Tummy Time

Massage for Your Colicky Baby

By Karrie Osborn

There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to help your child when they are hurting or distressed. For parents of infants suffering with colic, that frustration is compounded with the child’s constant crying that seems to find no respite. While you’re sure to find lots of home remedies on the Internet to relieve the symptoms for your little one, massage is one scientifically proven way you can bring them relief, while also creating important parent-child bonds.

What is Colic?
According to WebMD, colic is the diagnosis when “any healthy, well-fed infant cries more than three hours a day, more than three days a week, for more than three weeks.” Experts say while colic is likely to start around two weeks of age, it almost always goes away on its own by three or four months.
No one knows exactly what causes colic, but many experts point to gastrointestinal issues as the culprit. Could it be diet, or, in the case of breastfeeding infants, the mother’s diet that causes the pain of colicky infants? Is it overstimulation? For some, dietary changes alleviate colic; for others, a change of environment or motion de-escalate a colic attack. Many parents say looking to complementary and alternative therapies like massage has proven most successful.

Science Supports a Tummy Rub
According to Jerrilyn Cambron, DC, a massage therapist and educator at the National University of Health Sciences, research shows that massage can provide some relief for your colicky infant. Cambron says a 2016 study found that massage reduced the amount of crying in colicky babies, increased their duration of sleep, and reduced their cries per day. While there were limitations with this study, the outcomes prove promising when parents administer relaxing massage to their distressed babies. Another study looked at the benefits of mothers administering abdominal massage for 5–15 minutes at the onset of a colic attack. Results showed that for those infants receiving massage, the number of hours of crying per week decreased from 13.28 to 6.27.
The next time you have a colicky baby to soothe, consider this good, old-fashioned remedy—a simple tummy rub.

Tummy Rub
For gassy or colicky babies, experts recommend rubbing their tummies in a gentle, clockwise motion, or “bicycling” their legs to relieve intestinal pressure in the belly.
Some parents choose to do this with every diaper change, while others incorporate it when a colic attack begins.
For more tips, visit www.todaysparent.com/baby/infant-gas.

Karrie Osborn is senior editor for Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals.