Things to Avoid While Breastfeeding that Cause Colic: Advice From Dr. Bob Sears

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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.

Things to Avoid While Breastfeeding that Cause Colic: Advice From Dr. Bob Sears

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.

Try the “I Love You” Baby Massage to relieve gas.

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.

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17 COMMENTS

  1. As a Mom to a 2 year old that was coliky for the first 6 months of his life I also find things like this interesting. I tried taking milk out of my diet but it didn’t help him. Interestingly enough we found out a year old that he is allergic to peanuts.

    • Lil’ Peanut has a high pallet that has caused us a great deal of trouble. I’d love to hear about the bottles you used because nothing I’ve tried has worked with breaking suction and getting air in each feeding.

      • I would love to be able to help ya out, but my son is 20 and I don’t remember what bottle I used. I do know I tried many bottles, even the ones with the bag inserts and just got so frustrated because they all just didn’t help. There was one bottle and a nipple that my Dr office gave me and I never found it anyplace so can’t tell ya what it was… sorry. But, that was the only ones that did ok for him. The nipple was big, and fit his whole mouth so he didn’t suck in any air. It took him a bit longer to eat, I do remember that.

        Sorry.. and sending hugs because I know you need them XO

  2. I helped a mother with a colicky baby she had removed eggs, milk, cabbage, chocolate, But I had her add fennel seeds to her diet and this helped sooth her baby’s tummy and then she was able to eat what ever she wanted as long as she is making sure to have fennel teas or chewing and swallowing pure fennel seeds. At least 1/2 a teas spoon at each meal and if she wants to have a chocolate candy bar then she also eats fennel. I recently had to add ginger to her diet because she is pregnant with twins and has had issues with nausea. There are no herbalist or enlightened doctors in our area since it is a very small town. So if people want to treat something naturally quite a few ask me to research the options.

  3. My daughter had colic and it was because of the casein in milk among other things. She was cured but had to be put on a prescription formula to eliminate the symptoms. But it worked, so the relief I felt over her being happy again more than made up for the sadness I had over not bf’ing anymore.

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Meghan Cooper is a writer, content creator, movie critic, and geek living in Atlanta, Ga. She loves movies, traveling, and lots of coffee. Member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association, Georgia Film Critics Association, and Atlanta Film Critics Circle. Buy me a coffee

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