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Chiropractic Blog

Chiropractic Care for Babies with Colic

Published Date: 
July 6, 2023
Colicky baby in hooded sweater crying, with the mother trying to console them.

Colic is a common problem for babies. It refers to bouts of intense, frequent, and prolonged crying. Although common, colic is one of the most frustrating experiences new parents can have because it’s so difficult to determine what’s causing their baby’s distress. No amount of consoling calms a colicky baby. Additionally, colic episodes often occur at night when everyone is tired.

Most babies experience colic around six weeks of age. Symptoms include:

  • Intense crying that seems like screaming or an expression of pain
  • Crying for no apparent reason and that won’t ease no matter what parents do
  • Extreme fussiness, even when crying diminishes
  • Predictable timing, mainly in the evenings
  • Facial reddening
  • Body tension, including pulled up or stiffened legs, clenched fists, stiffened arms, tense abdomen, or arched back

Symptoms tend to improve around three to four months of age. 

While there is no cure for colic, treating the underlying conditions causing colic might be possible. Chiropractic care is one of the most effective tools parents have for resolving issues with colic. A variety of at-home remedies can be used to reduce the frequency and severity of bouts of colic.

Crying colicky baby with scrunched face.

Common Causes of Colic

There is no single specific cause of colic. Most of the time, colic occurs due to various contributing factors often related to digestion.

The most common contributing factors to bouts of colic include:

Gas, Constipation & Acid Reflux

Digestive issues, including gas, constipation, and acid reflux, often contribute to colic. 

Babies are at risk of acid reflux because of their developing esophagus muscles. This is why they so often spit up after eating. Severe reflux can cause:

  • Vomiting
  • Refusal to feed
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Slow growth
  • Frequent lung infections

In addition to acid reflux, babies might experience gas. This can be caused by:

  • Swallowing air, which can occur because they latch onto the breast incorrectly, babble, or nurse in less-than-optimal positions
  • Excessive crying, which causes them to swallow air
  • Immature digestive tract
  • Acid reflux and other minor digestive disturbances
  • Gastrointestinal viruses
  • Introduction of new foods

Another problem that can lead to colic is constipation. Babies are at risk of constipation if they have the following:

  • Insufficient fluid intake
  • Low-fiber diet
  • Excess starch in their diet
  • Fed with formula if breast milk isn’t available 

Parents can help relieve baby constipation by offering sufficient fluids, using bowel massage and movement, and making dietary modifications. 

How a Chiropractor Can Help Ease Colic Symptoms

One of parents' most effective tools for easing colic for their babies is chiropractic care. It naturally treats colic symptoms without medications and other potentially risky treatments.

Chiropractor massaging back of infant sitting on treatment table.

Chiropractors provide gentle, hands-on treatment that helps ease the pain of colic. They also identify the potential causes of colic and treat the root of the problem. 

For many babies, restoring the normal alignment and motion of the head and neck helps a baby’s nervous system relax. 

Chiropractic care works for colicky babies because it brings their bodies back into balance. It might not seem like a newborn would be under that much stress, but just the process of birth twists, squeezes, and rotates their tiny bodies. Their journey through the birth canal can be enough to misalign their spine. It can also lead to compressed nerves that interfere with normal bodily functions such as digestion.

If the problems that occur during birth are never corrected, it can lead to problems during the first several months of a baby’s life. This is why many chiropractors recommend treatment even if a baby has not yet developed colic symptoms. Treatments can prevent infant colic and other issues from developing as a baby grows.

There is evidence that chiropractic care helps babies with colic, even if pediatricians don’t always recommend treatment for their colicky patients. 

In a study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, more than 90 percent of parents saw improved colicky babies after chiropractic treatment. Other studies showed positive effects on colic symptoms in infants after chiropractic adjustment and improvements in mood and behavior in toddlers still experiencing digestive and colic symptoms.

At-Home Tips for Soothing Colic Babies

In addition to chiropractic care, there are several things parents can do at home to soothe their colicky babies. These things can be done alone or in conjunction with chiropractic treatments.

Baby with legs pulled in to torso.

If your baby is colicky, try the following:

  • Laying them on their tummies until they calm down
  • Carrying them
  • Practicing repetitive motions such as rocking or bouncing
  • Holding them upright after they finish feeding
  • Adding infant cereal to breast milk or formula to thicken the liquid
  • Swaddling or wrapping 
  • Pacifiers
  • Massage
  • White noise machine
  • Adjusting the temperature in the nursery or room where they sleep


Dealing with a colicky baby is a frequent but frustrating experience for parents. Finding ways to soothe colic and resolve the root cause of the problem is one of the best ways to have a happy, healthy baby. Chiropractic care can be used to soothe colicky babies and ensure healthy development.

Dr. Darren Faherty D.C.

In 2004, Dr. Darren Faherty graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in Biology from UWEC - University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. Dr. Darren continued education at the highly esteemed University of Western States (formerly Western States Chiropractic College) where he obtained his chiropractic degree in 2007. He has been helping people recover from injuries and return to their normal lifestyles ever since.

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