Understanding and Managing Colic in Breastfed Babies

Colic in babies can be a perplexing and exhausting challenge for new parents. As someone who's witnessed the trials and tribulations of dealing with colic, I can attest to the emotional rollercoaster it brings. Below, I'll share insights and strategies to help you navigate this challenging phase.

What is Colic?

The Frustrating Reality of Infant Colic

Colic is like a mysterious puzzle with a crying baby at its center. It's heartbreaking to see your little one in distress, especially when the cause of their discomfort is unclear. From my experience, understanding colic is the first step towards finding peace for both you and your baby.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

  • Prolonged Crying: More than just regular fussiness, this can be intense and last for hours.
  • Physical Signs: Look for clenched fists, an arched back, and a tense, flushed face.

Possible Causes and Factors

The exact cause of colic is like a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces. However, some common factors include:

Factors Description
Overstimulation Too much sensory input can overwhelm a baby.
Digestive Issues Gas and reflux are common suspects.
Feeding Challenges Both overfeeding and underfeeding can contribute to colic.
Environmental Stress Exposure to tobacco smoke and family stress might play a role.

The Complications of Ignoring Colic

Leaving colic unaddressed can lead to serious issues. As tough as it is, seeking help is crucial for your baby's well-being.

Colic and Feeding: Breastfeeding vs Formula Feeding

A Personal Perspective on Feeding Methods

In my circle of friends, I've seen both breastfeeding and formula feeding. Each has its pros and cons, but understanding these can empower you to make the best decision for your baby.


Breast milk is a miracle liquid, but it can also bring potential allergens into your baby's diet.

Formula Feeding

Formula offers consistent nutrition but can be harder for some babies to digest.

Dealing with Allergies and Intolerances

If your baby has a milk allergy or intolerance, adapting your diet or formula choice is key. Remember, not all colic is due to allergies, so keep an open mind.

How to Soothe a Colicky Baby

Tried and Tested Soothing Techniques

I've seen these methods work wonders for many colicky babies:

  • Upright Position: Great for easing gas.
  • Gentle Rocking: A time-tested calming technique.
  • Massage: Can be very soothing, especially for tummy troubles.
  • White Noise: Mimics the sounds of the womb.
  • Swaddling: Provides a sense of security.
  • Pacifier: A simple yet effective soother.

Essential Coping Strategies for Parents

It's not just about the baby; parents need to take care of themselves too. Here are some lifesavers:

  • Take a Break: Never feel guilty for needing a moment.
  • Talk to Someone: Sharing your struggles can be incredibly relieving.
  • Find Support: Knowing you're not alone in this can be a huge comfort.

Medical Interventions and Treatments

When to Seek Professional Help

If your baby's symptoms are severe or persistent, it's time to consult a healthcare provider. They can offer invaluable guidance and support.

Available Treatments: Beyond the Basics

Sometimes, medical intervention is necessary. Probiotics, gripe water, and prescribed medications can make a big difference.

In conclusion, while colic is a challenging phase, it's also a temporary one. With patience, understanding, and the right approach, you can help your baby through this tough time. Remember, every baby is unique, so what works for one may not work for another. Keep trying, stay strong, and know that this too shall pass.

showing how to latch a baby on, how to know a baby is getting milk, how to use compressions, go to www.drjacknewman.com .  

Questions? Email Jack Newman at drjacknewman@sympatico.ca, or Edith Kernerman at breastfeeding@sympatico.ca or consult: Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding (called The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers in the USA) or our DVD, Dr. Jack Newman’s Visual Guide to Breastfeeding; or The Latch Book and Other Keys to Breastfeeding Success; or L-eat Latch & Transfer Tool, or the GamePlan for Protecting and Supporting Breastfeeding in the First 24 Hours of Life and Beyond.  See our website at www.drjacknewman.com.  To make an appointment email breastfeeding@ccnm.edu and respond to the auto reply or call 416-498-0002. 

Handout Colic in the Breastfed Baby, Revised May 2008
Written and Revised by Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC 1995-2005
Revised by Edith Kernerman, IBCLC, and Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC © 2008

 This handout may be copied and distributed without further permission,
on the condition that  it is not used in any context that violates
the International WHO Code on The Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes


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