We have all heard of colicky babies but I had no idea how much those babies can cry. It turns out that 15-30% of infants in the Western world have colic which means that they cry for more than 3 hours a day and more than 3 days a week for more than 3 weeks. To be defined as severely colicky, these babies have a history of persistant, full-force crying for no apparent reason several times a day for a duration of more than 4 hours a day for more than 4 days a week. That is a lot of crying. And the solution is so simple:
In a study of healthy, breast fed babies, an herbal tea consisting of chamomile (Matriacaria recutita), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), and lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) did the trick. They were given small doses of tea (so as not to interfere with their desire to breast feed) twice a day. For the first three days, placebo and herbal tea worked about equally as well. But then: The herbal babies began by crying about 201.2 min/day [The parents must have been counting every second, praying for peace and quiet]. By day 7, the herbal babies were crying about 76.9 min/day. The placebo babies cried 198.7 min/day initially and were crying 169.9 min/day on day 7. Moreover, a reduction in crying was seen in 85.4% of the herbal babies.
The babies were given 2 ml/kg/day of tea in two doses. One at 5 PM and another at 8 PM shortly before feeding. Each dose contained 164 mg fennel, 177 mg chamomile, and 96 mg lemon balm. The effect of the tea lasted for 15 days after treatment.
Of course, you do not need to run out and buy a gram scale to make up the tea but the point made that the babies should not be given a large volume of tea makes good sense. Nor can I see any reason to stop giving the baby a tea that makes them stop crying. Imagine: Those old midwives and wise women were right when they suggested soothing herbal teas for fussy kids.
Savino F, Cresi F, Castagno E, et al. A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of a standardized extract of Matricariae recutita, Foeniculum vulgare and Melissa officinalis (ColiMil) in the treatment of breastfed colicky infants. Phytotherapy Research 2005; 19(4):335-340.