Medications and colic

Medications are not used to treat babies who have colic. Instead, parents and caregivers focus on home treatment measures, such as comforting the child and creating a calm environment.

Medicines may be used when a health professional suspects your baby also has another condition that makes crying episodes worse. Use medications exactly as instructed by your health professional because they have a high risk for side effects.

Digestive problems can make crying in a colicky baby worse. Your health professional may recommend:

  • Gas reducers, such as simethicone (Mylicon Drops, Phazyme Drops). Several large studies have shown simethicone ineffective in reducing crying in babies with colic. Do not give anti-flatulents to your baby without talking with your health professional about when to give them and how much to give. Simethicone is an ingredient in many anti-gas products for adults (such as Extra-Strength Maalox Plus, Mylanta, and Riopan). Do not give these adult medications to your baby.
  • Fiber-based laxatives for constipation, such as Citrucel. They usually are added to a bottle of breast milk or formula.
  • Acid reducers, such as Pepcid or Zantac, for gastroesophageal reflux.

Medications that should not be used

Do not use the following medications; they are not effective treatment for colic and are dangerous for babies. Medications to avoid include:

  • Lactose digestive aids, such as Lactaid.
  • Sleep aids, which usually include hypnotics and sedatives (such as chloral hydrate, phenobarbital, and scopolamine hydrobromide [for example, Donnatal]). These medications can have life-threatening side effects.
  • Muscle relaxants. A mixture of dimenhydrinate (such as Dramamine) and scopolamine hydrobromide (such as Donnatal) has been used to relax muscles in the intestines of babies with colic. However, the mixture also affects the nervous system and has potentially serious heart, breathing, and digestive system effects. Donnatal contains 23% alcohol.
  • Antispasmodics, such as dicyclomine hydrochloride (for example, Bentyl) and hyoscyamine sulfate (for example, Levsin). These have serious side effects. For example, Bentyl can cause a baby to stop breathing, have seizures, or even to die suddenly. It is no longer approved for use in the United States in babies younger than 6 months of age.

Last Updated: June 9, 2009

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