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Colic: Harmful Treatments


Using unapproved or unproven substances or methods to treat colic could harm your baby.

Treatments that could be dangerous include:

  • Medicines, such as antispasmodics or sleep aids. These and other medicines can have serious and even deadly side effects in infants. If your doctor prescribes them to treat other symptoms your baby is having, be sure to follow the instructions carefully.
  • Placing a hot-water bottle or heating pad on your baby's stomach. Babies burn easily, so do not use heated items such as these.
  • Quieting a baby with alcohol. It's even dangerous to give your baby a pacifier dipped in brandy or other types of alcohol.
  • Gripe water. Different kinds of ingredients are used in blends labeled as gripe water. Alcohol is a main ingredient in some of them. 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, to avoid FDA regulation.

Other things to avoid include:

  • Stopping breastfeeding. Sometimes people believe that they may not be producing enough milk for their baby or that their 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.

Related Information


Current as of: October 24, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.


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