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Does Holding Your Baby Prevent Colic?

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Dear Dr. Markham.

I appreciate your education. That being said I think every doctor out there that thinks the reason we have colic babies is because we don't hold them, is nuts.

I was a colic baby myself. My mother was 41 when she had me my father was 56 and I had a 13 yr old half sister. I was told of the long days, afternoons and nights that they walked the floor with me. My mother from dawn until my sister came home from school, my sister until my father got home late from his job and my father until they could finally get me to rest at night. I was always in someone's arms.

The day I was cured from colic was the day my dad did some research and decided to give me a combination of magnesium and B-6. I got better almost instantly. Unfortunately my father was deceased when I had my colic baby so I couldn't ask him what the exact combination was. My son was born a month early and had a very hard time with his lungs. I have blocked out most of the stuff they did to him in the hospital because it was too stressful to think about. He was only in the hospital a week but it seemed like months.

When he came home I vary rarely put him down and at the slightest whimper I was at his side. Even when my husband and mother in law where around I would hover over my son. I carried him with me all day long as I did things ( in a big wrap). He went with me to put the dogs out and even hung on me when I cleaned horse stalls. He still had colic! He cried almost all day and most of the night (he nursed on demand too) for 5 months straight.

So for anyone to say that other cultures do not have colic because they carry their young around and attend to there needs is a bunch of baloney because I spent every second of every day attending to my son's needs. I would be more apt to say that maybe the reason they don't have colic is the vitamin/ mineral content they have in their bodies.

I know I have no degree or even a collage education but I do know from experience both mine and my sons that colic didn't come from being "left by ourselves".

Thank you for taking time to read my letter. I felt the need to give you some perspective from the other side.



Dear Donella,
Thanks so much for writing. What a story! I hear loud and clear that you held your son nonstop and he still cried nonstop.

I have heard a similar story to yours (about the magnesium and B-6) from a doctor who thinks probiotics cures much colic. The fact that your dad cured your colic almost instantly does indicate that something was out of balance in your body. And your son could certainly have inherited the same issue.

We do know that traditional cultures have less colic, and once thing that is strikingly different between our baby-raising and theirs is that they hold babies more. But it is entirely possible that your theory is correct, and there is some other difference we aren't noticing, for instance that they are somehow better off nutritionally, although everything we know about traditional cultures doesn't support that. At any rate, it may well be that it isn't the holding that prevents the colic in those cultures.

I do want to draw your attention to the study of colicky babies that showed that when the moms stopped drinking cow's milk, half the babies' colic vanished. The other half, unfortunately, kept crying. Even more promising, though, a study reported in the January 2007 issue of Pediatrics cured 95% of the colicky babies by giving them probiotics AND eliminating cow's milk. They gave colicky babies who were breastfeeding 5 drops daily of beneficial gut bacteria (the probiotic L. reuteri). All the moms were asked to eliminate cows milk from their diet. 95% of the probiotic babies improved, as opposed to only 7 percent of the control babies, with crying improving somewhat in the first week and dramatically within a month. If this study is repeated with the same results by other researchers, probiotics will soon be prescribed as the cure for colic. In the meantime, any parent with a colicky baby will probably want to conduct their own private experiment to see if it works on their baby.

You have my great admiration for holding your son through his five months of crying. You sound like a wonderful mom. I hope the rest of his childhood is easy!
Warm regards,
Dr. Laura

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