Breastfeeding a Colicky Baby

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Colic Symptoms

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."

The symptoms of colic are usually worse between three and eight weeks of a baby’s life. 

You know your baby has colic when: 

  • Your baby cries more than 3 hours every 24 hours. 
  • Your baby cries as much as mentioned above, more than 3 times every week.
  • Your baby does this for more than three weeks at a time.

Crying incidents may occur during certain times of the day, especially in the late afternoons.

Other symptoms may include:

  • High pitched screaming. Other illnesses should also be investigated. 
  • Baby’s knees are drawn in towards the tummy area. 
  • The infant’s firsts are usually clenched tight. 
  • Baby’s abdomen may be bloated and taut. 

The symptoms should be completely gone by six months. 

Should you Breastfeed your Colicky Baby?

Yes, breast milk is the best thing you can give your baby, even if your baby is sensitive to certain foods. Breast milk not only protects your baby's immune system, but it protects the lining of the gut, this prevents/heals most conditions that cause colic symptoms. 

How to Breastfeed a Colicky Baby
Causes and Prevention

  • Is your baby fussy when latching on? If your baby is fussy, he/she is refusing to breastfeed or is showing any such signs, make sure that he/she is latched on adequatelyHow to breastfeed a fussy baby.
  • When breastfeeding a colicky baby, try to find the most comfortable breastfeeding position. You can try to breastfeed in a lying down position.
  • When calming fussy babies, mothers need to make sure that the flow of the milk is not a concern. A fast flow of breast milk is likely going to fluster the child, while a slower pace may frustrate. 
  • A colicky baby or for that matter, any infant, should not be made to wait for a breastfeeding session until they are ravenous; this will cause a baby to gulp down milk and swallow air. Make sure that you recognize the signs of hunger, so that you feed your baby before he/she becomes over-hungry and miserable. 
  • Burp your baby more often. Breastfed babies also need to be burped! 
  • Comfort feed your baby as much as possible. Your baby might be experiencing a growth spurt. 
  • Lactose intolerance can cause colic symptoms, but 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 mothers with oversupply. A mother should not limit the time her baby spends on a particular breast, but let her baby decide when he/she is finished. 
  • Have your baby tested for allergies before implementing an elimination diet. 
  • Acid reflux can also cause colic symptoms.

Try Dr Harvey's Cuddle Cure to calm your baby. Watch the video here. 

Natural Remedies for Colic

  • Carrying a baby in a sling can dramatically reduce crying. Learn more about the benefits of babywearing. Apparently, three extra hours of carrying have been found to reduce crying in a one-month-old colic infant by 45%.
  • Skin to skin contact and co-sleeping has also been used to calm colicky babies. Learn 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. Do not do this, if you are not 100% sure that your baby has lactose intolerance. 
  • A bedtime routine can dramatically reduce colic symptoms and result in more extended periods of peaceful sleep. 
  • Did you know that the way you change your baby's diaper could be causing his/her colic symptoms? Learn more about the diaper changing method that prevents colic. 
  • The use of fennel via breast milk can reduce colic symptoms naturally. Anise seed is another wonderful colic remedy. 
  • A warm bath and massage before breastfeeding sessions. 
  • If you think your baby's issues are gas related - find gas remedies. 
  • If you are using bottles, an excellent way to prevent your baby from swallowing too much air is a technique called paced bottle feeding

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

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