Cow’s Milk Causes Colic

Colic is an attack of crying and what appears to be abdominal pain in early infancy. Colic is a common condition and is estimated to affect at least 20% of babies during their first few months. Colic usually appears a few weeks after birth and carries on until the baby is about three to four months old. Even though the baby may scream for all he/she is worth, colic is not dangerous or harmful. Experts say colic has no long-term effects and a baby with colic will gain weight and feed normally (1a).

Many times, colic in a breastfed baby can be traced to something in the mothers diet.The worst dietary offender is cow’s milk. Many times, a baby’s digestive tract isn’t mature enough to handle the proteins in cow’s milk which causes a gas builds up in the intestines. When this happens, your baby’s will scream in pain as his intestines go into spasms.Eliminating dairy from your diet can make a tremendous difference in the level of colic your baby experiences.Cow’s milk takes many forms and you need to be vigilant in reading the labels of food you consume (1b).

Many prepared items in the supermarket include some form of milk product. These include, but are not limited to: (1c)

  • Batter Products: Waffles, Pancakes, Cakes, Cookies, Biscuits, etc.
  • Chocolate: Both milk and white varieties
  • Processed Foods: Bologna, hot dogs, pepperoni, salami, sausage
    (The exception to this is Kosher meat products because they are milk free)
  • Butter
  • Cheese

When you are trying to eliminate dairy from your diet, allow at least two weeks for your body to be dairy free. If after two weeks, you aren’t seeing a marked improvement, you can safely assume that your child is not sensitive to dairy products.If after two weeks, you don’t see a significant change in your baby’s colic, you can pretty much assume that it isn’t the dairy products that are causing the colic (2a).

The foods listed below can also cause reactions in your baby, but if you are eating a balanced diet and not eating too much of any one of these foods, they are probably not the cause of your baby’s colic. Every baby is different and what may cause a reaction in one baby, may be perfectly fine for another baby. If you notice that your baby’s colic acts up after eating a particular food, there is most likely a sensitivity issue for your baby. Avoiding consumption of this food in the future may be a good idea (2b).

Other potentially colic inducing foods for breastfeeding moms include onions, chocolate, eggs, peanuts, citrus fruits, wheat, corn, soy, tomatoes, strawberries, highly spiced foods, legumes, artificial sweeteners, caffeinated beverages, licorice, beet greens, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, collard greens, garden cress, horseradish, kale, mustard greens, radishes, rutabaga, Swiss chard, and turnips (2c).


Diet Restrictions While Breastfeeding

Different cultures and individuals believe different foods may harm a breastfed baby. Some women believe spicy foods will harm their baby, while other moms think that eating garlic or chocolate causes colic. Everyone says different, but if it helps, there are no scientific studies that show certain foods are dangerous to the health of your baby.

To feed your baby the healthiest breast milk possible, you need to eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet. Eat a variety of foods from all the food groups including plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid, or consume in moderation, foods that are high in calories and low in nutrient value such as chips, soda and sweets. Drink plenty of fluids to help maintain your milk supply (1a).

If you have a family history of allergies, your baby may show signs of sensitivity to certain foods. If you suspect your baby may be allergic to a food you are eating, avoid that food for a few days then try eating a small amount. If his symptoms return, avoid that food while you are breastfeeding. A study in the journal Clinical Pediatrics reports breastfeeding actually helps reduce allergies in children up to the age of 15 (1b).

Some women believe drinking beer helps increase their milk supply. This is a myth. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding alcohol during breastfeeding. Alcohol does pass through mother’s milk. If you do decide to drink alcohol, the academy suggests drinking a small amount right after a feeding so your body has time to get rid of as much alcohol as possible before you nurse again. A study in the journal Pediatrics showed infants who were exposed to alcohol in breast milk slept less (1c).

Drinking less than 25 oz. of coffee per day shouldn’t cause any problems for a breastfed baby. Remember, though, caffeine can be found in some sodas, chocolate and some medications. If you are consuming these foods or medications along with coffee, your baby may be getting too much caffeine (1d).

Some babies may be more sensitive than others to certain flavors, spices or gassy foods such as beans, broccoli or cauliflower. If your baby is fussy, irritable or can’t sleep after you eat certain foods, it’s best to avoid them while you are breastfeeding. This will make you and your baby happier and more comfortable.



What foods might make my baby fussy?

While food sensitivities vary tremendously from baby to bay the following list are the most common foods with reputations for bothering babies:

  1. Raw Broccoli
  2. Brussels Sprouts
  3. Raw Cabbage
  4. Cauliflower
  5. Citrus fruits in excess
  6. Corn
  7. Dairy products
  8. Egg whites
  9. Hot peppers
  10. Iron Supplements
  11. Prescription and over the counter medication
  12. Onions
  13. Peanuts and peanut butter
  14. Prenatal vitamins (with iron salts)
  15. Shellfish
  16. Soy products
  17. Spicy Foods
  18. Tomatoes
  19. Wheat gluten

The good news is that even if your baby does show a sensitivity to these foods as their digestive system matures they will be better able to handle a wider variety of components in your breast milk.

Four step fussy foods test

When breastfeeding, you don’t need to go to dietary extremes to learn what foods in your diet might be affecting your baby.  Use this simple four step fussy food test:

Step 1: Make a Fuss Food Chart – List the foods you think may be problematic and the symptoms and behaviors associated with those foods, such as colicky episodes, bloating, severe constipation, diarrhea, painful night waking, restless sleep, red ring around baby’s anus

Step 2: Ask relatives about foods that cause them problems – Survey members on both sides of the family about foods that have bothered them, be sure to go beyond the common culprits of diary, wheat, egg whites, corn, nuts, soy, and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, radish etc)

Step 3: Eliminate food suspects – One by one eliminate the suspect foods from your diet. (You may wish to eliminate all at once if your baby is really miserable) Be as objective as you possibly can.  Pick out the most obvious signs and symptoms and see if they disappear.   Keep in mind it can take 10-14 days to totally eliminate some foods from your system so you may need wait before seeing results.  If you are eliminating a great number of foods from your diet consult a nutritionist to make sure you are staying healthy

Step 4: Challenge your results – When you think you have pinned down the problem food try eating it again, beginning with small amounts.  If your baby’s symptoms reappear scratch this food from your diet for a few months until your baby is older.  You may not need eliminate a food completely as your baby may simply have a heightened sensitivity.

The good news is that as your baby’s intestines and digestive system mature the need for eliminating fuss foods will diminish.

What Are Some Medicines To Avoid When Breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding Question: What Medication Should I Avoid When Breastfeeding?

There is a lot of contradicting information about what medication is safe to take while breastfeeding. As with any medicine, if you are unsure check with your lactation consultant before taking any medication. Even over the counter medicines can have a dramatic affect on the quantity, quality and taste of your breast milk. Here is a partial list of common medications that are breastfeeding contradictions and the reasons to avoid them:

  • Antibacterials – These are on the list as a caution. Some are safe many cause diarrhea, thrush, rash, bloody stools, or other problems.
  • Antidepressants – Drowsiness is the most common effect on your child. Especially avoid ones with phenelzine and tranylcypromine
  • Antifungals – The ingredient ketoconazole poses risk for liver damage.
  • Antihistamines – May reduce your breast milk supply and cause drowsiness or fussiness in your child. Be especially careful to avoid cetirizine.
  • Anti-inflammatory – Ibuprofen is generally safe, many others are unsafe for children under one year due to increased risk of Reyes Syndrome.
  • Aspirin – Can cause Reyes syndrome and bleeding.
  • Chemotherapy – Very toxic to breastfeeding children, even in small amounts.
  • Decongestants – Oral decongestants can cause fussiness in your child.
  • Diuretics – Can suppress your lactation and reduce breast milk supply.
  • Heart and blood pressure medication – Most seem safe but ones with acebutolol, atenolol, nadolol, sotalol, or timolol may accumulate to toxic levels in your babies blood.
  • Hormones – Hormone contraceptives can interfere with lactation and breast milk production if taken in the first six weeks after preganancy.
  • Narcotics – If given during labor they may inhibit lactation.  Can cause drowsiness in nursing babies.
  • Pepto-Bismol – Salicylates ingredients cause an increased risk of Reyes Syndrome and can be toxic to nursing babies.
  • Tranquilizers – May make your child drowsy, avoid any with clozapine which can decrease white blood count.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of medicines to avoid while breastfeeding.  Be sure to talk to your lactation consultant before taking anything while you are breastfeeding.

    Read More About Breastfeeding and Medication:

    Finding Safe Medications While Breastfeeding
    What is a Galactagogue?
    Herbal Remedies and Breastfeeding
    Upset Stomach and Diarrhea Relief

    Things to Avoid While Breastfeeding:

    Medications to Avoid While Breastfeeding
    Six Things to Avoid While Breastfeeding
    Finding Safe Medications While Breastfeeding

    Read More About Things to Add to Your Breastfeeding Diet:

    What should I eat?
    12 more foods to add to your breastfeeding meal plan
    More breastfeeding diet information
    Foods that might cause a fussy baby
    Fussy foods test