As a parent myself, I know firsthand how distressing it is to hear your baby cry incessantly. When it’s just a little whimper, we want to jump right in and comfort them, but when it’s all day, every day, and they’re writhing in discomfort and can’t sleep, it’s excruciating to witness. This could be a sign of colic. Unfortunately, many pediatricians tend to dismiss colic as just normal crying and may tell you they’ll grow out of it. But if your gut is telling you that something isn’t right, it’s time to dig deeper.
Colic is a common catch-all term used to describe a baby who is crying excessively and is unable to sleep or eat comfortably. It affects about one in five babies, but I believe that number may even be higher. The challenge with colic is that it’s often dismissed as just normal baby behavior, leaving parents feeling helpless and frustrated.
We want to help parents understand the root causes of colic and what they can do to alleviate their baby’s discomfort. We’ll take a closer look at a case study of a baby we helped named Silas, who was experiencing digestive issues, constant arching, and extreme discomfort. His mom knew that something more was going on and sought out chiropractic care.
The #1 Missing Link: The Nervous System
One contributor to colic can be nutrition. Certain foods may be more difficult for babies to digest, whether through formula or breastfeeding. However, the biggest missing link that many parents and pediatricians overlook is the nervous system.
The nervous system is the foundation for all other systems in the body, including digestion, immunity, and motor function.
The nervous system was certainly the missing link for Silas, as well as the many other babies with colic we’ve been able to take care of at our practice. I’m passionate about helping parents understand the root causes of colic and how they can help their babies find relief. Let’s dive deep into the science behind colic and provide some practical tips for parents.
Babies Do NOT Grow Out of Colic
I first want to address a common misconception about colic. It is not something that babies simply grow out of. If your parent gut is telling you that something is not right, you’re absolutely correct. There is something going on within your baby’s body that you CAN address.
Many times, parents are told to just let their babies cry it out or to make dietary changes. However, these solutions usually don’t work. In fact, they may be causing more stress for you as a parent. Breastfeeding mothers may feel like they have to give up certain foods in order to help their baby, which can be very stressful during a time when they need to focus on their own healing and nervous system.
What is so disheartening about this for so many families is that not only has their baby been crying nonstop, but they’ve tried everything. They’ve gone all in on diet changes and tried probiotics, gas drops, and herbal, natural, and nutritional remedies. After all that, their baby is still crying, arching, and uncomfortable. This is exactly what happened with Silas. Mom had reported trying:
- Gas drops
- Gripe water
- Two kinds of acid reflux prescriptions
- Eliminating dairy
- Side diaper changing
- Inclined crib wedge
- 5 different styles of burping
- The “5 S’s”
- Pace feeding
Unfortunately, even with that list, nothing was helping.
What Is Subluxation, and How Can INSiGHT Scans Help Detect It?
The reality is that there is something deeper going on, and that’s where subluxation comes in. Subluxation is simply a nerdy chiropractic word that means stress stuck on. When babies are colicky and inconsolable, it’s often because their nervous system is stuck in fight or flight mode. What we want is for them to spend more time in parasympathetic rest, digest, and poop mode.
Babies are supposed to eat, sleep, poop, and be cute. If they’re not doing these things and seem to be uncomfortable, then there is most likely subluxation present. I want to dive into Silas’s case and scans to explain this further.
These INSiGHT neurological scans are an incredible technology designed to detect and find stress on the nerves and muscles that control everything within your baby’s body. These scans are crucial because they help us understand how your baby’s nervous system is functioning and can identify subluxation.
The digestive system is the first thing that needs to develop for an infant, and it’s controlled primarily through the parasympathetic nervous system, which means rest and digest. The number one nerve that controls the parasympathetic and digestive motility function is a nerve called the vagus nerve, which branches from the upper cervical brainstem area.
Unfortunately, the vagus nerve is most easily subluxated either through a breech or abnormal positioning while the baby is still in utero or, most especially, through birth interventions such as forceps, vacuum, and C-sections where we twist, yank, and pull a baby out into the world. This subluxation causes misalignment in the upper cervical brainstem area, which is where the vagus nerve branches from.
The vagus nerve needs to make its way down through the cervical spine, thorax, and into the abdomen. It opens up the esophagus and activates the stomach and small intestine in our digesting processes. Any areas where there are tons of green, blue, and red in the scans indicate areas of built-up stuck tension, which is caused by subluxation. (Silas had red in the area of his vagus nerve – meaning severe stress & stuck tension there.)
The built-up and stuck tension are levels of subluxation that interfere with the function of the gut, motor developmental system, ears, throat, and lungs. Children who end up with a lot of colic and torticollis may develop ear and respiratory infections later on.
For instance, Silas’s initial scans showed significant subluxation in multiple areas, which caused stress in his neuro-digestive function, leading to constant throwing up, arching his back, and feeling so uncomfortable. However, after receiving gentle, neurologically focused adjustments, we were able to release and unwind the tension from his nervous system. Silas started sleeping longer hours, keeping his food down, and was much more comfortable in his body (he even liked tummy time). His digestive system went from jammed up to kicking butt and pooping on the regular.
Chiropractic Care Can Help Your Colicky Baby
A pediatric chiropractor’s primary goal is to understand and address the root cause of colic in infants. We don’t treat or cure colic – we use thermal scans and other technologies to locate and quantify the subluxation and sympathetic stress that are causing the issue. With this information, we can develop a personalized care plan that includes gentle, safe adjustments to release the subluxation and reduce the stress on your child’s nervous system. That is what our office is trained to do. The result is a happy, relaxed baby who can eat, sleep, and poop like they’re supposed to.
Colic is a serious issue that can lead to chronic ear infections, behavioral challenges, and delays in gross motor, fine motor, and speech development. That’s why it’s important to address it as early as possible. When the nervous system is under stress, it interferes with the vagus nerve and gut function. By making gentle, effective neuro-tonal adjustments, we can help your child sleep better, poop better, and be more relaxed overall.
If you’re a new parent dealing with colic, I hope this is helpful to you. Please share this information with other parents who may be struggling with similar issues. At Whole Family Chiropractic we are part of an incredible community of pediatric chiropractors. Check out the PX Docs website for more information on colic, subluxation, and the scans we use to locate the root cause of these issues. If you think that your child is likely experiencing stress on their nervous system, we encourage you to give us a call to schedule an appointment so we can take a deeper look into your baby’s nervous system.
By identifying and addressing the root cause of colic, we can help your child thrive and reach their developmental milestones.
So don’t wait – take action today and give your child the best possible start in life.
Want to learn more? Click here for the Colic and Reflux section of our website.