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Baby's fussiness and Mom's diet...?

Posted by on Apr. 25, 2012 at 2:54 PM
  • 7 Replies
Baby's usual 8-10 pm bout of fussiness seems to be expanding to include most of the day. I'm thinking of cutting everything out of my diet that may be irritating her tummy through my milk. That means no more caffine, chocolate, grains, dairy, beans, broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower. Geez, what, exactly, would that leave me that I CAN eat? Maybe I'll just cut out one or two things at a time and see what makes a difference.
by on Apr. 25, 2012 at 2:54 PM
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maggiemom2000
by on Apr. 25, 2012 at 2:58 PM
1 mom liked this

How old is baby? There are some other things to rule out before eliminating things from your diet. Here's some info to start with:

My baby is gassy. Is this caused by something in my diet?

JULY 26, 2011. Posted in: BABY'S HEALTH,PARENTING FAQ

By Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC

Does a mom need to watch everything she eats to avoid having a gassy baby?

The idea that certain foods in any mom’s diet will cause gas in her baby is incredibly persistent but is not founded in research. If certain foods in moms’ diets were an overall problem for most babies, we would expect that cultures that emphasize those foods would have more gassy and fussy babies, but this does not occur at all.

This is not to say that certain foods would not bother a particular baby – this does happen occasionally (and it’s more likely with very young babies). However, there is no list of foods that every mom should avoid while breastfeeding. In fact, most babies are fine with any food that mom eats, so there is no reason to avoid a food unless you notice an obvious reaction in your baby every time you eat a particular food.

Most babies are gassy from time to time, some more than others. Gassiness is often worse at night. This is due, on the most part, to baby’s immature digestive system and has nothing to do with what mom does or eats. Because so many people promote the idea that food in mom’s diet causes gas, many a breastfeeding mom will immediately assume it is due to something she has eaten if her baby is gassy.

The list of foods that “might cause gas” is practically endless, and moms who try to avoid all these foods will (needlessly) have a *very* limited diet. Formula-feeding moms blame it on a chill, a draft, the formula type, the formula being too hot or cold, baby being overdressed, underdressed, jostled too much, etc. Formula-feeding moms never think it was what the cow ate the day she was milked, months ago!

Some causes of gas in babies

  • Many young babies have a certain amount of gas and seem to strain as it is passed or as a bowel movement occurs simply because of the immaturity of their digestive system. This doesn’t always indicate a problem. Most babies’ bodies manage gas more easily with growth, maturity, and greater activity. As long as your baby is not overly bothered by the gas or has no other symptoms of food sensitivity or other problems, then “tincture of time” is likely the best solution.
  • Too much milk too fast, so that baby gulps and chokes and takes in too much air along with the milk. See forceful let-down.
  • Anything that causes baby to take in too much air may result in a gassy baby (what goes in must come out!):
    • Crying – Babies swallow air when they are crying, so crying is more likely to be the causeof gas, rather than the result of gas. Respond to baby’s feeding cues promptly.
    • Bottlefeeding – Babies usually swallow more air when drinking from a bottle. When using bottles, use the slowest-flow nipples so baby doesn’t get overwhelmed with the milk flow. To reduce air swallowing, keep baby at about a 45 degree angle (rather than lying down), make sure baby has a good seal on the base of the nipple, and keep the bottle tilted so the neck & nipple are filled with milk. There are also varieties of bottles that aim to reduce air swallowing. Don’t let baby suck on an empty bottle. Burp baby more often if he seems to be swallowing too much air.
  • Overabundant milk supply. See Too Much Milk?
  • Thrush can cause gassiness in babies.
  • Babies who skip several days between stools tend to be gassier. Older breastfed babies (after the first 6-8 weeks) can go several days without a stool. Ten days or more is not uncommon! The long periods between stools in a baby who is obviously thriving is not a cause for concern if the baby’s abdomen remains soft, baby is content and alert, and the stool is soft and profuse if several days have gone by.
  • Sensitivity to something in mother’s diet, including any vitamin/iron supplements, etc. SeeDairy and other Food Sensitivities in Breastfed Babies. If this is the reason, you will most likely notice other symptoms, such as excessive spitting up or vomiting, colic, diarrhea, rash, persistent congestion or runny nose.
  • Anything that baby is eating/drinking other than mother’s milk, including vitamins, formula, teas, medications or herbs, solidsjuice. Any substance (other than breastmilk) has a much greater potential to increase gassiness rather than reduce it.
  • Formula feeding tends to cause more gas and digestive upset for most babies because it is not specific to the human baby. Formula-fed babies overall tend to spit up more, be constipated more, have more gas, be more colicky, have more intestinal illnesses, etc. Remember, too, that supplementation most always undermines your milk supply and may result in premature weaning.

Frequently Asked Questions about breastfeeding and gassy babies

Breastmilk is made from what passes into mom’s blood, not what is in her stomach or digestive track. Below are a few common questions that moms have about breastfeeding and gassy babies.

Can drinking carbonated sodas cause gas in baby? No. For something to pass into your milk, it must first pass into your bloodstream. It’s the carbonation in sodas, etc. that can cause gas in mom. The bubbles in a carbonated drink cannot pass into your milk and affect baby. If this could happen, you’d have carbonated blood and carbonated milk!

If mom is gassy, can that make baby gassy? No. Gas in mom’s body cannot pass into breastmilk.

See also Can a nursing mother eat this food? which includes a discussion of How will eating “gassy foods” affect baby?

Popular treatments for gas in babies

Time

For most babies, the number one most effective treatment for gas is TIME. Babies are born with an immature digestive system, and it needs time to mature. Until this happens, baby is likely to be gassy no matter what you do. Some babies “wake up” around 3-4 weeks to all the new GI sensations they are feeling and get really unhappy about it. If you cannot find an apparent causefor your baby’s gassiness, he probably just needs a little more time to mature.

Gripe water, fennel tea or other herbal remedies

Herbal remedies have been used for gassy babies for a countless number of years. I prefer to avoid using herbal remedies for gas in young babies. Here are my reasons:

  • In a healthy baby, anything other than breastmilk is more likely to cause problems rather than solve them.
  • Giving baby substances other than breastmilk can alter the intestinal flora and reduce the protective qualities of exclusive breastfeeding, thus making baby more susceptable to illness and allergies. See Why Delay Solids? for more on this.
  • Many of these products contain mixtures of herbs or other substances, thus putting baby more at risk for adverse reactions. Some contain alcohol, so read labels very carefully.
  • Most of these products have not been tested in infants for safety or effectiveness.
  • It is more effective to look at treating the causes, rather than simply trying to treat the symptoms.

Note: Star anise has been associated with illness ranging from serious neurological effects, such as seizures, to vomiting, jitteriness and rapid eye movement.

Mint tea is sometimes used for gas and gas pains. Peppermint oil and tea can be dangerous if given directly to babies. Large amounts of peppermint or spearmint are known to decrease milk supply, and mint tea is traditionally used for decreasing milk supply – breastfeeding mothers should avoid drinking mint tea regularly or in large amounts.

Simethicone drops (Mylicon, Ovol)

This medication is considered quite safe, as it is not absorbed by the body. It breaks down bubbles of gas trapped in the stomach and the intestines. Whether this treatment is effective is a different story, however. In clinical trials, simethicone drops have been shown to be effective in reducing the total amount of gas passed. However, they have not been shown to be more effective than a placebo when the study focused on baby’s total crying time and the severity of colic-like episodes.

So, what does work? My baby is unhappy and I am too! We don’t want to just wait it out.

Additional Information

sreichelt26
by on Apr. 25, 2012 at 3:02 PM
1 mom liked this

^^I agree. Most of what you listed does not actually cause gas - that's an old wives tale.

sometimes babies are fussy. doesn't mean there ISN'T an intolerance, just that sometimes we as moms make a bigger deal out of it than it is.

Not sure how you feel about it, but I always start with a chiro adjustment. Something could be hurting or out of alignment.

MommyIsMyName90
by on Apr. 25, 2012 at 3:08 PM
I have no advice as I just posted asking about something similar. Baby was fussy at night and now it's become an "everytime he is awake" ordeal. He's not fussing just to fuss either--he's definitely in pain. ((hugs)) I'm right there with you :(
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Glowing4Caleb
by on Apr. 25, 2012 at 3:56 PM

If you do decide to cut something out of your diet, I would do one at a time so you can pinpoint what was making the baby fussy. For instance, my 4 year old has a severe dairy allergy. My now 12 week old became VERY fussy similar to what you mentioned. I decided to cut dairy out of my diet (PS, start with dairy as it is a number 1 trigger for sensitivities) and about 4 days later he was a brand new baby. I still dont drink/eat dairy or know if that was even the cause of his fussiness, but with the chances of him having a dairy allergy higher, i wanted to be proactive. When he gets a bit older, we will get him tested.

Glowing4Caleb
by on Apr. 25, 2012 at 3:56 PM

Oh, and also note that it will take 2-3 weeks for dairy (or other foods, I assume) to get out of your babies system.

loisl25
by on Apr. 26, 2012 at 12:12 PM

 Thank you so much. It looks like you put a lot of work into that reply, and it was very helpful! :)

Quoting maggiemom2000:

How old is baby? There are some other things to rule out before eliminating things from your diet. Here's some info to start with:

My baby is gassy. Is this caused by something in my diet?

JULY 26, 2011. Posted in: BABY'S HEALTH,PARENTING FAQ

By Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC

Does a mom need to watch everything she eats to avoid having a gassy baby?

The idea that certain foods in any mom’s diet will cause gas in her baby is incredibly persistent but is not founded in research. If certain foods in moms’ diets were an overall problem for most babies, we would expect that cultures that emphasize those foods would have more gassy and fussy babies, but this does not occur at all.

This is not to say that certain foods would not bother a particular baby – this does happen occasionally (and it’s more likely with very young babies). However, there is no list of foods that every mom should avoid while breastfeeding. In fact, most babies are fine with any food that mom eats, so there is no reason to avoid a food unless you notice an obvious reaction in your baby every time you eat a particular food.

Most babies are gassy from time to time, some more than others. Gassiness is often worse at night. This is due, on the most part, to baby’s immature digestive system and has nothing to do with what mom does or eats. Because so many people promote the idea that food in mom’s diet causes gas, many a breastfeeding mom will immediately assume it is due to something she has eaten if her baby is gassy.

The list of foods that “might cause gas” is practically endless, and moms who try to avoid all these foods will (needlessly) have a *very* limited diet. Formula-feeding moms blame it on a chill, a draft, the formula type, the formula being too hot or cold, baby being overdressed, underdressed, jostled too much, etc. Formula-feeding moms never think it was what the cow ate the day she was milked, months ago!

Some causes of gas in babies

  • Many young babies have a certain amount of gas and seem to strain as it is passed or as a bowel movement occurs simply because of the immaturity of their digestive system. This doesn’t always indicate a problem. Most babies’ bodies manage gas more easily with growth, maturity, and greater activity. As long as your baby is not overly bothered by the gas or has no other symptoms of food sensitivity or other problems, then “tincture of time” is likely the best solution.
  • Too much milk too fast, so that baby gulps and chokes and takes in too much air along with the milk. See forceful let-down.
  • Anything that causes baby to take in too much air may result in a gassy baby (what goes in must come out!):
    • Crying – Babies swallow air when they are crying, so crying is more likely to be the causeof gas, rather than the result of gas. Respond to baby’s feeding cues promptly.
    • Bottlefeeding – Babies usually swallow more air when drinking from a bottle. When using bottles, use the slowest-flow nipples so baby doesn’t get overwhelmed with the milk flow. To reduce air swallowing, keep baby at about a 45 degree angle (rather than lying down), make sure baby has a good seal on the base of the nipple, and keep the bottle tilted so the neck & nipple are filled with milk. There are also varieties of bottles that aim to reduce air swallowing. Don’t let baby suck on an empty bottle. Burp baby more often if he seems to be swallowing too much air.
  • Overabundant milk supply. See Too Much Milk?
  • Thrush can cause gassiness in babies.
  • Babies who skip several days between stools tend to be gassier. Older breastfed babies (after the first 6-8 weeks) can go several days without a stool. Ten days or more is not uncommon! The long periods between stools in a baby who is obviously thriving is not a cause for concern if the baby’s abdomen remains soft, baby is content and alert, and the stool is soft and profuse if several days have gone by.
  • Sensitivity to something in mother’s diet, including any vitamin/iron supplements, etc. SeeDairy and other Food Sensitivities in Breastfed Babies. If this is the reason, you will most likely notice other symptoms, such as excessive spitting up or vomiting, colic, diarrhea, rash, persistent congestion or runny nose.
  • Anything that baby is eating/drinking other than mother’s milk, including vitamins, formula, teas, medications or herbs, solidsjuice. Any substance (other than breastmilk) has a much greater potential to increase gassiness rather than reduce it.
  • Formula feeding tends to cause more gas and digestive upset for most babies because it is not specific to the human baby. Formula-fed babies overall tend to spit up more, be constipated more, have more gas, be more colicky, have more intestinal illnesses, etc. Remember, too, that supplementation most always undermines your milk supply and may result in premature weaning.

Frequently Asked Questions about breastfeeding and gassy babies

Breastmilk is made from what passes into mom’s blood, not what is in her stomach or digestive track. Below are a few common questions that moms have about breastfeeding and gassy babies.

Can drinking carbonated sodas cause gas in baby? No. For something to pass into your milk, it must first pass into your bloodstream. It’s the carbonation in sodas, etc. that can cause gas in mom. The bubbles in a carbonated drink cannot pass into your milk and affect baby. If this could happen, you’d have carbonated blood and carbonated milk!

If mom is gassy, can that make baby gassy? No. Gas in mom’s body cannot pass into breastmilk.

See also Can a nursing mother eat this food? which includes a discussion of How will eating “gassy foods” affect baby?

Popular treatments for gas in babies

Time

For most babies, the number one most effective treatment for gas is TIME. Babies are born with an immature digestive system, and it needs time to mature. Until this happens, baby is likely to be gassy no matter what you do. Some babies “wake up” around 3-4 weeks to all the new GI sensations they are feeling and get really unhappy about it. If you cannot find an apparent causefor your baby’s gassiness, he probably just needs a little more time to mature.

Gripe water, fennel tea or other herbal remedies

Herbal remedies have been used for gassy babies for a countless number of years. I prefer to avoid using herbal remedies for gas in young babies. Here are my reasons:

  • In a healthy baby, anything other than breastmilk is more likely to cause problems rather than solve them.
  • Giving baby substances other than breastmilk can alter the intestinal flora and reduce the protective qualities of exclusive breastfeeding, thus making baby more susceptable to illness and allergies. See Why Delay Solids? for more on this.
  • Many of these products contain mixtures of herbs or other substances, thus putting baby more at risk for adverse reactions. Some contain alcohol, so read labels very carefully.
  • Most of these products have not been tested in infants for safety or effectiveness.
  • It is more effective to look at treating the causes, rather than simply trying to treat the symptoms.

Note: Star anise has been associated with illness ranging from serious neurological effects, such as seizures, to vomiting, jitteriness and rapid eye movement.

Mint tea is sometimes used for gas and gas pains. Peppermint oil and tea can be dangerous if given directly to babies. Large amounts of peppermint or spearmint are known to decrease milk supply, and mint tea is traditionally used for decreasing milk supply – breastfeeding mothers should avoid drinking mint tea regularly or in large amounts.

Simethicone drops (Mylicon, Ovol)

This medication is considered quite safe, as it is not absorbed by the body. It breaks down bubbles of gas trapped in the stomach and the intestines. Whether this treatment is effective is a different story, however. In clinical trials, simethicone drops have been shown to be effective in reducing the total amount of gas passed. However, they have not been shown to be more effective than a placebo when the study focused on baby’s total crying time and the severity of colic-like episodes.

So, what does work? My baby is unhappy and I am too! We don’t want to just wait it out.

Additional Information


eema.gray
by on Apr. 26, 2012 at 12:18 PM

Before eliminating foods, I would investigate some quick fixes.  I would get baby evaluated for lip and tongue ties, which can make nursing more difficult for baby and therefore make baby frustrated and uncomfortable.  I would take baby to a chiropractor who specializes in working with infants; birth is traumatic for moms and babies under even the best of circumstances and it's not uncommon for babies to have what amount to pinched nerves in their necks and shoulders that make turning their heads in various directions uncomfortable.  I would also look at the possibility of overactive let down making nursing an ordeal, as well as the possibility of oversupply.

Once these physical issues have been ruled out as the source of the discomfort, I would look at reflux and food sensitivities.

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