Colic can be a very stressful condition for baby and mother alike. The symptoms of colic include: gas, bloating, discomfort, and long crying fits. While there is no direct correlation between colic and diet, many mothers have found that removing certain foods from their diet minimizes their baby’s symptoms. Colic in breastfed babies is actually on the rise and one proposed reason for the increase is the extensive use of milk proteins in processed foods. As mentioned in the breastfeeding diet, it is best if you are able to consume high quality, fresh and where possible organic whole foods. This will better your own and your baby’s health, and also help prevent any diet related allergies in your baby. However, many moms these days are busy working moms, trying to juggle a career and taking the best care of their family. It is understandable if occasionally you will consume processed foods, but do make every effort to check whether these foods are causing adverse symptoms in your baby.
What foods are likely to aggregate colic in a breastfed baby?
There is no set rules of what food types are the definite cause of colic – it all varies from baby to baby. However, there has been a number of foods that commonly come up as being troublesome for mothers and babies alike.
– Diary products
– Caffeine (Tea, coffee, soda)
– Soy products
– Citrus foods
– Gassy vegetables (Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Onions, Tomatoes and Green Peppers)
If you find your baby has colic symptoms, you should try to cut out any of those foods that you think may be a factor. It is best to eliminate the foods for two weeks, if the baby’s symptoms do not diminish, then it is unlikely that food product was the cause, so you can reintroduce it.
Other treatments for Colic
While it is possible that your diet may be causing colic in your baby, it is not the only option. Many mother’s have reported improvements in their baby’s symptoms but merely altering the way they breastfeed. It seems strange that your breastfeeding method could be causing colic in your child, but it appears in some cases it is true. It is important to first consider that breastfeeding is much different to bottle feeding. As a new parent, it is likely that you have had opportunities feeding other babies by way of bottle before having your own. It might be this introduction to feeding that gives many woman the wrong impression about breastfeeding. The breast is significantly different from the bottle. Perhaps most importantly, is the fact the milk is not stored in the nipple during nursing – as it is in the bottle. The milk is stored in the breast, so therefore the way in which your baby nurses has to encourage the milk out of the breast and into the nipple so it can be properly consumed. Often babies who suffer from colic are not able to drain the breast properly, and this is what results in the horrible symptoms that cause a lot of grief.
If the baby doesn’t attach properly to the breast, and is unable to drain the breast properly, this poses two significant problems. Firstly, the baby will be compressing the nipple between his or her tongue and the hard palate of their mouth. This will result in discomfort for the mother, and could lead to the nipples becoming sore and brittle. Secondly, it will mean that the baby is not draining the higher fat, more calorie loaded milk that is left inside. It is well documented that the “first milk” to come from the breast is quite watery, and as more comes out it is much higher in nutrients. If the baby is taking only the “first milk” it is likely that the baby will not be easily satisfied and will then consume more frequent, high volume, low-fat feeds than they would otherwise. This will lead to rapid emptying into the large intestine, which leads on to the common colicky symptoms. Because there is too much milk in the large intestine and not enough of the lactase enzyme to digest it. The fermentation of the sugar being broken down results in the uncomfortable symptoms that too many mothers are familiar with. It seems that proper latching, allowing your baby to get the high fat milk, can really help prevent the colic symptoms.
In addition, many mothers believe it is best to alternate breasts while feeding. This too presents the same problem as improper latching. As you feed the baby from the first breast, you are only providing the “first milk” and before you reach the high fat, nutrient loaded milk, you swap to the other breast. This results in the baby over feeding and experiencing the same awful symptoms mentioned above. It is best to use only one breast per feeding. If your baby detaches themselves from the breast, and appears not to be interested in that breast anymore but is still hungry, then it is safe to transfer to the other breast. Do not actively detach your baby to swap breasts as it is not beneficial. If you are concerned about using the breasts evenly, just try to alternate individual feedings instead. In addition to the low fat milk creating havoc in the baby’s intestine, because the baby is not feeling “full” it is likely that the baby will require excessive nursing. This is very demanding on both mother and baby, and sleep deprivation is a very common consequence.
Take the time to learn how to breastfeed your baby properly. It is important that your baby is getting the optimal breast milk. If your baby is suffering from colicky symptoms, try adjusting your breastfeeding methods in order to best prevent the discomfort. If you find that you are unsuccessful, consider eliminating some of the foods mentioned in this article. The most common piece of advice for mother’s with colicky babies is “time” – but dealing with a colicky baby is taxing on the whole family, so we suggest that you try to find something that provides relief as soon as possible.