@Pippinwhite -- You're probably closer to the truth than you realized about the alcohol.
When my sister was a baby, she had awful colic. My mom talked to her mother and Granny said an old home remedy was bourbon or whiskey, sweetened with sugar and given by the teaspoon. Mom said she felt like she gave my sister a fifth of whiskey, but in reality, it was only about a tablespoon. Mom said she calmed right down and slept through the night. I guess a tipsy baby is a happy baby.
I know "progressive" parents would faint at the thought, but my sister didn't suffer any ill effects and Mom and Dad were finally able to get some sleep!