Pediatric Integrative & Functional Medicine

Colic/Fussy Babies

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Colic/Fussy Babies

About 20% of babies are labeled as having colic, which describes a set of behaviors characterized as excessive crying by a baby, often characterized by acute abdominal pain and reflux. Though it is common, it is not normal. Causes include poor gut health, reflux, and food sensitivities or protein allergies. Why does a newborn baby have poor gut health? It is now acknowledged that the gut bacteria a mother has is transferred to her baby during pregnancy sets the stage for the child’s gut health. Unfortunately, without the knowledge of this, many pregnant women have gut issues they are unaware of and are passing their suboptimal flora to their children.

There are also differing bacteria that can colonize a baby’s gut based on birth method. A baby born via C-section delivery is colonized by the bacteria in the hospital environment and maternal skin, which can be high in Staphylococci and C difficile. A baby born vaginally is colonized by the maternal vaginal microbiota, which is mainly lactobacillus. Lactobacilli are beneficial in warding off harmful bacteria, parasites, and viruses and has been clinically shown to reduce crying.

A key part of evaluation is feeding method. Breastfeeding over formula feeding can be the best way to transfer beneficial bacteria to infants, thus cultivating their gut in a positive way. It is also important to examine the mother’s diet if she is breastfeeding as baby could be reacting to specific foods in the mother’s diet. That being said, even breastfed babies could be receiving increased toxins from mothers who were on antibiotics while pregnant, had previous alcohol intake, or were given prescription drugs prior to pregnancy. So, it can be important to evaluate lifestyle even before conception. Some mothers cannot breastfeed, so it is vital to evaluate the formula choice and possibly add a daily probiotic to support gut health. Without the addition of helpful gut bacteria, your baby can be susceptible to infection, have poor nutrient absorption, increased gas or bloating, inflammation, and abdominal pain, which are all symptoms of colic.

Regardless the cause, a fussy baby in the house is stressful for both parents and the baby. Pharmaceutical treatments are quickly prescribed and sometimes necessary, but can cause long-term problems while only masking the symptoms. We will help you identify causes of fussiness and recommend natural treatments and adjustments to help you enjoy the early months with baby.