Colic and Reflux

Colic is a broad term used for abdominal pain and effects up to 40% of babies. The main symptom is excessive crying in a baby who is healthy and well fed.

The five main reasons for colic are…

  • excessive wind due to a poor suckling technique.
  • difficulty digesting food due to an immature gut.
  • reflux – acid and milk from a baby’s stomach going into the oesophagus or mouth.
  • constipation.
  • lactose intolerance – this is much less common.

In a recent study, babies with colic who were treated by an osteopath cried two hours less and needed less carrying than babies with colic that went untreated*


Osteopathic treatment can help your baby pass wind more easily, release tension around the diaphragm to reduce the symptoms of reflux and specialised techniques to the bowels may help with constipation.

If your baby cannot open its mouth well to feed, has a poor latch or is gulping an osteopath can release any compression at the base of the skull and jaw to improve latching. This has added benefit for you as it will help to reduce cracked nipples and improve the baby’s food intake.

What can you do to help your baby?

  • Feed your baby at a more upright angle.
  • Hold your baby upright after feeding.
  • Massage your baby’s tummy in a clockwise direction 3-4 times per day when they are not in pain.
  • Don’t feed your baby more than every two hours in order to give them more time to digest.
  • Give your baby baths.
  • Various medications can help – ask your GP or pharmacist.

*Hayden C. & Mullinger B. (2006) A preliminary assessment of the impact of cranial osteopathy for the relief of infantile colic. Complementary therapies in clinic practice. May 12(2), pp83-90.


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