Colic: Will an elimination diet help colic?

My wife has been eliminating certain foods to see if it helps with our baby's occasional nighttime colic. How long does it takes for food she eats to reach her breastmilk and will avoiding certain foods help our baby's tummy troubes?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Certain foods and drinks can enter mother's milk in as little as 20 to 30 minutes. Some mothers notice that a particular food that they eat causes fussiness and gassiness in their baby up to 24 hours later.

Colicky behavior is quite common in babies, possibly affecting up to one third of babies under the age of three months. Unless you have narrowed down what seems to be causing colicky behavior in your baby (perhaps, by use of a food diary), I would advise not arbitrarily eliminating foods from your diet in order to find an "offending" food. Most moms and babies do fine when the mother continues to eat her normal, healthy and varied diet.

If after keeping a food diary in which you also record your baby's behavior, you feel that there is a food which causes your baby difficulty, I would recommend omitting it from your diet to see if your baby responds positively. If you see no change after a week or so, it is doubtful that food was causing your baby any problem.

If anyone in your family has a history of allergy, asthma, or dermatitis, some experts believe it is wise to avoid eating allergy-producing foods (to which they are sensitive) while breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that nursing moms with allergic babies try altering their diets to eliminate cow's milk, eggs, fish, peanuts and tree nuts such as pecans, almonds and walnuts, since a very small percentage of babies are allergic to these proteins in their milk. (August 2000)

Dairy products, in particular, may cause severe fussiness or gassiness in the sensitive baby. If you decide to try a dairy-free diet, be sure to read all labels and give this diet a try for at least two weeks to see if it is helpful. Be sure that you continue to obtain enough protein and calcium from other foods or supplements if you do decide to eliminate dairy products from your diet.

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