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After what seems like forever, you finally deliver a perfectly healthy baby. Despite their inverted waking schedules and constant diaper changes, all is well the first two weeks. And then suddenly, the baby erupts into what sounds more like screaming than crying, complete with flailing legs, red face and clenched fists. No matter what you try, the baby is inconsolable and seems to get angrier the more you try. This goes on for hours and seems to happen every day around the same time. Welcome to infantile colic, commonly known as baby colic.
If your newborn is suffering like this, finding the best formula for colic and gas can make a big difference. In our search for the perfect colic baby formula, we tried more than a few options, and this here is our first-hand review and experience on the 6 best formulas for colic and gas babies.
Here are the colic formulas I will be reviewing:
- Enfamil NeuroPro Gentlease Baby Formula
- Gerber Good Start Sooth Powder
- Similac Alimentum Hypoallergenic
- Enfamil Nutramigen Hypoallergenic Colic Baby Formula
- PurAmino Hypoallergenic Infant and Toddler Formula
- Earth’s Best Organic Low Lactose Sensitivity
What is Baby Colic?
Colic is not a medical diagnosis. It can only be described as episodes or attacks of sudden crying for more than three hours a day, atleast three days a week for more than three weeks. It is an unexplained crying that seems to be coming from an aching stomach, thanks to the baby’s fist clenching and facial expressions, but it doesn’t let up for a prolonged period.
Usually, colic begins 2 to 3 weeks after birth, a bit later for preterm babies and peaks at around six weeks. By week 10 to 12, it should be getting less frequent and eventually disappear on its own.
Difference between Colic and Normal Crying
The truth is, babies cry; more so during their first weeks on earth. It’s the only way for them to communicate when they need to be fed, changed, held or put to sleep.
There is a big difference between normal crying and colic though;
- For starters, the crying is high-pitched, full of anger and pain, and sounds like screaming.
- Unlike normal crying, which ends when you meet their need, it’s almost impossible to soothe a colic baby, and the cry can even get worse.
- Crying happens every day around the same time in the evening and lets up after midnight when the baby is too tired to cry anymore.
- The baby pulls their limbs, clenches their fists and painfully arches their back.
- The crying goes on for weeks, and it can happen every evening.
- Bowel activity increase and the baby may also spit up or pass gas frequently.
- The crying can start suddenly, even when the baby is asleep or breastfeeding.
- Colic disappears after 10 weeks to 3 months, so if it goes beyond that, it may not be colic.
What Causes Colic?
Despite the earth-shattering medical discoveries over the years, colic is still a mystery to doctors and parents alike. Nobody knows for sure why it happens, why it suddenly goes away with time and why it affects some babies and not others.
That said, there exist some theories that try to explain the causes of baby colic;
- Overstimulation. Babies are born with a mechanism to tune out any sights or sounds around, allowing them to sleep around the clock. By week 3, this mechanism wears off, leaving babies to deal with a lot of stimuli. These sensations can become overwhelming for some babies, causing them to be cranky and extremely irritated by the end of the day. According to this theory, babies adjust to the stimuli with time, which is around the time colic ends.
- Immature digestive system. Digesting milk is a huge task for a baby’s new GI system. As a result, the milk can pass through too fast before its completely broken down, resulting in gas and pain in the intestines.
- Acid reflux. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs due to an underdeveloped lower esophageal sphincter- a muscle that keeps stomach acid from flowing back up your throat. Apart from the abnormal crying that is characteristic to colic, babies with GERD also experience poor eating, frequent spitting up and irritability after eating.
- Tobacco exposure. Several studies have shown that children born of smoking mothers are twice as likely to get colic. Though the connection between tobacco and colic is still unclear, pregnant mothers should not smoke and stay away from any second-hand smoke.
- Food allergies. A good number of experts believe that lactose intolerance in formula-fed babies can cause colic. Some breastfed babies can also be allergic to the food their mom is consuming such as cruciferous vegetables, dairy and wheat.
READ ALSO: Infant Growth And Development: 0-3 months
Colic Remedies and Treatment
Because colic is not a diagnosis, there is no particular treatment for it. Over the years, mothers and the medical fraternity have found a few remedies that soothe a baby with colic, giving some much-needed relief to the parents. It’s advisable to try only one of these remedies for a while before jumping into the next to avoid overloading the baby’s circuits.
Too much stimulation has been associated with colic. It is therefore advisable to try and mimic the womb environment during the first 2 to 3 months of a child’s life until they adapt to being in the world. Avoid situations with a lot of noise, sights and sounds, including TV and people.
You can make their environment as calm as possible by dimming the lights, speaking in hush tones and bringing in some white noise to soothe the baby. If possible, keep visitors at bay at least a few months.
Apply pressure to the baby’s tummy a few times a day
You can try a tummy massage, especially after a bath or place them face-down on your lap such that your arm is pressing the stomach, while you gently rub their back. The technique used to burp a baby after feeding also seems to work because it releases gas from the stomach. Apart from applying pressure to relieve any pain or gas, a simple touch from a mother works wonders.
Try antigas drops
Since gas seems to be a significant culprit to colic, anything that will help reduce it will help. Antigas drops made with simethicone break up gas bubbles and allow it to move out freely. However, make sure to check with a pediatrician before trying the drops.
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that grow naturally in the digestive tract to promote overall health and digestion. Giving the baby some probiotic drops can help with digestion and ease stomach problems. However, there is zero evidence that it can help with colic if it’s not related to gas and bloating.
Switch to colic baby formula
If you are breastfeeding, it’s essential to watch what you are eating and avoid foods that can cause gas or allergic reactions to the baby. Such foods include eggs, soy, dairy, peanuts, fish and cruciferous veggies. However, it’s extremely rare for breast milk to cause allergic reactions to infants.
Baby formula, on the other hand, is a common culprit to stomach issues and colic pain. Lactose, a protein found in dairy and dairy-based formula is hard to digest, even in adults with a fully developed system. Infants have a more challenging time digesting the protein as it is unless it’s broken down into tiny, more digestible particles.
Studies have shown that hypoallergenic whey-hydrolyzed formula decreases colic episodes. Make sure you steer clear of casein-hydrolyzed and partially-hydrolyzed Formula though as these will do nothing for the colic. Talk to the pediatrician also before switching Formula to get the best recommendation
Best Formula for Colic and Gas
Enfamil Nutramigen Hypoallergenic Colic Baby Formula
The Enfamil range of colic products is nothing short of amazing, which is why we have included two of their formulas in this list. Unlike NeuroPro Gentlease, Enfamil Nutramigen Hypoallergenic Colic Baby Formula contains no lactose. That alone solves the problem of gassiness and allergies associated with lactose sensitivity.
The Formula is designed with sensitive tummies in mind, and none is more sensitive than a baby with colic. According to Enfamil, Nutramigen Hypoallergenic formula will reduce future allergy flare-ups by 50% for infants.
As a cherry on top of delicious pie, the Formula has tons of prebiotics and LGG baby probiotics to enhance the digestive tract. It’s also packed with DHA omega 3 fatty acids, ARA and choline to promote healthy growth and development from the word go.
- Hypoallergenic and contains no lactose or sucrose
- Fast results in as little as 24-48 hours
- Reduces future allergy flare-ups, which will make it easy to transition to a traditional milk-based formula
- Includes LGG probiotics, DHA, ARA and choline
- Contains corn syrup which is not every parent’s cup of tea
- While they have tried to improve the taste, hypoallergenic formulas still taste a bit strange, and babies can refuse to drink
Enfamil NeuroPro Gentlease Baby Formula
It is no accident that Enfamil NeuroPro Gentlease Baby Formula is the number one colic formula in this list and across the board. In clinical trials, Enfamil NeuroPro reduced gas and associated crying in 24 hours. This is perhaps because the protein therein is broken down into digestible particles easy on the baby’s stomach.
The formula is also the closest thing to breast milk. It contains the recommended levels of fat-protein blend of MFGM and DHA to support a baby’s growing mind. MFGM supports cognitive development while DHA supports mental, visual and immune system development. Enfamil NeuroPro Gentlease provides complete nutrition for babies during the first year.
It is loaded with easy-to-digest proteins, minerals and vitamins to promote growth and immune health. As if that wasn’t enough, the blend also has dual probiotics to help the process of digestion and keep the stomach problem-free.
- Enfamil NeuroPro Gentlease is available in various formats powders, ready-to-use and super-saver refill packs.
- It’s the best alternative for babies who are bottle feeding because it’s rich in vitamins, minerals and omega-3 DHA required for baby’s development but children who are breastfed also adapt to it quickly because it’s just like breast milk.
- Its organic and does not contain GMO
- It’s a bit expensive
- Some parents complain that it leaves an oily residue on the bottle.
Gerber Good Start Sooth Powder
Gerber Good Start Sooth powder ticks all the boxes when it comes to features of a colic formula. It has however made a name for the level and quality of probiotics and prebiotics in the blend. Probiotics and prebiotics help by maintaining a healthy digestive tract, hence make food digestion easy.
Gerber Good Start Sooth powder goes a step further to make digestion as easy as possible by using comfort proteins. This is a form of partially digested proteins which means the baby won’t have a lot of work to do. It only contains 30% lactose, which is also broken down into smaller particles for easy digestion. The ease of digestion can alleviate colic for the most part so you can have a peaceful, happy baby.
This formula mimics breast milk in every way. It contains DHA and human milk oligosaccharide (HMO) for brain health and development. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid, produced in tiny quantities in the body, so it’s good to get it from oily fish for optimum brain health and immunity.
- It is safe and contains no GMO
- Very affordable
- Specially designed to soothe babies with colic
- Offers complete nutrition for your baby up to 12 months
- It’s harder to dissolve in water
- It does not have the best taste, so some babies may refuse it.
Similac Alimentum Hypoallergenic
The name of this formula gives away what it’s all about. If your baby is allergic to lactose or casein, commonly in cow milk, this formula is for you. That doesn’t mean it’s not made of cow milk though; the Formula has pre-digested milk protein which means it’s already broken down and easier to digest.
Like the Enfamil range of colic formulas, Similac Alimentum Hypoallergenic promises to reduce colic crying within 24 hours. The hypoallergenic formula contains complete nutrients for babies under 12 months, one of which is iron to enhance vital functions in the body and the immune system.
It also comes packed with DHA, an omega-3 compound crucial for brain development because babies only have a tiny amount in the body. ARA is another critical component in breast milk, and it’s good for the eyes as well as the brain.
- the formula is safe and contains no GMO
- includes essential nutrients like iron, DHA and ARA
- uses pre-digested milk protein to ease colic symptoms in 24 hours
- Interestingly, Similac Alimentum Hypoallergenic lacks probiotics and prebiotics that make the digestive tract healthy and efficient.
- Some parents say it has an unpleasant smell, and it’s costly.
PurAmino Hypoallergenic Infant and Toddler Formula
If your baby is allergic to soy, cow milk, and other food products, giving them a hypoallergenic formula can help. PurAmino Hypoallergenic Infant and Toddler Formula is a fantastic hypoallergenic blend, meaning its likelihood to cause an allergic reaction is almost zero. It can be a substitute for breast milk up to 6 months of age and a supplement for up to 2 years.
PurAmino Hypoallergenic formula is an amino-based hydrolyzed blend fortified with iron, DHA and ARA to support brain and eye development. Besides being hypoallergenic, the Formula is based on broken-down protein so babies won’t have a hard time digesting and processing it. This makes it suitable for other conditions besides colic, including eosinophilic esophagitis and malabsorption.
Of course, you should seek the advice of a pediatrician before using this or any other formula to combat such conditions.
- Works wonders for babies with protein allergies and colic
- Suitable for other conditions such as malabsorption, eosinophilic esophagitis and maldigestion
- Suitable as a stand-alone nutritional source up to six months
- Amino acid-based
- Added nutrients like DHA and ARA for optimum growth and development
- It doesn’t have the best smell or taste and can easily put off the baby
- It’s costly
Earth’s Best Organic Low Lactose Sensitivity
If you are a parent who prefers all-natural or organic products, this Earth’s Best Organic Low Lactose Sensitivity may be what you need. The basic approach is that it contains no artificial and allergy-inducing ingredients that can encourage colic. This means no artificial colors, flavors or synthetic fertilizers or GMO.
This formula is certified as organic by the FDA, and it assures parents that it’s well befitting of the name. As a key point, the Formula has very little lactose, which reduces colic instances and completely eliminates the fussiness and crying in a few days.
Earth’s Best Organic formula has a blend of carbohydrates that are easy for your baby’s developing stomach and fortified with iron to help with growth and brain development. The formula also contains probiotics to help the baby’s digestive system work better, which prevents constipation and discomfort.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a complete baby formula without the powerful duo; omega-3 DHA for brain development and ARA for eye development.
- Its FDA organic certified
- Contains minimal lactose
- It’s fortified with iron
- Includes probiotics for digestion and immunity
- Includes DHA and ARA
- Earth’s Best Organic formula contains corn syrup and palm oil which some parents don’t approve.
Choosing the Best Formula for Colic and Gas
The best formula colic and gas may still contain lactose, but it has to be broken down (hydrolyzed) into tiny particles that will not cause any digestion problems in the child. For lactose-intolerant kids, a lactose-free formula should work well.
When shopping for the best formula for colic and gas, you should look at the ingredients, preparation and health concerns.
Baby Formula must contain a good amount of protein to help the baby grow. Most Formulas use cow milk because it’s cheaper, readily available and tastes good. For colic babies however, especially if they are lactose intolerant, you can choose a lactose-free formula with soy milk or protein hydrolysate instead of dairy. Corn syrup can also be a substitute for lactose in Formula.
Apart from protein, colic Formula should also have additives that encourage growth. Common additives include iron, DHA, and ARA. DHA and ARA are synthesized fatty acids found in breast milk. They are crucial for eye and brain development. Iron strengthens bones, and enhances muscle growth. Prebiotics and probiotics are also essential elements to add to Formula. Prebiotics stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria while probiotics fight off harmful bacteria and keep your digestive tract healthy.
Hypoallergenic baby formula is an excellent choice if your baby has colic. The product is made of organic ingredients, and it’s free of all allergens. However, some times companies use the term hypoallergenic just to push sales, so ask your doctor to recommend one instead.
After trying all the formulas on this list and listening to the reviews of other parents, it’s clear that Enfamil’s Nutramigen is the best formula for colic. It meets all the requirements of a colic formula by having no lactose and including a lot of DHA, ARA, probiotics and prebiotics. This Enfamil formula takes good care of your baby by providing them with all the nutrients they need at that age, while cutting out any colic triggers.
After six months to a year, you can try PurAmino Hypoallergenic Infant and Toddler Formula. This formula is better suited for that age as a supplement for real food. That said, make sure to talk to your pediatrician before choosing any colic baby formula to ensure it’s safe to do so. The doctor may even recommend some other things you can do to relief colic crying besides using the best Formula for colic.