Q. I am an experienced nursing mother and am having problems with my fourth baby who is six weeks old. He seems to be what is commonly called “colicky.” He cries a lot and pulls up his little feet after eating like his tummy is hurting him. He is ONLY receiving breastmilk and I just can’t figure out what the problem is.
A. One of the first questions I would ask a mom in my office who presented with this problem would be, “Have you removed all dairy from your diet?” Dairy is a common cause of not only of lots of extra gas and colic-like symptoms, but often reflux symptoms as well. With babies who have larger gas/cramp/colic issues, I am also careful to take out all eggs, peanuts, citrus and even all wheat. This is tough but it’s worth a try as are the simple anti-reflux tricks like keeping him upright meticulously after all feeds.
True colic, a condition thought to be related to irritable bowel syndrome of adults, is very rare in breastfeeding babies.
One crucial thought, most babies, especially first babies, who are thought to be “colicky” really just need to be fed and held more. A common phone call to my office often goes like this:
Mom: “My baby cries every time we put him down.”
Us: “What happens when you pick him up and feed him?”
Mom: “He stops crying.”
Us: “Perhaps he is going through a growth spurt and needs to eat more or is feeling the need for a little extra contact and cuddling.”
Mom: “Thank you. My friend [mother, father, husband, book given as gift] said I could spoil him if I picked him up every time he cried.”
Us: “That extra hugging and feeding will only teach your baby that he’s loved more and teach him to trust you more and more. You can’t do any harm by loving your baby and feeding your baby as much as he wants and you want.”
Mom: “Thank you.”