a wonderful and gentle way to help ease the discomfort of a colic-y baby. A baby is said to have “colic,” when he or she cries excessively or intensely for no apparent reason (meaning the baby is fed, changed, and rested). It can be scary for a parent, uncomfortable for a baby, and undoubtedly miserable for everyone involved. If you have ever had a colic-y baby you know you would do anything to help soothe your baby and provide some comfort. The cause of colic is not entirely known, though it is thought to have something to do with digestive problems or food sensitivities.
Acupuncture can help to decrease inflammation in the gut and calm the baby’s nervous system to better allow the digestive process to take place. Acupuncture, moxibustion (an herb burned over acupuncture points), and Chinese herbs can also help to tonify or strengthen the digestive tract. Studies have shown that acupuncture is effective in alleviating symptoms of colic and can decrease the amount of time spent crying, improve eating habits, and aid in the ease of pooping (1). Children tend to respond quickly to acupuncture without many needles or too much stimulation. Alternatively, we have pediatric tools that can stimulate the points or use acupressure if the parent is at all worried about the use of acupuncture needles. We also often use Tui Na (a type of massage that stimulates the acupuncture meridians) for pediatric patients and will teach parents how to continue this practice at home.
In addition, diet modification tends to be a topic of big discussion when it comes to infants with colic. While I do caution against breastfeeding mother’s obsessing over diet and becoming too restrictive, some studies have shown that a maternal diet which eliminates high allergen foods such as: cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, and soy can reduce the time spent crying in some babies with colic (2). There is also some evidence that foods that would cause gas in your diet, may also contribute to gas in your infant; for example, vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, or brussel sprouts. Every baby is unique and may respond differently to diet changes.
The important thing remains that both mom and baby receive enough nutrition to fuel a body in recovery and a body growing rapidly. If you have any questions about how you can use acupuncture to help comfort your baby, please reach out to us at the Acupuncture Clinic of Boulder.