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A Neurological Approach to Coping with a Colicky Baby

Updated May 22, 2024

Reviewed By: Vanessa Leikvoll

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s an exhausted parent, there is little relief as comforting a colicky baby through yet another restless night proves futile. You desperately long to understand why your once peaceful infant now screams for hours on end many days a week, begging for an answer that remains hard to find.  

About 25% of babies suffer from colic, a common condition characterized by intense crying bouts that last more than 3 hours a day. This exceeds the realm of typical fussiness during a critical growth period and can leave parents feeling confused and exhausted.

Fortunately, there is good news. New research suggests that neurological subluxations are often the culprit behind the digestive upset causing colic in your baby. Proper, Neurologically-Focused Chiropractic Care can address these subluxations, and families can find much-needed relief.

In this article, we’ll explore what colic is, some strategies for caring for a colicky baby, and how a drug-free, neurological care plan can get to the root of your baby’s colic. 

What is Colic?

Colic is defined as inconsolable crying in an otherwise healthy baby who cries for more than three hours a day, at least three days a week, and for more than three weeks.

The alarming crying spells tend to begin around 2 weeks of age, peak around 6-8 weeks, and often subsides by 3-4 months. Colicky babies may also:

  • scream as if in terrible pain
  • clench their fists
  • tense their limbs
  • arch their back

Colicky bouts often begin in the early evening. Unlike hunger cries or wet diaper whines, a colicky baby resists soothing, and nothing seems to comfort them. Cries remain intense until suddenly subsiding when exhaustion sets in—only to repeat the distressing cycle tomorrow.  

While doctors brush it off as an annoying phase, we now recognize colic as an SOS signaling disruption in a baby’s developing digestive and nervous systems. Letting these foundational systems struggle portends chronic health issues later on. 

Therefore, to prevent future challenges, the root cause must be addressed.

Causes of a Colicky Baby

Conventional medicine still claims that the cause of colic is mostly unknown. However, scientific reviews reveal how subluxation and neurological dysfunction drive these digestive difficulties. Additionally, subluxation is known to negatively impact muscular or motor tone throughout the body and disrupt sleep cycles and the infant’s soothing abilities.

To understand colic, we must first introduce the vagus nerve—a critical information highway between digestive organs and the brain. This parasympathetic channel coordinates hunger cues, intestinal motility, metabolism, and waste elimination when functioning well. 

However, forces such as strained neck muscles from difficult delivery, birth trauma, and abnormal baby positioning can interfere with this key communication highway. When subluxation and neurological interference surround these delicate and essential neurological “control centers” and the vagus nerve, it immediately disrupts digestive functions like latching, swallowing, motility, absorption, and elimination. 

This neuromuscular tension also builds up on the “outside.” It can lead to discomfort and asymmetry of the neck muscles, even leading to common co-related conditions like torticollis and plagiocephaly

“The Perfect Storm” of Factors Linking Colic to Chronic Health Issues

Research reveals how unresolved neurological dysfunction and digestive troubles in infancy set the stage for chronic health issues later on. We refer to the cascade of external events causing these initial unresolved issues as “The Perfect Storm.”   

Scientists now understand that colic and reflux in infants may indicate an imbalance in the vagus nerve and autonomic nervous system. This can lead to inflammation, poor immunity, and gut disorders over time. The excessive crying associated with these conditions can also overstimulate a baby’s stress pathways, making them more susceptible to anxiety, sensory disorders, and poor resilience later on in life.

Parents may also experience significant distress when their baby is suffering. This can lead to depression, relationship conflict, and, in extreme cases, even shaken baby syndrome.

Instead of dismissing colic as a temporary issue, we encourage parents to see it as a potential sign of neurological dysfunction that requires prompt attention. By identifying the underlying cause of these challenges and restoring conductive neurological pathways, parents can help set their child toward healthy development rather than chronic dysfunction.

Restoring Neurological Pathways For Colicky Babies 

At PX Docs, we use specialized imaging technology called INSiGHT Scans to locate regions of neurological dysfunction that trigger digestive upset objectively. Combining these scans with thermal scans, EMG, and heart rate variability tests allows us to visualize neurological dysregulation patterns impairing critical vagus nerve communication, digestive motility and function, and more.

Once we have identified the root interference behind digestive distress and overall discomfort, we use noninvasive techniques to restore healthy neurological coordination. Over a period of a few weeks or months, our Neurological Restoration Care Plans work to restore full and optimal nervous system regulation, digestive function, relaxation, comfort, and optimal growth and development for the previously distressed infant. 

Honoring Colic’s Call and Rewriting the Ending

Seeing colicky babies transform from crying and inconsolable to happy and content is a true testament to the impact of Neurologically-Focused Chiropractic Care. As parents, we can’t ignore the pain that colicky babies experience. Instead, we must address it at the root and work to restore their pathway toward lifelong neurological health and development. 

If you’re a parent struggling with a baby who seems to be in constant pain, don’t give up. To address the symptoms of colic, consider Neurologically-Focused Chiropractic Care today. This drug-free solution will get to the root cause of the neurological dysfunction causing a colicky baby. Visit our PX Docs’ Directory to connect with a trained Pediatric Chiropractor near you. 

PX Docs has established sourcing guidelines and relies on relevant, and credible sources for the data, facts, and expert insights and analysis we reference. You can learn more about our mission, ethics, and how we cite sources in our editorial policy.

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