Tummy Troubles, Colic, and Mama’s Diet

This question comes from a ScienceofMom reader, who wrote me to ask:

I’m looking for good quality information on whether mom’s diet can really cause tummy trouble in babies, outside of perhaps a milk protein allergy.  I’ve seen arguments that it does, but they seem largely anecdotal.  Yet my pediatrician has never mentioned the possibility that my diet might be causing my 3-month-old infant to have gas bouts at 4 a.m. or so every. single. night.  Instead I’m routinely told that I just need to wait and by 4 months her digestive system will grow up.  –KT

Most of us have heard and read that we don’t need to give up any of our favorite foods in order to breastfeed our babies. In general, this is true, and it is an important message. Between sore nipples and engorged breasts during those first few weeks of motherhood, moms need to know that breastfeeding will eventually (usually) be an easy fit to their lifestyle.

There has even been some recent research showing that maternal diet restriction during lactation may increase baby’s chances of developing allergies. If your baby is NOT showing any signs of tummy troubles, your best bet is to eat a balanced variety of whole foods. Think of it as gently introducing your baby to the proteins of the world via your milk.

However, there have been several studies of the effect of mom’s diet on colic symptoms. Approximately 1 in 5 U.S. infants between 0 and 4 months are considered to have colic. The “Rule of Threes” is used to define colic: A colicky baby has incessant, inconsolable crying for at least 3 hours per day on at least 3 days per week, for more than 3 weeks. Crying is usually the worst in the evening hours. {It isn’t clear from K.T.’s note if her baby actually has colic or just gas – they’re not always the same. I’ve focused this post on colic, because that’s where the research is, but I’m willing to speculate that what works for colicky babies may also help babies with milder types of GI discomfort.}

The truth is that we really don’t know what causes colic. It is probably multi-factorial and has different causes in different babies. (For an interesting account of the history of our understanding of colic and how to manage it, check out this article,The Colic Conundrum, from The New Yorker.) However, there are several lines of evidence that colic is related to intestinal immaturity or imbalance. Colicky babies often seem to be gassy and to have GI discomfort, pulling their legs up to their bellies while crying as if in pain. Research has also shown that colicky babies have intestinal inflammation and abnormal gut motility [1]. In addition, we know that proteins from mom’s diet can pass into breast milk, and some babies seem to be allergic or intolerant of these proteins. That’s where the role of mom’s diet comes in.

Cow’s milk appears to be the most common culprit when it comes to food allergies in infants. It has been estimated to occur in about 0.5-1.0% of exclusively breastfed infants [2]. Studies on the relationship between cow’s milk allergy and colic are mixed, however. In one study, 66 mothers of exclusively breastfed colicky infants eliminated cow’s milk from their diets, and “colic disappearance” was noted in more than half of the infants [3]. When the moms later drank cow’s milk again as a test, colic symptoms returned in 2 out of 3 of the babies. Based on this study, cow’s milk allergy or intolerance would seem to be an important cause of colic.

Other studies of cow’s milk elimination were less successful [4]. A recent study of Saudi babies tested 114 colicky babies for cow’s milk allergy with a skin prick test [5]. Only three of these babies tested positive, and when cow’s milk was removed from the mother’s diet, their colic symptoms disappeared. However, of the remaining 111 babies, eliminating cow’s milk from mom’s diet did not reduce their time spent crying.

So depending on which study you look at, cow’s milk allergy seems to be either very common or rather rare in colicky babies. Hmmm. A tricky thing about these studies is that they rely on mothers being thorough about removing every source of cow’s milk protein from their diet, as it can be hidden in lots of processed foods. This may explain the variable results found between studies. Unless moms live in a research center and eat only controlled meals, it is very difficult to conduct these diet studies that rely on mothers choosing foods within the guidelines and reporting their eating habits accurately. (As I write this, I’m having a flash of horror at the thought of what it would look like to bring 100 colicky infants and their mothers to live in a research center for a week or so. Yikes!) And despite the mixed results from these studies, cow’s milk allergy does seem to cause colic symptoms in some babies.

What about other foods? In 1996, Lust and colleagues reported the results of a survey of maternal diet and colic symptoms in 272 exclusively breastfed infants in the U.S. [6]. Mothers were asked to recall their babies’ behavior and their own dietary habits over the past week. Babies were considered to have colic if they showed abdominal cramping (drawing up of legs, appearing to be in pain), irritability, and intense crying. As a group, mothers with colicky babies had greater intake of the following foods: cow’s milk, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, onion, and chocolate. If you’re curious, the foods NOT associated with colic symptoms were garlic, green peppers, orange juice, brussel sprouts, dried beans, eggs, carrots, beef, and beer. If you have a colicky baby, choose carrot cake and beer rather than chocolate chip cookies and milk.

A 2005 randomized controlled trial of 47 Australian mothers and their colicky babies tested a low-allergen elimination diet [7]. Moms in the low allergen group cut out dairy, soy, wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, and fish. The control moms were instructed to eat all of these foods and were specifically provided with a serving of peanuts, chocolate, and a cow+soy milk drink every day. After 7 days on the low allergen diet, babies cried about 90 minutes per day less than the control babies. 74% of the low-allergen babies showed significant improvement in colic symptoms compared to only 37% of controls (P<0.001). In other words, eliminating common allergens from mom’s diet appeared to really help a significant fraction of colicky babies.

This is slightly off topic, but one of the most interesting things I ran into as I researched this question was about probiotics as a treatment for colic. A 2007 study found that colic improved in a dramatic 95% of babies given Lactobacillus reuteri once per day for 1 month [8]. By the end of the month, these babies were crying for only 51 minutes per day! (Not bad for any baby, I’d say.) Another group of babies was given a drug called simethicone (used to treat gas, though has been shown to ineffective). Only 7% of the simethicone babies improved over the month, and they cried 145 minutes per day. All of the moms in this study also avoided dairy, so the benefits of probiotics were above and beyond those from eliminating dairy.

Lactobacillus reuteri are normal endogenous bacteria found in the GI tract and used as probiotics for many years in adults. The benefits of probiotics in infants are thought to come from the formation of a protective barrier against harmful bacteria (“outcompeting” them with good ones) and perhaps by stimulating the maturation of the immune system. Pediatricians may be reluctant to jump on the probiotic bandwagon just yet, but a previous study found no adverse effects of daily dosing of L. reuteri starting at birth and continuing for 12 months [9]. Therefore, it appears to be safe and is certainly worth discussing with your pediatrician.

Colic is serious. Mothers of colicky babies have 10-fold odds of suffering from depression [10]. When babies cry for hours on end, parents become frustrated, exhausted, and may start to wonder what they are doing wrong. It helps to know that the crying won’t last forever (most babies improve when they are 3-4 months old) and that there is often nothing that can be done. However, I think that anything that may help baby – and parents – feel better is worth a shot. If your baby has colic, the research shows that trying an elimination diet and giving baby probiotics may help. Neither are likely to be a quick fix for all babies, but both are worth trying.

From a practical standpoint, eliminating all potential allergens from your diet sounds daunting to me, particularly when I think about how ravenously hungry I was during the first few months of my baby’s life. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and whole cow’s milk were standbys for me. Because cow’s milk is the most common infant allergy, it makes sense to try that for a week or so first before you throw the baby out with the bath water and go on a complete elimination diet. If you are considering an elimination diet, here are a couple of resources you may find useful:

The American Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s clinical protocol for infant allergies offers a plan for an elimination diet [PDF].

So, what CAN I eat?” is a blog post written by Diana Cassar-Uhl, IBCLC packed with practical advice and links to delicious recipes for breastfeeding moms on elimination diets.

Did you change your diet while breastfeeding? Did this seem to impact your infant?


1. Heine, R.G., Gastroesophageal reflux disease, colic and constipation in infants with food allergy. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol, 2006. 6(3): p. 220-5.

2. The American Academy of Breatfeeding Medicine, ABM Clinical Protocol #24: Allergic Proctocolitis in the Exclusively Breastfed Infant. . Breastfeeding Medicine., 2011. 6(6).

3. Jakobsson, I. and T. Lindberg, Cow’s milk proteins cause infantile colic in breast-fed infants: a double-blind crossover study. Pediatrics, 1983. 71(2): p. 268-71.

4. Evans, R.W., et al., Maternal diet and infantile colic in breast-fed infants. Lancet, 1981. 1(8234): p. 1340-2.

5. Moravej, H., et al., Predictive value of the cow’s milk skin prick test in infantile colic. Ann Saudi Med, 2010. 30(6): p. 468-70.

6. Lust, K.D., J.E. Brown, and W. Thomas, Maternal intake of cruciferous vegetables and other foods and colic symptoms in exclusively breast-fed infants. J Am Diet Assoc, 1996. 96(1): p. 46-8.

7. Hill, D.J., et al., Effect of a low-allergen maternal diet on colic among breastfed infants: a randomized, controlled trial. Pediatrics, 2005. 116(5): p. e709-15.

8. Savino, F., et al., Lactobacillus reuteri (American Type Culture Collection Strain 55730) versus simethicone in the treatment of infantile colic: a prospective randomized study. Pediatrics, 2007. 119(1): p. e124-30.

9. Connolly, E., T. Abrahamsson, and B. Bjorksten, Safety of D(-)-lactic acid producing bacteria in the human infant. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr, 2005. 41(4): p. 489-92.

10. Kurth, E., et al., Crying babies, tired mothers: what do we know? A systematic review. Midwifery, 2011. 27(2): p. 187-94.

59 thoughts on “Tummy Troubles, Colic, and Mama’s Diet

  1. This describes my experience to a T. My second son was colicky; after 3 weeks, I also noticed his poop was spinach green with tiny streaks of blood (!). I called my pediatric advice nurse, who told me “This is totally common! Don’t worry, he’ll grow out of it and be fine.” Which I felt was NOT okay- I called a friend who is a pediatrician and she said “Cow’s milk. Remove every last trace, even in baked goods.” Which was good advice- it turns out that the peptide from casein that triggers the immune response (which is IgE-mediated, I think, so I’m not sure it would show up in a skin-prick test) is intact even under denaturing conditions like baking. Anyway, I got off the dairy and Ollie’s poop turned normal orange-yellow and his crying stopped. If I forgot myself, and say, took a bite of a cupcake with frosting at a birthday party, his poop turned green for two days and the crying resumed. I’m a believer!


    • Colleen, you make another good point — skin prick tests on children under age 2 are highly unreliable, because the immunoglobulins that mediate food allergies are not generally put into action before then (one reason the WHO advocates breastfeeding continue until at least age 2). I’m glad you found the cause of your baby’s trouble. I had a similar experience, with my pediatrician blaming my baby’s blood-streaked diapers on (sit down for this one) my large breasts! I went home, put “bloody infant stools” into a search engine (this was 2002, btw), and found a glut of studies linking cow’s milk to allergic proctocolitis and brought them (and my newly dairy-free baby) to the next appointment. He learned his lesson!


    • In fact – all true allergies are IgE mediated! Skin-prick tests are aiming to estimate if one is having an IgE-mediated response to something, but the accuracy is a very contentious and not-very-well understood thing. It also depends on what antigenic extract they’re using in the lab/ doctor’s office (the skin prick and the immunoassay cannot possibly be using the exact same vial), how long it’s been sitting around, etc. And apparently a lot of kids grow out of dairy allergies? I find this kind of amazing.


      • Thanks so much for clarifying the IgE responses! (immunology was never my strong suit :) My doc said to try a little yogurt at 9 months- is there less casein in yogurt vs milk? I thought yogurt would be gentler of you were lactose intolerant, but I’m unclear about how it would be better for food sensitive kids.


      • Well! There are some pretty good studies including this excellent review article studying when to re-introduce dairy. The Canadian study recommends IgE testing (even though yes, it’s not very accurate in small children, it’s better than nothing), to see if it’s an ‘intolerance’ or a true allergy, and then to try re-introduction no sooner than one year and sometimes well after. Usually something baked with a tiny bit of dairy (muffin made at home with a little milk) is used for the challenge.

        This Italian study (for some reason allergy is much studied in Italy) shows mean age at tolerance (achieved in only about 60% of children) is > 2 years. This study demonstrates that elimination for at least 12 months is generally needed to achieve tolerance.

        As for yogurt, the bacteria do partially digest the proteins, (see here for an example) but antigenic regions are generally quite short and are functionally denatured by the antibody-binding so it doesn’t make a huge difference for the severely allergic. Lactose is present in breastmilk so your kid won’t develop a lactose intolerance.

        As it happens I am severely dairy-allergic (it runs in the family- like a get-an-Epi-Pen variety) but was not in infancy. Which is why I know about it!


      • P.S. If you ever give your kid probiotics for any reason, know that the most common varieties are all contaminated with dairy (Florajen, etc.). Various internet sources and, e.g., our local co-op sell vegan ones that are not. (I took one and had a take-two-Benadryl-and-lay-down quality reaction, which is how I know.)


      • Jenny, thanks for all the information and references! It is so nice to have this discussion with smart mamas:) One thing that caught my eye in the Canadian review you linked to – they say that CMA may occur in up to 15% of infants! I didn’t pursue their citation, but wouldn’t be surprised to find that many current estimates, like the 0.5-1.0% that I cited from the ABM protocol (although that was specific to breastfed babies), are very conservative. I do wonder if this doesn’t occur in more babies, perhaps causing a milder reaction (an intolerance rather than a true allergy I guess). Anyway, thanks to you, Diana, and Colleen for sharing your experiences and knowledge.


      • And oh, thank you for the warning about probiotics! I wonder if there are any products on the market that are formulated specifically for infants? The paper I read on them were from Italy and Sweden, and it sounds like they are used more commonly in Europe than here in the U.S.


  2. I didn’t tolerate cow’s milk as a baby, and when my mom came to visit when my babies (twins) were little, she took one look at my daughter and told me I needed to go off dairy. I did, and eliminated soy while I was at it just in case. About three weeks after going off dairy (and I was fastidious; I read every label and knew all the dairy codewords), we gave my daughter a bottle of milk pumped from when I was still on dairy. She projectile vomited it all over the living room. I was eventually able to add soy back in, and later tried goat’s milk and found my daughter had no symptoms from that. She remained intolerant of cow’s milk til about 17 months. Now she seems to have no problem with it.


  3. Alice, I love this post (and thanks for the link)! You found a few studies I haven’t seen yet, too and this is obviously a primary interest for me, given that the vast majority of breastfeeding problems I see seem tied to something in mother’s diet (keeping in mind that I don’t typically see the mothers and babies for whom everything is going well).

    One aspect that has gone glaringly missing from the research (and I wish someone would undertake it) is the gut integrity and allergic status of the MOTHERS whose babies are reacting to something in the breastmilk they’re getting. Since breastmilk is made from what’s in the mother’s bloodstream (not her digestive system), the irritants/allergens, which are typically larger molecules, have to be able to pass through into the mother’s bloodstream in order to make it into the milk. In a healthy, non-allergic/non-sensitive mother, no offending proteins are making it to the baby. In a mother with, say, gluten intolerance (for which there is currently no diagnostic biomarker, unless the mother has celiac disease), her digestive tract may have tiny irritations, through which these proteins pass into her bloodstream. It is recommended that solid food not be given to babies under 6 months because that 6-month mark is when the gut “seals” (SIgA in breastmilk does the protective job in the meantime), therefore lowering the risk of allergy in the baby. If baby is exposed to these proteins via mother’s milk, though …

    One of the incredible things about breastfeeding is that the mother and baby are so intimately linked — not just physically, but immunologically and in other ways that are not immediately obvious. When we learn something about one part of the dyad, that knowledge opens the door for learning something about the other half. In this case, I’d love to go back to those mothers whose babies improved dramatically after dairy was eliminated and see what is common about them but lacking in the mothers whose babies did not seem to do better … maybe we’d uncover a new diagnostic biomarker for food allergies, sensitivities, or immune responses that are not mediated by the typical immunoglobulins.

    Thanks for digging deeper into this topic — one of my favorites, for sure! :)


    • Diana, I’ve referred readers and friends to your posts on this several times. Your practical list of good foods and recipes is so helpful!

      Your thoughts on the link between allergies in moms and babies are fascinating. I agree – it sounds like a great area of study and one that could reveal a better understanding of food allergies in general and infants’ developing immune system. I will keep an eye out for related studies.


    • That’s exactly what I was wondering about and why I was looking at this article. I’m pregnant. I’ve had trouble with milk my whole life. My mom only recently told me that I have a true milk allergy (or at least did when I was tested as a little girl.) I’ve really been craving dairy my whole second trimester. I still get morning sickness if I don’t eat enough dairy, but I get stomach aches when i do eat it. Anyway, I was wondering if my being allergic to milk would make it harmful for my baby if I have dairy. So I guess not exactly the same, but along the same lines. Anyway, it’s good to know that there isn’t really any research out there on it. If any of you have ideas on what I could replace dairy with and hopefully get the same nutrients (I’m assuming that my pregnant body needs whatever is in milk) that would be really helpful as I don’t want to unwittingly harm my baby, nor do I like stomach aches if I don’t have to have them :)


  4. Yes! My little one was most mild tempered and easy going after birth and shortly there after but one day as if a breaker had blown in her little cranium she became unconsulable and this would repeat at about the same time for about a week. She also stooled green which is an important red flag in exclusively breastfed infants that there is a GI problem. After doing some research I decided to try taking dairy out first. It was like have a new baby, or the one I started with rather. We remained dairy free for about 7 or 8 months, were able to later reintroduce processed dairies ie: cheese and yogurt and now I can drink milk again although I like it less since growing accostom to other plant milks.


  5. Oh Alice. Will you go into pediatrics? I dealt with two colicky infants and went from doctor to doctor trying to figure out the answers. Only after going to a holistic practitioner was I told to eliminate dairy and give them probiotics. It seems that mannnny pediatricians aren’t informed or up-to-date on the issue of colic. Thank you so much for posting this!


    • I have heard several stories now like yours – of pediatricians or nurses disregarding food allergies or intolerances as a potential cause for a fussy baby. That’s too bad. Although I’m sure eliminating dairy or other offending foods is challenging for new moms, I would think that most would be willing to try anything to help a colicky baby feel better. It just seems like it is worth a try, right? I do wonder if this possible problem (and the solution) is downplayed a bit because pediatricians and breastfeeding advocates don’t want new moms to think that they have to give up foods they like or make big lifestyle changes in order to breastfeed. I think moms deserve accurate information and can handle a more nuanced message here!


  6. My son wasn’t terribly “colicky” in the sense described above, but he did tend to spit up rather dramatically. I went off dairy and caffeine for a while, and, sure enough, the vomiting/spitting up ceased almost completely. He also seemed calmer. My kids tend to be rather mellow, so a small upset is noticeable. After being off dairy for a few weeks, we, too, gave him a bottle of pumped milk from the pre-dairy-free days. And he spit up all over my mom. Go figure. He’s now 9 months and shows no discomfort or reaction to anything I eat, so I’ve been able to dive back in to pizza and mac’n’cheese and Starbucks with gusto at this point. I’ve even given him little bits of mac’n’cheese without a problem. It’s nice to know that they often do grow out of it.


    • That’s an interesting topic but one for another day. I didn’t run into any studies of raw milk consumption in breastfeeding moms, but I doubt if switching to raw milk would help babies with a cow’s milk allergy. I have heard about studies showing fewer allergies in kids that grow up drinking raw milk (though I haven’t read them), but I personally would be very wary to serve raw milk to my child, given the risk for foodborne illness. We had an outbreak of E. coli 0157 here in Oregon a few months ago. 19 people were sickened, 15 of them children, and 4 children were hospitalized with kidney failure. That’s not a risk I’m willing to take. I’ll just let my child play in the dirt and snuggle with our dog and cat:)


  7. I went off dairy for ~9 months while nursing my first child, and it was a huge help. If I had diary, she’d get what I called “screaming gas”- and yeah, she would just cry non stop, for hours on end. After a couple of days off dairy, things were much, much better. I tried to reintroduce at about 6 months, and the screaming gas returned, so I dropped it again. That is rare- most babies outgrow the problem by ~6 months, according to my doctor. I am a HUGE dairy fan, so giving it up was hard, but we managed, and it made life so much better.

    With the second baby, I just eliminated dairy from the start, but she didn’t seem to have a problem, so I was back on dairy within a few months, I think.

    Both kids drink cow’s milk just fine now.


    • I wonder if there is a correlation for dairy sensitivity between siblings? I didn’t run into any information on that. I’m glad to hear that you are all able to enjoy your dairy now – I would have a hard time giving it up too!


  8. By the way, I just baked from “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World” and Oh. My. Delicious! Great for people eliminating dairy or eggs, too. I’m not even vegetarian, much less vegan, but Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s cookbooks are great for people looking for healthy, dairy-free vegetarian food. (Nobody gave me anything to write this, my own personal opinion; I checked the books out from the library.)


  9. Something important to know when removing things from your diet is first you must find a way to replace what you will be missing and secondly things like dairy take 2-3 WEEKS to be competely out of your system so even if you don’t see improvements within a few days doesn’t mean you should give up! I donate my breastmilk and have gone dairy free because the child I donated to had a bad reaction to it. His mother recently ate a small amount of something that contained dairy by accident and again he had a bad reaction. So even a tiny amount can cause reactions in babies. Cutting out things from your diet can be difficult but the benefits of giving your child breastmilk definitely out weigh the trouble you go through cutting something out! Plus it is another easy way to shed a few extra baby pounds you may have had hanging around!


    • True! It took a while for my son’s system to get completely normal, but I switched to soy. Luckily, I live in Portland, where alternative milks abound. Unluckily, my baby’s also sensitive to nuts (so no almond, hazelnut, or nut milk). I went over to soy, but now I’m drinking so much soy milk in my lattes and for my cereal (about 24 oz a day) I’m worried about the isoflavones having hormonal effects on my baby through the breastmilk. I’ve found a few studies on Pubmed (including one in the Lancet in 1997) saying soy formula-fed infants had an order of magnitude higher levels of the phytoestrogens, but I’m not finding anything on whether Mama drinking soy can pass these through to baby as well- thoughts my expert Mamas? (and yeah, I’m going to try rice milk and/or hemp milk to mix it up a bit)


      • Oh, that’s a great question, Colleen! I don’t know the answer, but I’ll look into it. Maybe other mamas will know more. I think the jury is still out on soy formulas, but I would think that exposure via breast milk would be much lower.


  10. Thank you so much for the tip about probiotics. None of my babies have had lactose or food-sensitivity, but I am going to pass that information along whenever I can.

    Your question of what CAN a nursing mother eat is interesting and I wanted to share a few of my successes. My son is 5 months old now and nursing and occasionally he goes through a phase (few days to a week at a time) where he is exceptionally fussy when he nurses. He struggles more, pulls off frequently, cries, and refuses to settle down. I’ve speculated that its fatigue (his, although mine is probably worse!), an unpleasing flavor (maybe that energy bar I ate for lunch because I was too busy to stop), but more often than not I think it has to do with not having enough milk and it not flowing quickly enough for him.

    Lately I’ve found that if I eat fresh ginger (a 3-4 inch piece per day) he is much more patient and satisfied when he nurses. And of course, if he nurses patiently and fully, it encourages the cycle of better milk production. I usually slice the ginger, boil it in water, make several cups of tea, and then snack on the ginger throughout the day. I’ve also had similar successes with garlic- no garlic tea, however- but I prefer using ginger since the garlic makes me reek.


    • Interesting. Do you think the ginger flavor comes through in your milk? Have you tasted it? That’s a fair amount of ginger you’re talking about, but I love ginger. Drank ginger tea and ate ginger snaps all through my pregnancy!


      • I have tasted it but I don’t detect the ginger. However, he’s the real connoisseur so maybe its there. I’ve also wondered if the ginger increases my milk supply and that’s the reason he’s happier.


        • ginger tea helps colicky babies (gripe water contains ginger). my second baby had some digestive issues. I used to drink ginger, dill, fennel and chamomile tea (home made) and when she needed it, i would give a little bit to her….


  11. Thank you for this post, and your gradual-elimination recommendation– it is so timely for me and my son, who has just started crying constantly after one month of being sweet and easygoing. I worried I was unknowingly doing something to hurt him … if he continues this kind of crying, eliminating dairy (to start with) from my diet is a very small price to pay. After a couple days of the crying, and watching him squirm and grunt, I can safely say that being vigilant will not be a problem. He’s in pain, I’m worn out– I can do without milk in my tea!


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  13. I’m not recalling the source offhand, but I read somewhere that something like 25% of babies with dairy protein intolerance are also soy intolerant. So, it’s important not to just switch everything dairy over to soy equivalents. I am sensitive to external sources of estrogen, and there’s a recent study about bad long term health outcomes related to soy formula/exposure due to the plant estrogen in soy, so when restricting dairy I didn’t swap to soy like it seems many people do.

    I don’t recall the names, but there is at least one of the congenital lactose intolerance diseases that only applies to the first six months of life. Also, lactose tolerance is apparently a western European/Caucasian genetic inheritance, and other cultures are mostly intolerant as adults.


    • Hi! If you can find it, can you provide a link to the study on long term effects of soy formulas? I thought the jury was still out on that, but I definitely understand the concern. I’d love to read more if you can find a link. Thanks!


  14. I LOVE your blog! My husband and I are just starting to try and get pregnant and I love all this great information about more than just nursery decorating and stuff (though I love that stuff too :) ). Awesome stuff!


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  16. I think the contributions on this blog are exceptional and very, very helpful. It certainly helped me as a new mum to understand what I was eating and how it impacted on my newborn.
    Turkan Smith


  17. I was happy to find this info. It proved helpful even after the last twelve months of confusion about reasons for my baby’s GI and colic issues. My infant seemed to have COLIC and GI troubles and associated food allergy symptoms since he was born. Skin prick test only resulted in egg allergy results. Perhaps the others aren’t IgE mediated. . Maybe he’s just more vocal and sensitive than other babes, but his discomfort was physically visible within his watery eyes, bum rash, full-body eczema, cradle cap, thrush, gas and finally bloody stools. I first tried probiofics which didn’t show immediate results, but I’m sure helped a little.One by one, I eliminated all dairy, wheat gluten, soy and eggs from my diet. My breastfed infant improved immediately. Symptoms would return immediately if foods were reintroduced. I’m concerned now because he’s facing similar difficulties with solids. He prefers breastmilk. Fine, but he needs supplemental solids to complete his needed nutritional intake. I’ve just been patient knowing his gut is sensitive, but I worry about his nutritional intake. Any advice would be welcomed.


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  19. There has been a lot of recent research on the whole “wheat thing” – hardly anyone has an immediate IgE reaction to wheat; more often it is something which takes place as the item is digested (an IgG reaction). Instead of going the skin prick route for an IgE reaction, request an Antigliadin IgG Antibody blood test. Make sure it is IgG. Gliadin is the protein found in wheat, and this test will show whether there are circulating antibodies to wheat/gliadin and whether the body is creating antibodies to fight what it perceives as BAD. My son had “colic” for 2 YEARS (crying, projectile vomiting, projectile diarrhea, constant loose stools, blood in stools), and the most advice we got from the pediatrician was “he’ll grow out of it.” He was all right from two to nine, when he again became very ill. This time he lost over 10 pounds (from normal to skeletal) and was constantly nauseated, with vomiting and diarrhea. After seeing dozens of doctors and finally going to the Mayo Clinic, we discovered (mostly thru PubMed) that he was having a reaction to gluten/gliadin. Check Dr. Alessio Fasano’s research on PubMed and also Dr. Marios Hadjivassiliou’s research (neurological problems due to gluten) also on PubMed. Now when he is exposed to gluten, he has diarrhea for a day or two – not pleasant. Today’s wheat bears no resemblance to yesterday’s wheat – it has probably double the amount of protein (gliadin). It is very scary when you nearly lose your child to something as stupid as CAKE.


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  21. Pingback: Breast Feeding News | breast feeding diet plan

  22. Pingback: Managing Oversupply: When Abundance is a Curse | THE TAPROOT DOULA PROJECT

  23. Pingback: meeting: starting solids/family nutrition | Breastfeeding Support Network of Charleston, Illinois

  24. Pingback: meeting: starting solids/family nutrition | Breastfeeding Support Network of Charleston, Illinois

  25. I thought, as the original asker of this question, I’d provide an update. In the case of my older daughter, who prompted the question, time was the answer. By 15 weeks her gas issues disappeared. She still had sleep issues – some combination of a lingering Moro reflex in a Houdini baby who busted out of every swaddle and poor sleep associations – but the gas problems disappeared.

    I’m now the mother of two, and my almost 17 week old has far worse gas than I could have imagined with my oldest. She also has acid reflux. I’ve referred to this article’s links many times – probiotics if anything made thing worse. Strictly eliminating dairy and soy for 2 weeks at the pediatrician’s suggestion had no impact. My oversupply is well managed at this point. At least on work days I seem to pump exactly what she eats. I tried the wait-it-out method and it’s not working. At this point I’m considering a more serious elimination diet, though we will see what the pediatrician says at the 4 month well visit next week. I thought the first time I went through this process was bad – the second has been beyond draining for everyone in the family.


    • KT, I’m so glad that you left an update but sorry to hear that you’re going through this again. It’s frustrating how little we know about these newborn problems, and it seems like trial and error is the best we can do. I hope things get better soon with your second! You’ll have to let us know if you find an answer (not that it will necessarily be the same for the next baby!).


      • Looks like time again. This time it took until 18 weeks. While the pediatrician assured me it would happen by 16 weeks the Internet assures me that in some cases it takes until 5 months. Unfortunately because the problems last so long I end up with sleep association issues because those develop around 13 weeks and I’m left soothing my in-pain kids until weeks later than that. It’s a little maddening! I’m left looking back wishing we’d gone with rock ‘n’ play sleep, swing sleep, whatever to just get her sleeping through since she developed sleep problems anyway!


        • KT I feel like you are telling my story! Oversupply issues, gas issues with my tongue-tied second child that resolved around 4 months, currently more severe gas issues with my third child at 6 months old and we are still waiting it out! And then the sleep issues – my third child was a great sleeper the first couple weeks until her gas started, and ever since we have done whatever we had to in order to get her to sleep, including the rocker and lots of nursing. I am so glad that yours finally resolved. Now at 6 months I have no idea what could possibly be our issue!


      • I have to add – having just returned from a local pediatric dentist who specializes in infant laser frenectomies I may have found a significant contributing cause for both my children! My oldest has a class IV lip tie, my youngest a class III tongue and class III lip tie. Both exhibit(ed) so many of the symptoms associated with ties. With my oldest it was extremely painful early nursing, marathon nursing sessions, and never really spacing out daytime feedings, plus the gas. For my youngest it has been the gas, reflux, plugged ducts and mastitis on my part, and now that my oversupply has resolved I’m starting to see feeding concerns. I’m hoping a revision of the ties will help, even though we’re late the revision game.

        I’m kicking myself because the youngest’s tongue tie was caught by our pediatrician at a week but I was having no pain so we didn’t address it. I wish I’d known more then!


  26. Request the Antigliadin IgG Antibody test (see my earlier comment just above). Also – for reasons still elusive to conventional medicine, eliminating processed and refined carbohydrates eliminates “acid reflux” symptoms. Certainly worth trying!


  27. This is a great discussion! My little guy is 14 weeks and is having random stools streaked with blood. It seems to be related to soy as I had Japanese food prior to a majority of occurrences but I am not positive. He is a pretty gassy guy no matter what I eat. I get the nightly gas wake up too. How quickly do you see a reaction in your LO after breastfeeding from eating an offending food? In addition I have not found any information on just soy intolerance in infants. Has anyone come across this in their research?


  28. Pubmed doesn’t have much – there is a study that states that vomiting and diarrhea are not symptoms of colic…I beg to differ. Not only was there nearly constant crying (stopped only when he slept, which was rarely), but my son had projectile vomiting and projectile stools – so much so that he was hospitalized several times for severe dehydration. When he had blood in his stools, we were told to rush him to the hospital, so that is a pretty serious thing, too. I have no idea why no one questioned what he was eating (through ME, the nursing mom). There is an odd disconnect there. There are only two pages of soy/colic studies in PubMed – here is one: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16641572 . Looking back, I would have cut out all processed foods and all grains and only eaten vegetables, fruits and meats/fish.


  29. We “believe” we avoided colic by using the methods described by Gina Ford (I know she’s hated but I do not care if someone doesn’t like her, I care if my baby is ok and not crying). More accurately by properly breastfeeding. We didn’t focus on the diet at all. My wife wrote an article about our experience called Colic. A few of our friends were not as lucky (or precautious) and they were helped either by fennel tea or by Biogaia drops.

    Colic definitely are one of those things where it is better to be a bit paranoid than to have to experience it.


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