Unfortunately, most doctors, especially general pediatricians continue to dismiss colic and uncontrollable crying, reflux, vomiting, constipation, arching the back, and stiffening the neck in infants. They may have told you, “they’ll grow out of it”.
Most infants don’t grow out of colic, they grow into other challenges that are called different things. We’ll get into the cause, the neurology, the science, and also the solution of how to help your kiddo. Maybe this rings true because your child was colicky seven years ago and now is struggling with sensory processing disorder, anxiety, or other challenges. I’m going to get you the answers you need.
What Causes Colic?
Let’s first look at what is actually causing colic. We’re going to call it the root, root cause. The reason I say root twice is not to be redundant for no reason.
Most professionals in the traditional medical side and even on the natural medical side think colic and crying in an infant is caused by digestive issues and buildup of gas and indigestion. That can be accurate, it’s just incomplete. There’s something that happens before that.
The challenge is if we assume it’s just a gas, gut, or tummy issue, then when we go after the action steps that are specific to that issue. We will accomplish some good things. Most times mom will stop eating dairy or try to create a food journal to help remove all sorts of offending foods. They may add prune juice, probiotics, and/or colic drops to try and help their infant find relief. Some of it may work a little bit, and some of it doesn’t. None of it seems to get full resolution because it isn’t getting to the root, root cause.
The digestive system, especially in a brand-new baby, is completely under the control of what’s called the autonomic or central nervous system.
For babies, movement is king and what’s happening for colicky babies is they’re not able to move food along through the esophagus, into the stomach, into the intestines (small and large), and get it all through efficiently. They are not able to break apart the different nutrients, keeping what they need to grow and getting rid of the bad stuff so they don’t get sick or inflamed by it. All of this tension builds up in the digestive system, but it really first starts in the nervous system.
Now we’re still not done doing our CSI work and digging into the cause. So, what would trigger that stress or what we call subluxation? This article is all about subluxation and how the nervous system goes into what’s called dysautonomia, which is a stressed-out, out-of-balance nervous system. This usually shows up first as gut problems in a baby, which then becomes colic, crying, difficulty nursing, etc, which results in The Perfect Storm. It’s a vicious cycle and sequence of stress, but that stress starts on the nervous system first and it has triggers.
What tends to happen first is stress occurring, or even abnormal positioning of the baby, while the mom is going through the prenatal and pregnancy period. That builds up on mom’s nervous system if she is feeling stressed and anxious.
Unfortunately, we just don’t support, empower and help moms stay de-stressed during pregnancy. In fact, we just hurdle and pile on more stress, fear, and anxiety. That stress and tension make their way to the baby because the mom’s nervous system is the baby’s nervous system when they’re developing in utero. The biggest cause of colic and other challenges happens right in front of us. But because medicine hasn’t quite figured it out and doesn’t point it out, it really is birth trauma.
the trauma Caused By Birth Intervention
Birth intervention or birth trauma, things like c-sections, forceps, vacuum, and inductions, are what we find in the case histories of kiddos with colic nearly 100% of the time. That physical stress goes onto the neck and nervous system. The neck, especially the upper area, skull, and entire spinal system is the conduit, that’s the control mechanism or fuse box for this autonomic nervous system. There’s a very important nerve up there called the vagus nerve that travels down all the way through the neck and it relaxes and opens up the esophagus. It stimulates and turns on the stomach and digestive motility. So when we have this physical tension from pregnancy and or labor and delivery, there’s this subluxation or stress that sets up shop and it gets in the way of the vagus nerve.
Here’s what you can change the word colic to: stuck.
When a baby gets stuck in the birth canal and birth intervention happens, stress then gets stuck on the central nervous system. Traditionally the first two places it gets stuck are up in the neck area and in the middle of the back, which is why when they’re colicky, they’re arching their neck, stiffening their back, and leaning all the way back. They’re trying to get the tension out of their neck and spine. Same as you do after you sit at your desk all day long, full of stress. You stretch and arch your back. That is literally what a baby is doing. They are signaling to us through what they’re doing with their body – the problem isn’t in my stomach, the problem is in my spine and nervous system.
That’s why pediatric chiropractic can help. Now you need to see the right kind of chiropractor that is trained, experienced, and knows exactly how to find this stress intention on a baby’s nervous system. When you see a baby get adjusted, it is the smoothest, easiest, safest, and unbelievably impactful thing.
Can Babies grow out of Colic?
As I mentioned, generally the catalyst of that stress, which leads to colic and other challenges, was at birth and pregnancy and it gets stuck in the physical system. So do they grow out of this? No, they don’t. Because that motor system on the inside controls digestive motility. The same subluxation, trouble with the vagus nerves and all the nerves coming from the brain stem area is where all of our motor development – head and neck control, pushing up, tummy time, rolling over, sitting up, army crawling, regular crawling – is governed, coordinated, and controlled by the same upper area that is injured during birth. So stress up here causes colic, indigestion, and chronic recurrent ear infections.
This same explanation would work if I changed out the anatomy from the stomach to the ear, nose, throat, and lymphatic system and we’d be talking about recurrent ear infections in your four, six, eight, ten, or twelve-month-old.
It’s the same problem – subluxation, bad plumbing, and bad drainage. It builds up stress and sickness, so what we see is colicky babies tend to grow into recurrent ear infections, sinus congestion, asthma, croup, RSV prone babies. That leads to a lot of antibiotics that destroy the gut. There may be nebulizers and steroids which amp up and stress out the nervous system even more. Now you have a child moving towards things like sensory processing disorder, ADHD, high energy, meltdowns, sensitivity, and emotional dysregulation. So what we’ve seen in 15 years running is that kids don’t grow out of colic.
If your kiddo is struggling with these challenges or you know a mama who has a colicky baby and they’re trying prune juice, probiotics and changing their diet and getting nowhere…. Or if you know a family who has what we call a “Perfect Stormer”, who’s got sensory and autism and they can remember back that this child was a fussy baby, tell them about pediatric chiropractic.
Once you know why your kiddo is struggling then you know what to do in order to help, which is to get them to a neurologically focused, trained, and ready pediatric chiropractor and we have the best of the best all throughout the world.
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If someone is still telling you today, “don’t worry, they’ll grow out of it”, they don’t know the latest science and real neurology behind colic, reflux, and all these other challenges in our little ones that we’ve normalized. When you take your little one to the chiropractor that early, you see changes that early because while the stress on the nervous system still may be there, the faster, quicker, and easier we can get it out of there. There is math to what we call neuroplasticity, which simply means that the earlier we get started, the quicker we see changes.
I’ll leave you with this, God made our kids to heal and we just need to help them do that. That is what a trained, neurologically focused pediatric chiropractor can do by getting the stress off of their system so that they can heal the way they were designed.
Thank you all for giving us a chance to help your kiddos. Keep searching for answers and never give up hope no matter what they’re struggling with. You will find the people, community, providers, and pediatric chiropractors you need to get your child to start healing. We can’t wait to see the results that come for future generations.