Indian Home Remedies for Infant Stomach Pain, Gas, and Colic
How Do Babies Get Colic?
Whether you breastfeed or give formula milk, your infant may develop colic and cry because of gas and stomach pain. My child suffered from a colic problem until he was one year old. She cried for no reason and refused to nurse. This continued even after I started giving her solid food.
Babies develop gas because they do not move. Gas bubbles form in a baby's stomach, and this makes the baby "colicky." No matter whether you feed them lactogen, soy milk, mother’s milk, or other milk, gas and stomach pain is common for infants under six months of age. Many people recommend gripe water—a combination of sodium bicarbonate, dill oil, and fennel oil— but it never helped my child. She stopped crying when we gave him gripe water, and sometimes even sleep, but then she would wake up and cry. I also tried several other medicines my pediatrician prescribed for my baby’s colic, including Colicaid, but they did not work for my baby.
In the end, I found some Indian home remedies that worked, and I wish to share them with you:
Indian Herbal Remedies for Colic
- Uramarunnu herb mixture
- Mustard oil massage
- Warm water (to drink)
- Warm water bath
- Asafetida in warm water
Uramarunnu is a traditional colic herb mix popular in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and other Indian states. It is a combination of herbs which should be ground little by little and given to infants. The herbs are:
- Chukku (dried ginger, adrak in Hindi)
- Poondu or lehsun (garlic)
- Palkayam (asafetida or hing in Hindi)
- Jathikka or jaiphal (nutmeg)
- Vayambu (vasambu in Tamil, vasa bach in Hindi)
- Kasthoori manjal (a special kind of turmeric)
Rub each of the herbs lightly on a clean stone, once only. Altogether you need a quarter teaspoon of herb mix paste. Give this to your child once a day, or twice a day if the colic is severe. I used to give this to my baby twice a day. You can find the herb mix in ayurvedic shops.
2. Mustard Oil Massage
Giving an infant a massage with warm mustard oil (sarsom ka tel in Hindi and kadukenna in Malayalam) and a bath in warm water can alleviate gas problems and colic pain. Warm baths can also trigger sleepiness in a child. Massaging with mustard oil can improve blood circulation and encourage body movement so that gas can be expelled.
Here's what to do:
- Boil a little mustard oil with a few cloves of garlic (lehsun in Hindi).
- Let the oil cool.
- Massage your baby's chest and feet with the cooled oil.
3. Warm Water
Feeding a baby milk alone can make an infant vulnerable to colic and stomach pain. We give warm milk to babies, but when we give them warm water (make it warm to the level babies can withstand) as well, this can ease stomach pain. My child’s colic decreased a lot after I started giving him warm water. It seemed to bring out gas from his stomach. Afterwards, be sure to burp the baby. Offer warm water several times a day. You can add cumin seed and give this once a day. Don't offer give cumin water more than once a day.
You may have noticed that babies sometimes cry while passing gas. This is called stomach heat. Giving warm water several times a day can cure this problem.
- Add a little bit of asafetida to warm water. Use an amount about the size of two mustard seeds. Do not give more than that, as asafetida is a strong spice.
- Rubbing asafetida (perumkayam in Tamil, hing in Hindi) on your baby's stomach can also help. But applying externally is not as effective as giving internally. You can do both. Mix asafetida with warm water and apply to the navel area. LG asafetida is the best brand in India. Do not use powdered asafetida. Get the solid block, break off a little amount, and mix in warm water.
Garlic is one of the best remedies for colic, but it should not be given alone. On its own, garlic can burn the baby’s tongue. A little rub of garlic can be given along with jaiphal (nutmeg) or other herbs. Or mix with rice, roti, or other foods. Garlic (or lehsun) is best in its raw form.
What Nursing Mothers Can Eat to Relieve Infant Colic
- Papaya can relieve constipation in infants. If a child eliminates regularly, her colic problems will ease.
- Ginger (raw)
- Jeera water (cumin seed water)
- Ajwain water (ayamodakam in Malayalam, vomam in Tamil)
- Fennel seed (sauf in Hindi, perumjeerakam in Malayalam)
What Nursing Mothers Should Avoid
Nursing mothers should not eat:
- Dry fish and prawns
- Milk products like curd, ghee, butter, and cheese
- Citrus fruits like mosambi, orange, and lemon
- Spicy meat dishes
- Certain vegetables like tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage
- Chicken and beef
- Spices such as black pepper, red chili, green chili, cardamom, and cinnamon
I ate exclusively homemade food while I was breastfeeding. I never ate chocolate, cake, ghee, burgers, or pizza until my child was six months old. These precautions helped my baby recover from his colic problem.
Effective Burping Techniques
Everyone knows that babies need to be burped, but there are more and less effective ways to do this.
- Lie the baby down on your lap with their stomach pressed against your thigh. Pat their back and the gas should come out.
- Tummy time is a good gas prevention technique. Make child lie down on her stomach for a few minutes. The child can keep her head down and rest when you do this. She may also try to lift her head up. Do this for two or three minutes and repeat several times a day, but only under your supervision. Tummy time can strengthen muscles and will also push out gas from the stomach.