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Conquer Colic

By Christine Wood, MD

Conquer Colic

One thing most moms can agree on is how challenging it is to have a baby with colic. A common question I get from distraught parents: “Is it colic… or something else?” While colic is most typically identified as inconsolable crying without an obvious reason, sometimes we can identify a cause for colic-like behavior.

Babies can be fussy with feedings, but if your baby is spitting up—a lot—discuss this with your healthcare provider, especially if baby arches her back or cries while feeding.

Consider these situations and suggestions the next time you have a seemingly colicky baby in your arms:

Could it be?Try:
Food allergies in breastfed babiesSome babies are sensitive or allergic to certain foods. There’s a difference in these two problems even though symptoms can look the same. Food sensitivity or intolerance causes gassiness, fussiness, or a change in stools. Examples would be diarrhea, cramping, and bloating because of lactose intolerance. Babies can also be sensitive to foods you eat while nursing, like broccoli, cabbage, onions, beans, garlic, chocolate, caffeine or spicy foods. Skip or eliminate these foods to see if it makes a difference for baby.True food allergies may cause symptoms like chronic congestion, hives, eczema, gassiness, fussiness, wheezing, vomiting or diarrhea. If you suspect a food allergy, discuss it with your baby’s healthcare provider.
Overactive let-down reflexIf you’re making more milk than you may need at each feeding, baby may be chugging and gulping, which can make them gassy, or fussy, or even accidentally pull off your breast early. Try nursing just one side per feeding and position baby so she is more upright.
Low milk supplyAt the end of the day, milk supply can diminish. Try pumping a few ounces after every feeding, especially in the morning, and save for future use, or for a top-off bottle in the evening once breastfeeding is well established (usually after 3 to 4 weeks of nursing). If your baby seems hungry and fussy all day long, have a weight check to make sure he or she is getting enough milk and gaining appropriately.
Formula sensitivities, allergiesAre you feeding baby formula, which may include cow’s milk, soy or both? Babies can react to these ingredients; discuss your suspicions with your provider before changing formula.
Swallowing excess airThis may occur when baby cries a lot or gets air with bottle-feeding. Try burping baby frequently, each time you switch sides and after each feeding.

Christine Wood, MD, is a practicing pediatrician and author of How to Get Kids to Eat Great & Love It.


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