Unproven or dangerous treatments for colic

Do not use unapproved, unproven, or potentially dangerous substances or methods as treatment for your baby with colic.

Potentially dangerous treatments include:

  • Gripe water. Varying ingredients are used in blends labeled as gripe water. In some batches, alcohol is a main ingredient. Gripe water is an herbal home remedy that is not considered safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some companies sell gripe water in the United States as a dietary supplement, instead of as a medicine, bypassing FDA regulation.
  • Medicines, such as antispasmodics or sleep aids. These and other medicines can have potentially serious and even deadly side effects in infants. If your doctor prescribes them to treat other symptoms your baby is experiencing, be sure to follow the instructions carefully.
  • Placing a hot-water bottle on the baby's abdomen without checking it often. Babies burn easily—do not use heated items, such as heating pads.
  • Quieting a baby with alcohol. Even dipping a pacifier in brandy or other alcoholic drinks is dangerous.

Methods not proven effective include:

  • Stopping breast-feeding. Sometimes people believe that the mother may not be producing enough milk for the baby or that her baby is allergic to the milk. But this is rarely the case, and weaning a colicky baby to formula can make the colic worse.
  • Feeding foods (such as baby cereal and solids) earlier than recommended.
  • Switching to a soy-based formula when milk allergy symptoms are not present.

Last Updated: June 9, 2009

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