Expert / 7 March, 2017 / Peter Walker

What IS Colic? And How Baby Massage Can Help

What IS colic?

Colic is the name given to repeated episodes of intense crying, often at the same time of day, or late afternoon with no apparent cause. Symptoms of colic include very tight abdominal muscles, sudden and loud crying and a red face with intense facial expressions, all of which are indicative of pain. Other physical symptoms may include the baby drawing their limbs in towards their tummy.

Always best to check out expressions of intensity like these with your doctor or health care provider as they can also be symptomatic of far more serious disorders.

What can I do to help my baby?

Provided colic has been diagnosed by your doctor / healthcare provider there are a number of things that you may wish to try to make things more comfortable for both you and your baby. Firstly, try to stay relaxed when holding your baby and if you become stressed try to elicit some family assistance to keep your baby ‘in arms’.

Here’s a couple of Developmental Baby Massage’ techniques that have proven to be extremely effective, especially when used together:

Before picking your baby up, breathe out and focus on your out breath, try to relax your tummy while holding your baby. Tiger in the Tree is a good technique to try first. I have used this successfully with my own children and some of those who have been brought to me in extreme distress.

This simple holding technique allows you to hold your baby in both arms (much easier to sustain) while gently placing your hand across your babies tummy to help your baby relax. Relax the tummy and you will relax your baby. You can also try gently patting the diaphragm and rocking your baby gently from the hips down while holding your baby in this position.

You can try ‘Tiger in the Tree’ when your baby is at their most distressed. Show your partner so you can take it in turns to comfort your baby in this position. As the baby is turned away from the breast they will not ‘root’ for milk. If your baby fails to respond to this you may wish to try a light feed, food can be a great source of comfort as well as a source of nourishment.

When your baby is calm and at their best, try this ‘Cranial Sacral’ technique. Sometimes birth can cause torsion in the baby’s neck and compression in the neck and shoulders as they come through the birth canal. This can result in unexplained episodes of distress.

You can do this with your partner (as explained) or you can do this alone and just let your baby relax their arms and legs themselves.

The attached pdf includes pictures taken of my son Sauri at ten days old. Sauri had a difficult birth. He stopped breathing and his body went blue and rigid about two hours following his delivery.

He was very anxious and very upset. We had to hold him and rock him almost constantly. Tiger in the Tree and this Cranial Sacral technique worked well and from about eight or nine days onwards, Sauri was able to relax and was no longer traumatised.

From Developmental Baby Massage by UK leading expert Peter Walker (Available Amazon / Mothercare)

For more information about Peter Walker and Developmental Baby Massage visit


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