Breastfeeding Mother's Diet and Colic

NewsGuard 100/100 Score

Colic in infants is characterized by regular fits of violent crying, sometimes coupled with other physical features such as furrowing of the brow, clenching of the fists or pulling up of the legs towards the belly. The baby is usually resistant to being consoled by ordinary means, but may quickly respond to being taken for a ride in a pram or car.

There are no other signs of physical illness, and the baby continues to put on weight normally. Strangely, the baby appears happy and peaceful except when the colicky symptoms start. Nevertheless, it is one of the most common reasons why parents seek professional medical advice during the first three months of their child's life.

Role of the Mother’s Diet

Both breastfed and formula-fed infants suffer equally from colic, which affects anywhere from a third to a fifth of all babies. Moreover, no hard and fast evidence is yet available to implicate any particular factor in the causation of the condition. However, some studies have suggested that modifying the mother’s diet may prevent or mitigate colic in some infants.

Exclusion of Dairy Products Derived from Cow’s Milk and Potential Allergens

Some studies have shown that when the mothers of infants who were being breastfed abstained from milk and other dairy products, the incidence of colic in their babies dropped sharply. This was confirmed by another study, which also demonstrated the reappearance of colic in a majority of such babies, after dairy foods were reintroduced into the mother’s diet. Many of these babies developed colic when their mothers were given whey from cow’s milk. Other studies have focused on the elimination of potential allergens from the mother’s food. These included soy, peanuts, wheat, milk and milk products, tree nuts, eggs, and fish. An absolute reduction of 37% in the risk of colic was observed in these breastfed infants compared to the controls.


When cow’s milk intolerance is suspected to be the cause of a baby’s colic, it may be wise to allow the mother to stop ingesting milk and milk products for a period of one to two weeks. Within this period, a significant reduction in the rate of colic episodes will confirm the advisability of withdrawing dairy products from the mother’s diet for a time. Such breastfeeding mothers should receive adequate support. Breastfeeding should be continued. Calcium and vitamin D supplementation (as appropriate for the state of the woman’s health) should be started immediately, making sure that the exclusion of dairy products is not leading to malnutrition in terms of calories or minerals.

General tips

In more general terms, it is recommended that women eat regularly and frequently, at least three meals a day with occasional healthy snacks, and plenty of water. Caffeine in coffee, tea, soft drinks and especially in energy drinks, may increase the irritability of the infant, and mothers with colicky babies may want to cut down on these.

If a woman who breastfeeds is on artificial sweeteners, she should check with a professional as to how much she can take each day without risk of its passing to the baby. Furthermore, strict diets during the lactation period and drastic weight loss should be avoided.

Some women find that avoiding cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and legumes reduces the incidence of colic in their babies. Since these are sources of essential vitamins, fiber and lean protein, it is important that these mothers substitute them with other appropriate foods.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Feb 26, 2019

Dr. Liji Thomas

Written by

Dr. Liji Thomas

Dr. Liji Thomas is an OB-GYN, who graduated from the Government Medical College, University of Calicut, Kerala, in 2001. Liji practiced as a full-time consultant in obstetrics/gynecology in a private hospital for a few years following her graduation. She has counseled hundreds of patients facing issues from pregnancy-related problems and infertility, and has been in charge of over 2,000 deliveries, striving always to achieve a normal delivery rather than operative.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Thomas, Liji. (2019, February 26). Breastfeeding Mother's Diet and Colic. News-Medical. Retrieved on April 13, 2024 from

  • MLA

    Thomas, Liji. "Breastfeeding Mother's Diet and Colic". News-Medical. 13 April 2024. <>.

  • Chicago

    Thomas, Liji. "Breastfeeding Mother's Diet and Colic". News-Medical. (accessed April 13, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Thomas, Liji. 2019. Breastfeeding Mother's Diet and Colic. News-Medical, viewed 13 April 2024,


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.