Posts Tagged ‘colic’

Foods that Cause Colic

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

maisie cry 1When my oldest son was born, we could use him to tell time. At pretty much exactly 7pm each evening until 11pm, he would cry. And cry. And cry. I wore a path in the carpet walking back and forth with him in the carrier, as this was the only thing that seemed to soothe him. Diagnosis? Colic.

If you’re breastfeeding and your baby has colic, it’s worth investigating whether it’s something that you are eating that’s causing tummy issues (and therefore irritability) in your infant. Common food triggers are dairy, caffeine, spicy foods, nuts, some grains, chocolate and sometimes cruciferous veggies, as they can cause gas. Your infant may be sensitive to more than one thing as well.

Sidenote: both breastfed and formula fed babies experience colic. If your child is formula fed and experiencing colic symptoms, you can talk with your pediatrician about changing to another formula.

If you suspect this may be the case, you will need to do an elimination diet. Eliminate one or more of these items for a couple weeks, and see how your baby is doing. If she seems less fussy after two weeks, you then challenge the diet, one food at a time. After a couple days, if your child stays less fussy, add in another, and repeat.

If you’re eliminating foods, you will naturally become an ingredient label super sleuth. Dairy in particular is in a huge number of foods, things you never would think to find it in. If you aren’t cooking from scratch, read every label. Restaurants can be trickier; you often will need to ask your server about the ingredients (chain restaurants generally have nutritional information available online, so you can peruse before you go).

Some good news though; if your child seems sensitive to something you are eating, it doesn’t mean your child will be allergic to that ingredient. More often than not, the child grows out of the sensitivity.

If you think your baby is suffering from colic (with colic, often the entire family suffers together), definitely bring it up with your doctor. She will help you rule out other causes of irritability. And there’s a bit of hope out there as well. Your baby WILL grow out of it. Like everything else newborn, the days are long but the months are short. By four months of age, most babies have grown out of it.

Meaghan Howard is a busy stay-at-home mom to two little boys and a houseful of animals. She and her family are enjoying living overseas for the time being.

Going Dairy Free While Nursing

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Going dairy free while nursingWhen my daughter was 8 weeks old, after 2 months of trying everything to comfort a screaming, spitting, unhappy baby, I went dairy free. I’d talked to her pediatrician about the possibility of her issues being reflux, and while he agreed that she had some of the symptoms, he was reluctant to jump straight to medication, as was I. Instead, we decided to try diet modification to see if that might be what was behind what was vexing my sweet girl.

After hours spent reading Kelly Mom about nursing, reflux, and food sensitivities, I decided to try eliminating dairy from my diet first, as it appeared to be the most common food that could transfer through mother’s milk and cause issues in baby. Thankfully, in our case, dairy did seem to be the culprit and I didn’t have to experiment more with my diet. Within a week she seemed happier, with fewer crying jags and less spit up. To confirm this diagnosis, the few times I slipped up were quickly followed with a long day of screaming.

If you’re considering going dairy free as well, here’s what I learned that I can pass on.

  • Babies with dairy sensitivity are not usually lactose intolerant, although that term is often used. Instead, it’s the cow’s milk protein that they can’t digest. So don’t bother switching to lactose free milk, because it more than likely won’t help. Instead, switch to a dairy-free option such as almond, soy, rice, or even hemp milk. I preferred almond milk myself, but try a few and find what suits you.
  • Read your labels. There’s dairy in more items than you may think. Some babies may not have problems with processed (cooked) dairy, but you may want to skip it all just to be safe.
  • At restaurants, don’t go by the menu alone. Talk to the waiter, or see if they can check with the kitchen if you’re unsure if a dish contains dairy. They don’t always spell out all ingredients on the menu. Most restaurants are more than happy to accommodate.
  • Stick with your prenatal vitamin. Dairy may have previously been a large source of your calcium, Vitamin D, and protein. But sure to continue taking your prenatal vitamins to offset this drop. Also seek out non-dairy options that contain these vitamins. Citrus and dark greens are great for calcium, mushrooms contain vitamin D, and nuts and eggs are a great source of protein.
  • Don’t think all of your treats are gone! To my relief and delight, I found that most of my local coffee shops carried at least one, if not multiple, milk alternative options, so my chai teas and coffees were not off limits! I also found delicious dairy-free sorbet and ice cream options at my local grocery stores. I even found out that you can order a cheese-free pizza! No, for a dairy lover, it’s not nearly as satisfying as the real deal, but it beats watching your husband scarf down slices while you nibble on veggies.

A number of sources I’d read mentioned the tendency for most babies to grow out of this intolerance, and many women who’d walked the same path had seen improvement after baby reached 6 months old, so that’s when I slowly began to reintroduce dairy. I started with processed dairy in small quantities, moving on to hard cheese, then yogurt, and I eventually brought back straight milk last. With each reintroduction, I waited a few days to watch for side effects in my daughter but thankfully never saw any. By the time we began baby led weaning a month later, she never had any issue with any food we offered.

Diet changes are hard, especially with something like dairy, an ingredient that many of us have counted as part of our daily diet for our entire lives. The change it brought to our baby and our household, though, was worth it 10 fold. A few months of inconvenience for me were nothing compared to seeing my baby girl grow healthy and happy.

Have you had to make any dietary changes while nursing? What tips would you give to other moms?

Kate is a mostly stay-at-home mom in the Pacific NW who is glad to have half and half back in her coffee and whose daughter now eats anything and everything.

When Gas Strikes: Ways to Help Your Baby Cope

Friday, January 16th, 2015

When Gas Strikes: Ways to Help Your Baby CopeWhen my daughter was very young she had sensitivity to cow’s milk, like many babies do. When she was 8 weeks old I went on a dairy elimination diet and continued that until she was just over 6 months old, when she seemed to grow out of it. But in those first 8 weeks before we caught on to the issue, all we knew was that we had a screaming, unhappy baby who appeared to be suffering from gas pain and who spit up a lot. Here are a few tricks we used to help her out.

  • Positioning while feeding. Certain positions while eating increase the chance that baby will swallow extra air. Avoid this by feeding baby in an upright position (either at the breast or with a bottle). If bottle feeding, choose bottles that help reduce the amount of air baby swallows, like angled/vented bottles or those with drop in liners.
  • Help baby avoid gulping. With breastfeeding, a forceful let down can overwhelm baby with milk and cause gulping. If you think this is happening, see the above link for ways to remedy the situation. With bottle feeding, it’s important for the same reason to use a low flow nipple that allows baby to sip rather than gulp.
  • Frequent burping. Interrupt baby every 5-10 minutes during feeding to burp them and continue to hold them upright for 30 minutes or so after their final burping. This helps any swallowed air come up, rather than allowing it to get down into their stomach where it can cause pain.
  • Block feeding. For a breastfed baby, sometimes eating twice from the same side is helpful, in that baby drinks more of a balance between fore and hind milk, rather than an overabundance of the more watery foremilk.
  • Massage. Great for bonding and soothing in general, but a gentle circular (clockwise) massage on baby’s tummy can help relieve gas pain. Be sure to use a safe vegetable oil, like coconut oil, or if baby is a little older, a safe massage oil.
  • Gentle exercise. This was daddy-daughter bonding time in our house. He would bicycle her legs during diaper changes to help her pass gas, while making faces and talking to her. She loved it.
  • A different diaper changing position. Lifting baby’s legs up and crunching their stomach can cause additional pain, so try rolling baby from one side to the other in order to remove and replace their diaper.

If all of the above fails to give your baby much comfort, you may need to investigate the cause of the gas, such as reflux or food intolerances, as we did. I found Kelly Mom, along with the links they provide, to be an invaluable resource while going through this extremely trying time. No one wants their baby to be uncomfortable. Keep trying until you find what works for you!

Kate is a mostly stay-at-home-mom of a 2.5 year old little girl. They currently call the Pacific Northwest home.


The Benefits of Infant Massage

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Infant massage is a wonderful way to nurture and bond with your baby while providing some amazing health benefits. When you first start giving your baby massages they might fight you, but I promise if you start small and keep trying, they’ll love it. Infants communicate with their bodies, and massage can help you learn to listen not only for sounds but also listen for non-verbal cues through touch.

Some of the health benefits of regular infant massage include relaxation and better sleep, reduced crying, and a positive impact on stress hormone production. It also helps improve body awareness and can strengthen digestive, circulatory and gastrointestinal systems. A nurturing touch can even help baby feel better when they’re experiencing pain from teething, congestion, gas or colic.

Babies aren’t the only ones who benefit from infant massage–the parent giving the massage also experiences health benefits. Being in a relaxing environment and massaging your loved one can help improve your sense of well-being, reduce blood pressure and stress, and improve your overall health.

There is no magic formula for how to massage your baby. My favorite oil to use is coconut since it’s safe on infants and allergies are rare. As they get older you can incorporate some essential oils as well. Massaging too soon after a feeding might cause an upset stomach, so time your massages for at least 45 minutes after a feeding so they’ve had plenty of time to digest.

Spend some time on the whole body starting at one end, such as the head, and very gently work your way through to the other side. Don’t forget to massage both the back and front of the body. When massaging the belly, make sure you massage in a circular motion starting at the bottom of the belly on baby’s right side. This pushes in the direction of the colon to avoid constipation.

My favorite time to massage my daughter has always been after her nighttime bath as part of her bedtime routine. Find a time when your baby seems to be content, calm and happy, and if your baby turns his or her head and becomes stiff, follow their cues and try again another time.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby.

Can Your Baby Benefit from Probiotics?

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Can Your Baby Benefit from Probiotics?

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in the digestive tract and play many important roles, including protecting against infection, boosting the immune system and assisting in digestion. A baby’s digestive tract is thought to be sterile before birth and colonized with beneficial bacteria by going through the birth canal and drinking breast milk. Babies born via C-section, formula fed or born to mothers who may have less healthy intestinal flora (for any number of reasons) usually benefit from taking probiotics.

The most common gastrointestinal disorders that lead to pediatric visits during the first six months are colic, acid reflux and constipation. All three of these may be helped with regular use of a children’s probiotic. Studies have shown that infants given a probiotic showed less crying and vomiting, and emptied their bowels more each day than the placebo group.

What you eat and your digestive state is what you’re giving your baby during lactation, so it’s important that mom gets plenty of probiotics as well. Some simple ways to get more probiotics into your diet including taking a supplement and eating fermented foods that are naturally high in healthy bacteria and help colonize the gut. Sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, pickled vegetables and kombucha are all good choices, easy to include into a daily diet, and easy to find.

To further improve your baby’s digestion, try giving her a probiotic as well. While no adverse side effects have been shown when giving infants a probiotic, it is always best to check with your pediatrician and decide on a safe dose for your child. Powdered probiotics can be sprinkled on their tongue, put on your nipple right before feeding, or mixed into a bottle. Just a tiny pinch is usually enough for the first few months and can be gradually increased over time to about ¼ teaspoon once a day at about 3 months. Make sure you buy a brand specifically for children since their formulations will be different than those for adults, and check to make sure they are dairy and gluten free.

No matter how old your baby, always start off with a small dose and gradually increase it over time so their gut has time to adjust to the new bacteria.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby.