My baby has been diagnosed with colic at 6 weeks of age. He cries all day, has difficulty burping and does not want to settle at the breast, always pushing away and fighting. What can I do to help?

My baby has been diagnosed with colic at 6 weeks of age. He cries all day, has difficulty burping and does not want to settle at the breast, always pushing away and fighting. What can I do to help?

Colic is often incorrectly or over-diagnosed in babies. This is partially because digestion plays such an overriding role in their lives, and also because both professionals and parents don’t fully understand the effect of diet on a baby’s digestive tract in the early months.A good percentage of babies, just like adults, have a ‘sensitive tummy’ which makes them more prone to flatulence, bloating, cramps and other ‘twinges’ too. A small baby displaying symptoms of pain or discomfort when drinking milk or some time after a feed, with struggling to pass wind but relief once it has happened, red scrunched up faces, arching of the back, rigid tummy muscles, legs drawn up to chest, balled fists and some crying, is often reacting to the milk formula they are on, or dairy, grains and sugar in a breastfeeding mom’s diet.

Breastmilk is perfectly suited to babies and unless the mom’s diet is high in allergenic foods, breast babies will have far fewer symptoms of digestive discomfort. As with so many things, there is not one perfect eating plan for a breastfeeding mom to follow, as babies react differently. If baby sleeps poorly or is simply a fussy, restless little soul, the new mom will often suspect her own diet of causing the discomfort, through her milk. These views are reinforced, sometimes even caused, by doctors and clinic sisters, who often do not themselves fully understand a lactating mom’s dietary needs. If baby cramps or hiccups, you may need more magnesium rich foods like bananas, green vegetables and nuts. If baby fusses at the breast, he or she may be reacting to your bland diet of dairy and bread. Eat more like you did while pregnant as that is the environment your baby grew in and thrived on, even if food was fairly spicy. If one notices that each time a certain food is eaten baby cramps, then avoid this in the early months. Foods that cause bloating in mom are more likely to do so in baby as well, but an approach of moderation in all things is a useful guideline.

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