Breastfeeding the Colic Infant

Babies and Colic

As the famous Dr. Sears has put it, when explaining about the colic infant, “if you are wondering whether or not you have a colicky baby, you probably don't have one. The colic baby leaves no doubt in the minds of sympathetic caregivers that he is truly in agony."

How Do I Know If My Baby Has Colic?

You know your baby has colic when: 

1. Your baby cries more than 3 hours every 24 hours. 

2. Your baby cries as much as mentioned above, more than 3 times every week.

3. Your baby does this for more than three weeks at a time. 

What Causes Colic?

Some possible causes of colic in infants could be:

•    A food allergy: One common food allergen is cow’s milk via Mom’s diet. The cow’s milk proteins are sometimes too difficult for a baby to  digest. This can also cause extra spitting up. 

•    Food allergy related to other foods. Some foods that might cause the problem; including foods to avoid while breastfeeding. 

•    If a mother smokes cigarettes during pregnancy and/or breastfeeding, it can cause colic symptoms in her baby. 

•    Some feeding problems such as a bad latch or an overactive let down (breast milk flows too fast) can cause a baby to swallow excessive air while feeding, leading to colic symptoms.

•    Lactose intolerance, which is very rare.

•    Lactose overload / foremilk hind-milk imbalance. A baby might be  consuming too much of the watery milk at the beginning of a feed and not enough of the fatty hindmilk towards the end of a feed. This is common in Moms with oversupply of breast milk. Mom should not limit the time her baby spends on a particular breast, but let baby decide when he/she is finished. 

Colic Symptoms

•    Unexplained crying that follows the 3 hour, 3 day, 3 week rule above. Crying incidents may occur during certain times of the day, especially in the late afternoons. 

•    The symptoms of colic are usually worse between 3 and 8 weeks of a baby’s life. The symptoms should be completely gone by 6 months. 

•    High pitched screaming. Other illnesses should also be investigated. 

•    Baby’s knees are drawn in towards the tummy area. 

•    A colic infant’s firsts are usually clenched tight. 

•    Baby’s abdomen may be bloated and taut. 

Natural Remedies for Colic

• Make sure that you recognise the signs of hunger, so that you feed your baby before he/she becomes over-hungry and miserable. 

•    Comfort feed your baby as much as possible. Your baby might just be going through a growth spurt

•    Try to eliminate dairy products from your diet for a few weeks. Introducing them back slowly at a later stage.

•    Carrying a baby in a sling can dramatically reduce crying. Read more about the benefits of babywearing. Apparently 3 extra hours of carrying, has been found to reduce crying in a one-month-old, colic infant by 45%.

•    Skin to skin contact has also been used to calm colicky babies. Read more about kangaroo care here. 

•    Chiropractic treatments have been found to be very effective, when done over a period of 14 days.

•    If your baby has true lactose intolerance, you can pump your breast milk and add lactase supplements to the milk for your baby. Read more about exclusive pumping here. Do not do this, if you are not 100% sure that your baby has lactose intolerance. 

•    Get as much breastfeeding support and positive influences in your life as possible. 

Colic Infant
Things to Avoid

Do not switch to formula. Especially not a soy based formula. Breast milk is always best!

If a mother cannot provide enough of her own breast milk, donor breast milk, from a trustworthy source, is the second best choice. Formula should always be the last resort. 

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Other pages on breastfeeding problems in connection with this page on colic and breastfeeding

Reasons why a baby cries.

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Site by BFeeding Mamma, Tracy Behr. Currently studying through Child birth International (CBC, CBD). Also an accomplished author and Mommy of two.

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