One of our priorities here at The Baby Sleep Site® (aside from doing everything we can to help your baby sleep!) is to stay on top of current sleep-related research and best practice recommendations. Nicole and our team of sleep consultants really are sleep experts, but there’s a reason for that – they keep up with what’s happening in the field of sleep research!
Well, last week, one of our consultants forwarded a new and interesting article on to the rest of us. This article, from NPR’s health blog, poses the question, “Can probiotics help soothe colicky babies?”
Given that colic can lead to lots of nighttime waking, we were all ears! So what’s the scoop? Can probiotics help colicky babies? Or is this just another ‘cure’ that’s not actually a cure, like melatonin supplements?
Let’s take a look!
What Are Probiotics, And How Do They Help Newborns And Young Babies?
Simply put, probiotics (also known as ‘lactobacillus‘) are good bacteria. This is the type of bacteria found in the human digestive system – it’s the bacteria that helps us digest our food properly, and that prevents things like diarrhea and constipation.
What does this have to do with newborns and young babies? Well, as it turns out, many people (from parents to doctors and medical researchers) believe that colic symptoms are due largely to baby tummy troubles, like gas and bloating for example. The theory is that colicky babies in particular struggle with stomach problems, and that’s where the long bouts of inconsolable crying come from.
It follows, then, that giving newborns and young babies a dose of probiotics would help ease their tummy troubles, and would thereby reduce (or maybe even eliminate) their colicky symptoms.
This seems logical – but is it true? Does it actually work?
Are Probiotics A Cure For Colic?
Here’s the short answer – maybe.
Here’s the longer explanation. According to the NPR blog article, several studies (mostly done in Europe) have shown a link between probiotics and reduced colic symptoms. So it does seem that there’s some connection between the two. Even more interesting, though, is a recent study published by the JAMA Pediatrics, which indicates that probiotics may actually be useful in preventing colic.
Yes, you read that right — it might be possible to actually prevent colic. To put it lightly – wow!!
How does it work? Well, the theory is that offering probiotics actually helps a baby’s digestive system develop properly, which can in turn prevent chronic tummy issues, like gas and indigestion. Prevent those, and you can possibly prevent colic. From the article:
“There are a number of effects that we know probiotics can have,” says Dr. Robert Shulman, a professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. For example, probiotics may affect the immune system, improve the lining of the intestine and influence the balance of bacteria living in the digestive system, Shulman says.
But don’t rush out and buy every probiotic on the shelf just yet — this research is still very much in its infancy (no pun intended!), and Shulman cautions that much more research needs to be done before any broad, sweeping recommendations can be made. This means that, if you have a colicky baby at home, you will need to discuss any probiotic supplements with your baby’s healthcare provider first, before offering them.
Tips From The Baby Sleep Site® Sleep Consultants
This is all interesting stuff (especially to those of us who are Baby Sleep Site employees, and who are therefore obsessed with sleep!) But does it really work? And how can you put this information to work at home?
I asked our sleep consultants to share their own personal experiences with colic remedies, to see if probiotics proved useful for them. Here’s what they had to say:
- Shaye’s daughter had colic, but the probiotics that Shaye gave her didn’t help much. As it turns out, Shaye’s little one didn’t have simple colic and actually needed medication to control her symptoms.
- Miriam tried probiotics with one of her babies, but didn’t like them, and didn’t think they were effective. She says Colic Calm™ was a better solution for her family.
- Sarah (one of our newest sleep consultants – check out her bio!) found probiotics extremely helpful in controlling her daughter’s colic. She had a pediatrician recommend them early on, and as she puts it, “I haven’t looked back!”
Of course, there’s no telling exactly what will work best for your colicky baby – you won’t know until you try various remedies. Just be sure not to offer any probiotics to your baby or toddler without first speaking to your healthcare provider.
Okay, parents – share your tips! How did you cope / are you coping with a colicky baby? Share your wisdom with us!
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