Can Breastfed Babies Get Colic?

Know whether babies can get colic from breastfeeding

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Breastfeeding is one of the most natural and healthy ways to nourish your baby. However, it’s not uncommon for new mothers to worry about whether their breastfed babies will develop colic. Colic is a condition that causes excessive crying and fussiness in infants, and it can be a stressful and overwhelming experience for parents.

The good news is that breastfed babies can get colic, but it’s not a common occurrence. Colic can be caused by a variety of factors, including gas, an immature digestive system, overstimulation, and food sensitivities. While breastfeeding can help prevent some of these issues, it’s not a guarantee that your baby won’t develop colic. In this article, we’ll explore the relationship between breastfeeding and colic, as well as offer practical tips for coping with a colicky baby.

Key Takeaways

  • Breastfed babies can get colic, but it’s not a common occurrence.
  • Colic can be caused by a variety of factors, including gas, an immature digestive system, overstimulation, and food sensitivities.
  • Breastfeeding can help prevent some of these issues, but it’s not a guarantee that your baby won’t develop colic.

Understanding Colic in Babies

Defining Colic

Colic is a common condition that affects many newborn babies. It is defined as excessive crying in a baby who is otherwise healthy and well-fed. The crying often occurs in the late afternoon or evening and can last for several hours. Colic typically starts when a baby is around two to four weeks old and can last until they are three to four months old.

Common Symptoms of Colic

The symptoms of colic can vary from baby to baby, but some common signs include:

  • Intense crying that lasts for several hours
  • Crying that occurs at the same time each day
  • Clenched fists, arched back, and tense muscles
  • Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
  • Refusing to feed or eating more frequently than usual

Potential Causes of Colic

The exact cause of colic is unknown, but there are several theories about what may contribute to the condition. Some possible causes of colic include:

  • Immature digestive system: Babies who are still developing their digestive systems may have difficulty processing food, leading to discomfort and excessive crying.
  • Overstimulation: Newborns can become overwhelmed by their surroundings, leading to overstimulation and crying.
  • Food allergies or sensitivities: Some babies may be sensitive to certain foods, such as cow’s milk, which can cause colic symptoms.
  • Gas or trapped air: Babies who swallow air while feeding may experience discomfort from gas or trapped air in their digestive system.

In conclusion, colic can be a challenging condition for both parents and babies. Understanding the common symptoms and potential causes of colic can help parents provide the necessary care and support for their little ones. If you suspect that your baby has colic, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

Breastfeeding and Colic

If you are a new parent, you may have heard about colic, a condition that causes excessive crying in infants. You may wonder if breastfeeding can cause colic or if it can help prevent it. In this section, we will explore the relationship between breastfeeding and colic.

Breastfeeding Benefits

Breastfeeding has many benefits for both you and your baby. Breast milk contains all the nutrients your baby needs for the first six months of life. It also contains antibodies that can help protect your baby from infections and illnesses. Breastfeeding can also help you bond with your baby and may even reduce your risk of certain health conditions, such as breast cancer.

Can Breastfeeding Cause Colic?

Breastfeeding itself does not cause colic. However, certain factors related to breastfeeding can contribute to colic. For example, if your baby is not latching on properly, they may swallow air while feeding, which can cause discomfort and gas. Overactive let-down, which is when your milk comes out too fast, can also cause your baby to swallow air. Additionally, if your baby is sensitive to lactose or certain proteins in your breast milk, they may experience colic-like symptoms.

Managing Feeding Techniques

If your baby is experiencing colic, there are several feeding techniques you can try to help manage their symptoms. For example, you can try burping your baby more frequently during feedings to help release any trapped air. You can also try switching breasts during feedings to ensure that your baby is getting enough hindmilk, which is higher in fat and can help keep your baby feeling full. If you suspect that your baby is sensitive to lactose or certain proteins in your breast milk, you can try eliminating these from your diet to see if it makes a difference.

In conclusion, breastfeeding does not cause colic, but certain factors related to breastfeeding can contribute to it. If your baby is experiencing colic, there are several feeding techniques you can try to help manage their symptoms. Remember to always consult with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your baby’s health.

Comforting a Colicky Baby

Dealing with a colicky baby can be very challenging for parents. However, there are several techniques that can help soothe and calm your baby when they are experiencing colic. In this section, we will explore some of the most effective ways to comfort your colicky baby.

Soothing Techniques

There are many different ways to soothe a colicky baby. Some of the most effective techniques include:

  • Rocking: Gently rocking your baby can be very soothing and help them relax. You can try rocking your baby in your arms, in a rocking chair, or in a baby swing.
  • Holding: Holding your baby close to your body can provide them with a sense of security and comfort. You can try holding your baby in different positions to see what works best for them.
  • Soothing Sounds: Playing white noise or soft music can be very calming for a colicky baby. You can also try singing or talking softly to your baby to help soothe them.

Holding Positions to Reduce Colic

The way you hold your baby can also have a big impact on their comfort levels. Some holding positions that can help reduce colic include:

  • The Football Hold: This position involves holding your baby upright with their head supported by your hand. Their body will be tucked under your arm, with their legs pointing towards your back.
  • The Colic Hold: This position involves holding your baby with their stomach against your chest. Your hand will support their chin and the other hand will support their bottom.
  • The Belly Hold: This position involves laying your baby on their stomach across your lap. You can then gently rub their back to help soothe them.

Creating a Calming Environment

Creating a calming environment for your baby can also help reduce their colic symptoms. Some ways to create a calming environment include:

  • A Warm Bath: Giving your baby a warm bath can help them relax and soothe their colic symptoms.
  • Swaddling: Swaddling your baby can provide them with a sense of security and comfort. Make sure to swaddle your baby snugly, but not too tightly.
  • Massage: Massaging your baby’s tummy can help relieve gas and other digestive issues that can contribute to colic.
  • A Comfortable Crib: Make sure your baby’s crib is comfortable and free from any distractions or discomforts. This can help them sleep better and reduce their colic symptoms.

By using these techniques, you can help comfort your colicky baby and provide them with the support they need to feel calm and relaxed.

Dietary Considerations for Breastfeeding Mothers

Breastfeeding mothers often wonder whether their diet affects their baby’s colic. While there is no clear evidence to suggest that maternal diet causes colic, some dietary changes may help alleviate symptoms.

Foods to Avoid

Certain foods may trigger colic symptoms in breastfed babies. Spicy foods, for example, may irritate the baby’s digestive system and worsen colic. It is best to avoid spicy foods during breastfeeding. Additionally, some babies may be sensitive to certain foods, such as dairy products, soy, or wheat. If you suspect that your baby is sensitive to a particular food, try eliminating it from your diet for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference.

Impact of Maternal Diet on Colic

Although there is no clear evidence to suggest that maternal diet causes colic, some studies have found a link between maternal diet and colic symptoms in breastfed babies. For example, a study published in the Canadian Family Physician found that some breastfeeding mothers believed that their breast milk changed in response to their own diets, and that certain foods could cause colic in their babies.

Another study published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition found that reducing the intake of dietary FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) in breastfeeding mothers was associated with a greater improvement of the symptoms of infantile colic than for a typical diet.

It is important to note that more research is needed to fully understand the link between maternal diet and colic symptoms in breastfed babies. If you are concerned about your baby’s colic, it is best to consult with your healthcare provider.

Medical Advice and Treatments

When to Consult a Health Professional

If your breastfed baby is experiencing colic, it is always a good idea to consult with a health professional such as a GP, health visitor or pediatrician. They can help rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be causing your baby’s discomfort.

It is especially important to seek medical advice if your baby is under 12 weeks old, as they are more vulnerable to infections and other health issues. If your baby is showing signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth, sunken eyes or fewer wet nappies than usual, seek medical attention immediately.

Colic Treatments and Remedies

There are several treatments and remedies available that may help relieve your breastfed baby’s colic symptoms. These include:

  • Probiotics: Probiotics such as Lactobacillus reuteri have been found to be effective in reducing colic symptoms in breastfed babies. Talk to your health professional about whether probiotics may be appropriate for your baby.
  • Colic drops: Over-the-counter colic drops containing simethicone can help relieve gas and bloating in your baby’s digestive system.
  • Soothing techniques: Gentle rocking, swaying or carrying your baby in a sling or carrier can help soothe them when they are experiencing colic. White noise or soft music may also help.
  • Dietary changes: If you are breastfeeding, you may want to try eliminating certain foods from your diet that may be causing your baby’s colic. Common culprits include dairy, caffeine and spicy foods.

It is important to note that not all treatments and remedies will work for every baby. It may take some trial and error to find the right solution for your breastfed baby’s colic. Always consult with a health professional before trying any new treatments or remedies.

Understanding Baby’s Digestive Health

Digestive Development in Infants

As a new parent, you may be wondering how your baby’s digestive system works. The digestive system is responsible for breaking down food and absorbing nutrients. In infants, the digestive system is still developing, and it may take a few months to fully mature.

At birth, a baby’s digestive system is already fully formed, but it needs time to develop and function properly. The digestive system includes the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus. The digestive system is responsible for breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, and eliminating waste.

In the first few months of life, your baby’s digestive system is still developing, and it may take some time for them to get used to feeding. It is normal for newborns to have gas, constipation, and other digestive discomforts.

Signs of Digestive Discomfort

It is essential to understand the signs of digestive discomfort in your baby. Some common signs of digestive discomfort in infants include:

  • Crying and fussiness
  • Excessive gas
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Constipation
  • Wind
  • Burping
  • Reflux
  • Allergy
  • Windy
  • Poo

If you notice any of these symptoms in your baby, it is essential to consult your healthcare provider. They can help you determine the cause of your baby’s discomfort and recommend appropriate treatment.

It is important to note that breastfed babies can get colic. Colic is a common condition that affects babies, and it is characterised by excessive crying and fussiness. While the exact cause of colic is unknown, it is believed to be related to digestive discomfort.

In conclusion, understanding your baby’s digestive health is essential for their overall well-being. It is normal for infants to experience gas, constipation, and other digestive discomforts. If you notice any signs of digestive discomfort in your baby, consult your healthcare provider.

Coping with the Stress of Colic

Coping with a fussy baby can be overwhelming, especially when it seems like nothing you do can console them. If you suspect your breastfed baby has colic, you may feel even more stressed and helpless. Here are some ways you can cope with the stress of colic.

Support for Parents

It’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Many parents of fussy babies experience the same stress and frustration as you. Consider joining a support group for parents of colicky babies. You can share your experiences and learn coping strategies from other parents who are going through the same thing.

You can also seek support from family and friends. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Having someone to talk to or someone who can take care of the baby for a while can make a big difference in your stress levels.

Managing Personal Stress

Managing your own stress is crucial when dealing with a colicky baby. Here are some tips to help you manage your stress:

  • Take breaks: It’s important to take breaks when you can. Even a few minutes to yourself can help you recharge and feel more relaxed.
  • Practice relaxation techniques: Deep breathing, meditation, and yoga are all great ways to relax and reduce stress.
  • Get enough sleep: Sleep deprivation can make stress worse. Try to get as much sleep as you can, even if it means taking naps during the day.
  • Exercise: Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and improve your mood. Even a short walk can help.
  • Eat well: Eating a balanced diet can help you feel better physically and emotionally.

Remember that colic is usually temporary and will eventually go away on its own. In the meantime, it’s important to take care of yourself and seek support when you need it.

Differentiating Colic from Other Conditions

Breastfed babies can get colic, which is characterised by excessive crying and fussiness, but it is important to differentiate colic from other conditions that may cause similar symptoms.

Identifying Other Causes of Crying

It is normal for babies to cry, but if your breastfed baby is inconsolable and crying for more than three hours a day, it could be a sign of colic or other underlying conditions. Some other causes of crying in babies include illness, fever, and cow’s milk allergy. Formula-fed babies may also be prone to colic and other digestive problems.

It is important to pay attention to your baby’s crying patterns and other symptoms to help identify the cause of their discomfort. You may want to keep a diary of your baby’s crying episodes, including the time of day, duration, and any other symptoms they experience, such as vomiting or diarrhoea.

When Crying Signifies Illness

If your breastfed baby’s crying is accompanied by a fever or other signs of illness, such as lethargy or a rash, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Your baby may have an infection or other serious condition that requires prompt treatment.

If your breastfed baby is formula-fed and their crying is accompanied by other symptoms, such as vomiting or diarrhoea, it could be a sign of a cow’s milk allergy or other digestive problem. In this case, you may need to switch to a different formula or eliminate cow’s milk from your diet if you are breastfeeding.

In summary, while breastfed babies can get colic, it is important to differentiate colic from other conditions that may cause similar symptoms. By paying attention to your baby’s crying patterns and other symptoms, you can help identify the cause of their discomfort and seek appropriate treatment if necessary.

Beyond Colic: Growth and Development

Normal Baby Crying Patterns

Crying is a normal part of a baby’s development and communication. It is the primary way that infants communicate their needs and feelings. It is essential to understand that all babies cry, and it is not always a sign of colic. On average, babies cry for around two hours a day in their first two weeks of life, and this gradually increases to around three hours a day by six weeks.

Milestones After Colic

If your breastfed baby has colic, you may be concerned about their growth and development. However, it is essential to understand that colic does not cause any long-term harm to your baby. Once the colic resolves, your baby will continue to grow and develop like any other baby.

In fact, many babies who have had colic go on to reach their developmental milestones on time or even earlier than other babies. It is important to remember that every baby is different, and they will reach their milestones at their own pace.

As your baby grows and develops, you may notice changes in their crying patterns. For example, as they become more mobile, they may cry less as they are better able to explore their environment. It is also common for babies to have periods of increased fussiness during growth spurts.

In conclusion, colic is a common condition that can affect breastfed babies. However, it is important to understand that colic does not cause any long-term harm to your baby. As your baby grows and develops, their crying patterns will change, and they will continue to reach their developmental milestones.

Preventative Measures and Early Detection

If you are a breastfeeding mother, you may be wondering if your baby can get colic. The answer is yes, breastfed babies can get colic too. Fortunately, there are preventative measures you can take to reduce the risk of colic and early signs you can recognise to detect it.

Recognising Early Signs of Colic

One of the earliest signs of colic is crying. However, it is important to note that not all crying is a sign of colic. Colic crying is usually intense and lasts for more than three hours a day, for three or more days a week, for at least three weeks. The crying patterns of colic babies can be different, but they often cry in the late afternoon or evening.

Other signs of colic include:

  • Clenched fists
  • Arching the back
  • Pulling the legs towards the tummy
  • Difficulty sleeping

If you notice any of these signs, it is important to speak to your doctor or health visitor for advice.

Preventative Strategies for Colic

Although there is no guaranteed way to prevent colic, there are some strategies you can try to reduce the risk:

  • Burp your baby frequently during feeding
  • Avoid overfeeding your baby
  • Make sure your baby is latched on correctly during feeding
  • Try different breastfeeding positions
  • Avoid smoking or exposing your baby to smoke
  • Reduce your baby’s exposure to loud noises and bright lights

In addition to these preventative measures, early detection is key to managing colic. By recognising the early signs of colic, you can take action to soothe your baby and seek professional advice if necessary.

Alternative Therapies for Colic

If your breastfed baby has colic, you may want to try alternative therapies to help soothe them. Here are some alternative therapies that have been suggested for colic:

Cranial Osteopathy

Cranial osteopathy is a gentle form of spinal manipulation that involves the skull and the sacrum. It is believed that this therapy can help to improve the flow of cerebrospinal fluid and reduce tension in the body, which may help to soothe a colicky baby.

While there is limited scientific evidence to support the use of cranial osteopathy for colic, some parents have reported success with this therapy. It is important to note that cranial osteopathy should only be performed by a qualified practitioner.

Use of Baby Slings and Swings

Movement can be very soothing for a colicky baby, and many parents have found that using a baby sling or swing can help to calm their little one. Baby slings and swings allow your baby to be close to you while still being able to move around and feel secure.

When using a baby sling or swing, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and to never leave your baby unattended. It is also important to make sure that your baby’s head and neck are properly supported at all times.

Overall, alternative therapies may be worth considering if your breastfed baby has colic. While there is limited scientific evidence to support the use of these therapies, many parents have reported success with them. As always, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider before trying any new therapies for your baby.

Long-Term Effects of Colic

Colic can be a challenging experience for both parents and babies. While colic is not a serious medical condition, it can be distressing for parents to see their baby in discomfort. Colic typically lasts for a few weeks and then resolves on its own. However, some parents may be concerned about the long-term effects of colic on their baby’s health and development.

Colic’s Impact on Baby’s Future

Research shows that colic does not have any long-term effects on a baby’s health or development. A study published in the British Medical Journal found that babies who had colic did not have any significant differences in their physical, mental, or emotional development compared to babies who did not have colic.

However, it is important to note that colic can have an impact on the parents’ mental health and well-being. Parents of colicky babies may experience higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. This can affect their ability to bond with their baby and may lead to long-term emotional and psychological problems.

If you are struggling to cope with your baby’s colic, it is important to seek support from family, friends, or healthcare professionals. There are also various coping strategies that you can try to help manage your baby’s colic symptoms, such as:

  • Swaddling your baby
  • Using white noise or soothing music
  • Gentle rocking or bouncing
  • Offering a pacifier
  • Changing your baby’s feeding position
  • Trying a different brand of formula (if your baby is formula-fed)

In conclusion, while colic can be a difficult experience, it does not have any long-term effects on your baby’s health or development. However, it is important to take care of your own mental health and seek support if you are struggling to cope with your baby’s colic symptoms.

Practical Tips for New Parents

As a new parent, you may feel overwhelmed and helpless when your baby cries inconsolably due to colic. However, there are some practical tips you can follow to help soothe your baby and make your life easier.

Daily Routines to Combat Colic

Establishing a daily routine can help reduce colic symptoms in breastfed babies. Try to feed your baby at regular intervals, preferably every two to three hours, and make sure they are burped well after each feeding.

You can also try baby massage, which can help relax your baby’s muscles and reduce colic pain. Gently rub your baby’s belly in a clockwise direction, using a warm oil or lotion. You can also try placing a warm towel or hot water bottle on your baby’s tummy, but make sure it’s not too hot.

Travel and Outings with a Colicky Baby

Travelling and going out with a colicky baby can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. If you’re travelling by pram, make sure it’s comfortable and has good suspension. You can also try using a baby carrier, which can help soothe your baby by providing a sense of security and closeness.

If you’re going for a drive, make sure your baby is securely fastened in a car seat that’s appropriate for their age and weight. You can also try going for a walk, which can help soothe your baby and give you some fresh air and exercise.

When going out, make sure you have everything you need to soothe your baby, such as a pacifier, a blanket, and some toys. You can also try using white noise, such as a vacuum cleaner or a hair dryer, to help calm your baby.

By following these practical tips, you can help reduce colic symptoms in your breastfed baby and make your life as a new parent a little easier.

Resources and Support Networks

Breastfeeding can be a challenging experience, especially when your baby is experiencing colic. However, there are resources and support networks available to help you navigate this difficult time.

Finding Help and Community

One way to find support is to join a breastfeeding support group. These groups can provide you with a safe space to share your experiences and connect with other breastfeeding mothers who may be going through similar challenges. You can find local support groups through your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding clinic.

Another way to find help is through online forums and social media groups. These platforms can provide you with a wealth of information and support, as well as a sense of community. You can find groups on Facebook, Mumsnet, and other parenting websites.

It’s important to remember that not all advice you receive online is accurate or safe. Always check the credentials of the person giving the advice and speak to your healthcare provider before making any changes to your baby’s diet or routine.

In addition to support groups and online resources, there are also healthcare professionals who can provide you with guidance and support. Your midwife, health visitor or GP can offer advice on breastfeeding, colic and other related issues. They can also refer you to specialist services if needed.

Overall, there are many resources and support networks available to help you through the challenges of breastfeeding and colic. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and support when you need it.

Conclusion

Breastfed babies can get colic, but the incidence of colic is lower in breastfed babies compared to formula-fed babies. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, exclusively breastfed babies have a lower incidence of colic compared to exclusively bottle-fed babies.

While there is no one definitive cause of colic, it is believed to be related to a combination of factors, including an immature digestive system, food allergies or intolerances, and an imbalance of bacteria in the gut. Breast milk contains natural antibodies and beneficial bacteria that can help support a healthy gut microbiome, which may help reduce the incidence of colic in breastfed babies.

If you suspect that your breastfed baby has colic, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider to rule out any underlying medical conditions. Your healthcare provider may recommend changes to your diet, such as eliminating certain foods that may be causing a reaction in your baby, or may recommend probiotics to help support a healthy gut microbiome.

In summary, breastfed babies can get colic, but the incidence is lower compared to formula-fed babies. Breast milk contains natural antibodies and beneficial bacteria that can help support a healthy gut microbiome, which may help reduce the incidence of colic in breastfed babies. If you suspect that your breastfed baby has colic, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can one alleviate colic symptoms in breastfed infants?

There are various methods to alleviate colic symptoms in breastfed infants. One way is to ensure that the baby is properly latched onto the breast during feeding. This can help reduce the amount of air that the baby swallows, which can contribute to colic. Another way is to try different feeding positions, such as holding the baby upright during and after feeding. This can help reduce the amount of air that the baby swallows and aid digestion.

What dietary choices for breastfeeding mothers help reduce the risk of colic in their babies?

Breastfeeding mothers can make dietary choices that may help reduce the risk of colic in their babies. For example, avoiding certain foods that are known to cause gas or upset stomachs, such as spicy foods, caffeine, and dairy products, may help. Additionally, consuming foods that are high in probiotics, such as yogurt and kefir, may help promote a healthy gut microbiome in both the mother and baby.

What are the common indicators of colic in infants who are breastfed?

The common indicators of colic in infants who are breastfed include excessive crying, fussiness, and difficulty sleeping. Colic may also be accompanied by symptoms such as gas, bloating, and spitting up. It is important to note that these symptoms may also be indicative of other conditions, so it is important to consult with a healthcare provider to rule out any underlying medical issues.

Are infants who are breastfed at a higher risk of developing colic?

Breastfed infants are not at a higher risk of developing colic compared to formula-fed infants. In fact, some studies suggest that breastfed infants may have a lower incidence of colic. However, there is no definitive evidence to suggest that one feeding method is better than the other in terms of reducing the risk of colic.

From what age can an infant start exhibiting colic symptoms?

Infants can start exhibiting colic symptoms from as early as two weeks old, with symptoms typically peaking around six weeks old. However, colic can persist for several months, with symptoms typically resolving by around three to four months of age.

Can the components of breast milk cause discomfort in an infant’s stomach?

Breast milk is generally well-tolerated by infants and contains all the necessary nutrients for healthy growth and development. However, in rare cases, certain components of breast milk, such as lactose or proteins, may cause discomfort in an infant’s stomach. If you suspect that your baby is experiencing discomfort due to breast milk, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider to rule out any underlying medical issues.

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