Elimination communication as colic therapy

Med Hypotheses. 2014 Sep;83(3):282-5. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2014.05.018. Epub 2014 Jun 7.


Colic is generally defined as excessive crying in early infancy and can have negative consequences on the infant as well as on the infant's family life. Excessive crying can result in escalating parental stress levels, abusive caregiver response, increased risk of shaken baby syndrome and parental postpartum depression. In addition to excessive crying, symptoms and descriptors of infant colic include inconsolable crying, screaming, legs drawn up against the abdomen, furrowing of eyebrows, distended abdomen, arched back, passing gas, post-feeding crying and difficulty defecating. There are few well-designed, reproducible, randomized, large-scale studies which demonstrate efficacy of any therapeutic method for colic. An unexplored etiology is that colic is functionally related to a decrease in stooling frequency. Gut distention may periodically result in intensifying discomfort for the infant and in concomitant inconsolable crying. Elimination communication (EC; also known as Natural Infant Hygiene and sometimes referred to as infant potty training, baby-led potty training or assisted infant toilet training) involves the use of cues by which the infant signals to the caregiver that the infant needs to micturate or defecate. Such cues can include types of crying, squirming, straining, wriggling, grimacing, fussing, vocalizing, intent look at caregiver, red face, passing gas and grunting, many of which are the same initial symptoms related to the onset of colicky infant states. A caregiver's attentive and nurturant response to an infant's cues involve uncovering the infant's intergluteal cleft and cradling the infant gently and non-coercively in a supported, secure squatting position. This position will increase the infant's anorectal angle thus facilitating complete defecation. It is hypothesized that effective and timely elimination will cause increased physical comfort for the infant; colic symptoms will concomitantly decrease.

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers
  • Colic / physiopathology*
  • Colic / therapy*
  • Communication*
  • Crying / physiology*
  • Defecation
  • Depression, Postpartum / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mothers
  • Parents
  • Toilet Training