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I don’t believe in colic!

Posted on June 1st, 2008 by Alison Read 11 Comments - Add Your Own »

Knowing that I helped someone keeps me motivated to keep raising awareness about the effects of food on people’s health and happiness. Yesterday I received an email from a friend of mine thanking me. Here is what she said:

Now you’re probably wondering what I’m thanking you for. Well, in the last 2 weeks, my son has been an absolute angel. He is like a different child. Last night, he slept 8 hours and he’s not even 8 weeks old yet. After cutting dairy out of my diet, he was still a little bit fussy, so I experimented a little more and cut out soy & nuts (I was eating a lot of both) too and it’s been a miracle AND I would have never done any of that if it weren’t for you. He’s not congested anymore either. It makes me so happy that my little guy isn’t uncomfortable anymore. So that is why I’m thanking you.”

That makes me so happy! And confirms why I don’t believe in colic or that some babies are just really “fussy” (I never liked that word!)

Colic is a term that describes a set of symptoms in an infant with no apparent cause.

colicbaby.jpgCharacteristics of colic:

  • episodes of uncontrollable, extended, shrieking crying often after a feeding
  • episodes occur at a predictable time of day, usually late afternoon or evening (“the witching hour”)
  • physical changes during the episodes such as a distended belly, clenched fists, curled up legs or arched back
  • passing of gas after an episode
  • difficulty falling and/or staying asleep

Hmmm… what could it be? Nothing, nothing, nothing comes to mind… oh, wait, could it be something the baby is eating?? No, that’s silly. It’s probably just NOTHING. You just need to jiggle the baby for a few more hours and he’ll be fine.

Why doesn’t every new mother get some forewarning: if your baby has excessive or uncomfortable gas, or reflux, or excessive spitting up, has congestion, or is cranky or crying all the time or not sleeping well, you may think about the possibility that something in your diet is affecting your baby.

I don’t expect the pediatrician to have the time or the ability to work with the mother on identifying the problem foods and changing her diet, but rather than automatically switching from breastmilk to formula (which often doesn’t solve the problem), or telling the mother that it’ll all get better eventually, how about at least giving a heads-up, and then handing out a list of resources, either for local dietitians, breastfeeding experts, or even websites that offer help in this area.

Being a mother for the first time is hard enough as it is, and then you are left to think that you and your baby being completely miserable is normal, expected and incurable! Don’t believe it!

Thanks, Beth, for the inspiration for this post!

Related reading:
Gluten Free Babies & Kids
Four Hidden Medical Causes of Colic by Dr. Sears

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  1. Having lived with food allergies my whole life and being diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 1994 I am very concerned when any one says or shows that they are have digestive problems. I know that there are a lot of disease that cause digestion disorders but I always suggest two different things that they should look for.

    We were baby sitting a little boy who would cry all the time. The mother said he had colic and that there was nothing to do about it. I looked at the label on his formula and saw that it was milk based. I suggested to the mother that he was lactose intolerant. She did not believe me until he started breaking out in rashes and she took him to a doctor and he diagnosed him with lactose intolerance just like I had told her a couple of months before. He stopped crying all the time. Then came time for him to start eating real food. He started having problems again and I suggested he had a sensitivity to wheat and or gluten. Once again she ignored me. She moved away form the area and I found out about a year later he was diagnosed with a wheat allergy. It was a shame that this mother let her baby suffer because she did not want to believe that there was anything wrong with him.

  2. Amen. My first baby had colic. And no one had good advice. I eventually figured out food sensitivities once he was a little older and the dairy-induced constipation manifested itself.

    Now, three babies later, we’re gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and artificial-garbage free, and my one week-old baby will never have to endure the pain that my firstborn did while he suffered through my learning curve.

    Keep talking. Some folks refuse to listen… but some do.

  3. My first baby was a “Colic” baby. I did take advice from other mums, and I did cut a lot of things from my diet. Remember the name Colic discribes wind/pain in the belly. It does not say how that pain got there. But in the defence of the mums that don’t lisson. As new mums everybody wants to give advice, good and bad. You are unsertain which one is the right advice. And when you have a contently distrest child this makes things harder to know which advice to take. And some times, it isn’t what you say, it the the way you say it. So stop blowing your horn with your “I told you so” attaued. And be more understanding and caring. i do beleive Colic/Celiac could be one in the same or even closely related, a more open mindness needs to given to understand this. Thank you

  4. My little one had horrible “colic”. Screamed 9hrs a day straight though if you don’t count passing out for 15 min only to wake screaming again. The Dr finally said “maybe its just ‘colic'” So I kept looking for answers and started a total elimination diet. She reacts to dairy, fish, and peanuts in my diet (no one ever told me to avoid peanuts while pregnant or breastfeeding) and since I have celiac and she may as well we don’t eat gluten either. Turns out colic actually means “pain in the colon” not “there is no reason”. Its really sad that Dr’s don’t make an effort to find out what the problem really is. And instead of saying “I dont know” they call it colic like its a behavioral problem.

  5. Oh I wanted to add that I do however believe in temperamentally fussy, as a high need personality not related to colic. Because even after the severe colic ended when I discovered her allergies and my different child emerged, my daughter is still intense. Always. Nothing like her colic that had me pulling my hair out because there was nothing I could do. However I could understand where someone could confuse a baby with less severe colic and a particularly high need personality.

  6. Alison, I couldn’t agree more! I wish that I would have known this with my first a little over 6 years ago, but it saved me a lot of stress with my second and third children. With my second I eliminated dairy and soy out of my diet and he was a completely changed baby! With my third it is still a work in progress…. gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and nuts have been out of my diet until just recently. I know that she struggles with something still (she is 15 months old now), but I just can’t get it figured out 🙁

  7. Rebecca,
    It can be hard to figure out, but it sounds like you are determined! Do you keep a food diary?

  8. I also wish I knew more about food when I was pregnant and nursing and raising my boys. My older son screamed 17 hours a day for months. I wised up by son #2 and eliminated dairy, but I was still living on what I know now is a nutrient-poor diet. #2 didn’t have colic, but he does have multiple food allergies. Both my sons have food allergies and lived through asthma and eczema and general food-induced misery.

    So I just want to add to the above discussion — it’s not just about eliminating foods. It’s also about adding in all the phytochemicals and micronutrients our bodies are starving for when we live on pasta, chicken, french fries and dry cereal. I read Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live a few years ago and changed our diets completely. We now eat a plant-based whole-foods diet. I highly recommend his book “Disease-Proof Your Child.” It was hard to make the switch, but now I can’t believe I ever ate the way I did before.

  9. Oh my I remember those days. I did not learn until child number 3. My first 2 had colic so bad and the doctor would tell me they will grow out of it. Both girls had reflux up until about 3 years of age. I remember when my son was a baby and he started having projectile vomiting and I knew I could not go through this again. I called the doc and between us we decided I would not eat chocolate or drink milk. Surprise, surprise he stopped vomiting and I never dealt colic with him. It made having a baby so much fun. Not that my others were not but walking the floors night after night and having my living room carpet ruined with reflux of milk, food, juice you name it. I always advise new moms that breast feeding can be successful if you eat the right foods and cut out the ones that are most common in causing colic.

  10. i had colic as a baby and found I was coeliac in my 40s. One daughter had colic and is coeliac, the other daughter, breast fed like her sister, had no colic and is not coeliac.
    Just a coincidence? I doubt it.

  11. What happens is that there is hidden celiac disease, which does not manifest any pain, the patient usually develops long term auto immune diseases, and also cancer, this was the case of my father who died of cancer and was a celiac Hidden, I have symptoms, my sister does not have, and both of us are celiac.

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