As a Mother that has dealt with a baby with colic, I'm always trying to find everything that I can on how to ease my baby's discomfort. From natural ways to soothe my baby to a complete diet change. Dr. Bob Sears of the amazing Sears Family that is known for their Attachment Parenting books was so kind as to answer questions I had about my diet being a possible cause of my baby's colic through breastfeeding. Think of it this way; you don't drink alcohol heavily while breastfeeding because of the alcohol is present in the breast milk. The same can be said for the foods you eat.
What are some of the signs that the baby is suffering from colic and not something else?
The most common signs of colic are prolonged periods of inconsolable crying (either for several consecutive hours each day or shorter periods spread throughout the day), pulling the knees up to the abdomen, and passing excessive amounts of gas. The primary feature that sets colicky crying apart from other causes of crying is that colic is usually inconsolable; the infant cries in pain no matter what the parent does.
Can different foods that a Mother eats be the cause of colic in a baby?
Yes. Cow’s milk products (milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, etc.) in a breastfeeding mom’s diet are probably the most common food sensitivity that can cause colicky symptoms in a baby. It’s the cow’s milk protein that is the culprit. Other foods include wheat (and gluten), nuts, eggs, soy, corn, and gassy vegetables (Brussel sprouts, asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower). Caffeine is another possibility.
What are the most common foods to avoid?
I always have a breastfeeding mom go off cow’s milk products first. Give it at least a two-week trial before deciding whether or not it helps. If needed, I move on to the other foods (see above).
Are there other things that breastfeeding mothers need to avoid, so that is doesn't cause discomfort in their babies like prenatal vitamins?
Sometimes prenatal vitamins may irritate a baby; a week or two off of these won’t compromise mom’s or baby’s nutrition. Often it’s the iron in the vitamin that is most irritating. An iron-free vitamin can be tried as a substitute.
What are some natural ways to calm a colicky baby that you recommend to your patients?
The most consistently effective natural remedy, in my experience, is lactase digestive enzyme drops (such as Colief Infant Drops). These enzymes help the baby better digest the milk sugar (lactose) in breast milk or formula. Some babies are born with a deficiency in lactase enzymes (called Transient Lactase Deficiency), so they can’t digest all the milk sugar in a feeding. This undigested sugar ferments into gas, which causes bloating and colicky pain. Giving Colief Infant Drops with each feeding allows baby to digest the milk sugars better, thus decreasing colicky symptoms. If this TLD is the cause of the colic symptoms, parents should see relief within three days.
When should a parent become concerned about colic and see a doctor?
If changing a breastfeeding mom’s diet or infant formula, or various colic remedies don’t work (see below), see a doctor to evaluate various other possible causes of colic.
Some fantastic tips for alleviating discomfort or colic in your baby. I'm a firm believer in trying as many natural forms as possible before resorting to medications or something more invasive. I'd like to say thank you to Dr. Bob Sears for taking the time to speak with me about breastfeeding and colic. I'm an avid Sears follower that has been living by attachment parenting since first ready their book way back when.