How to Breastfeed a Colicky Baby

Three Methods:Adjusting Your Diet and Your Breast Feeding TechniquesCalming Down a Colicky BabyRecognizing the Symptoms of Colic

Colic means infants who have uncontrollable episodes of crying but are otherwise healthy. Both breastfed and bottle fed babies can be colicky. The exact cause of colic is unknown. Babies can be colicky during breast feeding, making feeding times difficult, and also in between feedings.

Part 1
Adjusting Your Diet and Your Breast Feeding Techniques

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    Eliminate milk, cheese, and other dairy products from your diet for two weeks. Many of the things you eat will enter your breast milk, and some babies can be particularly sensitive to the proteins in breast milk from dairy items.[1]
    • If your baby is sensitive to dairy in your breast milk, they may have intestinal irritation and pain.
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    Stop eating nuts, grains (especially wheat and corn), highly caffeinated beverages, and spicy food. These foods have also been attributed to irritating most babies if they get into your breast milk.[2]
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    Pay close attention to your baby’s usual feeding schedule. You will know that she’s hungry when she starts whimpering or making sucking sounds. Try to adhere to a consistent feeding schedule for your baby.
    • Don’t wait for your baby to be ravenous before feeding her, as this can make her agitated, and an agitated baby may be difficult to calm down and get to latch on to your nipple. An agitated baby also may swallow a great deal of air along with the milk, leading to abdominal discomfort and gassiness.
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    Try different feeding positions to find the one your baby prefers. Some babies prefer to be held and some feed better when their mother is reclining or lying in bed.[3]
    • If your baby is a “spitter” or suddenly stops feeding and cries, there may be some acid reflux. Try holding her in your arms in an upright position.
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    Find out which breast your baby prefers and use only that breast. Using one breast during feeding or the breast your baby prefers will lead to less fussiness and better feeding.[4] During a feeding on only one breast, the breast milk becomes more calorie dense for your baby.
    • If your baby is feeding well, there’s no reason to stop a feeding session to switch breasts. But if your baby is still hungry after finishing on one breast, use the other breast.[5]
    • Your breasts may become a bit lopsided if your baby is only feeding on one breast. This is usually much more noticeable to mothers than to others. If this is bothersome to you, pump the lopsided breast after feeding is complete.
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    Burp your baby frequently during the feeding. Do this if your baby is prone to gassiness or if they tend to spit up. There are several effective positions you can use to burp your baby. If one doesn’t work, try another one until you find a position your baby likes.[6]
    • Hold her facing you and against your chest with her chin resting on your shoulder.
    • Sit her on your lap, facing you.
    • Lay her on your lap, belly down.
    • No matter which position your baby prefers, gently pat or rub their back to help them burp.

Part 2
Calming Down a Colicky Baby

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    Swaddle your baby in a blanket with her arms down. Colicky babies don’t just cry during feedings. Swaddling your baby will calm them down, regardless of whether they are breast or formula fed.[7]
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    Hold your baby on her side or stomach. This will help to relax and calm her down. However, only position a baby on their backs when you them put to sleep.
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    Try singing or speaking to your baby. More “face time” like singing or speaking to her while you hold her will comfort her.
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    Gently swing or bounce your baby. The rocking motion will be similar to the gentle motion of being in your uterus before birth.
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    Give your baby a pacifier. Many babies will calm down by sucking on their pacifier.
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    Place a warm water bottle on your baby’s abdomen. Some mothers find this soothing for their baby. Be sure to use warm water from the tap. Never use boiling water or heat the water in a microwave.
    • The water should feel comfortably warm on your skin, with a temperature of no more than 102 °F (39 °C).
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    Keep in mind that colic will disappear by 4 to 5 months of age. As long as your doctor confirms that your baby is growing normally and is healthy, your baby’s colic should disappear by the time they are 5 months old.
    • If none of these techniques may be working, there is still a light at the end of the tunnel!

Part 3
Recognizing the Symptoms of Colic

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    Notice if your baby displays the “3 rules of 3”. Babies usually become colic after two weeks old, and will cry at least three hours a day, three days a week or more, and for more than three weeks, displaying the “3 rules of 3”.[8]
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    Be aware of conditions that can mimic colic. These include infections like an ear or urinary tract infection, gastroesophageal (“acid”) reflux, intussusception (telescoping of one piece of the intestine into another) and other intestinal problems, physical injury, and an accidentally scratched eye.
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    If your baby has a fever, is vomiting, or has bloody stool, call your doctor. These symptoms are not from colic and could indicate a serious issue or infection.

Article Info

Categories: Babies and Infants | Breastfeeding