Baby crying and you can’t work out why? It could be what you had for dinner!
That’s right, back away from the broccoli, cut out the cauliflower and leave the apples in the fruit bowl, mamas. New research shows the food mums eat while breastfeeding can actually give – or fix – babies colic.
A trial of breastfeeding mums has found that women who removed “gassy foods” from their diet had calmer babies within 10 days. In fact, in many cases the diet actually halved the amount of time newborns cried or were restless.
Less colic, more sleep
And it’s not just less crying. Monash University researcher and dietician Dr Marina Iacovou says babies of mums who avoided foods like onions, garlic, cabbage and brussels sprouts also slept longer and were more content.
Mums in the study followed a low FODMAP diet, originally developed to help people with irritable bowel syndrome. They avoided high-FODMAP foods (those that can irritate sensitive stomachs) like some dairy products, wheat, legumes, apples, honey as well as gas-causing vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.
“We showed that colic wasn’t related to babies being hungry, or awake for too long or overstimulated,” Dr Iacovou told the Herald Sun. “We don’t understand the mechanism yet, but the results tell us there is something there.”
She says the result suggest that following a low-FODMAP diet can help breastfeeding mums of fussy babies.
“Instead of mums cutting out everything, this shows they can get results while having a good healthy diet that’s not overly restrictive, ” Dr Iacovou says.
“It is very common for breastfeeding mothers to change their diet – on the grounds of old-wives tales and common beliefs, but therapeutic diets for infantile colic lack evidence.
“The findings could help nursing mothers monitor and adjust their diet to help reduce the severity of their infant’s colic, but it’s important they seek the advice of their GP or qualified dietician before undertaking any new diet regime.”
How to cure baby’s colic
Colic is when newborn babies cry for unexplained reasons for more than three hours a day and at least three days a week. It’s a common problem – one in five newborn babies have colic – and one that can drive new mums to despair.
Colic is linked to low rates of breastfeeding, post-natal depression and shaken-baby syndrome. It’s one of the most common presentations of mothers and infants to emergency departments.
Researchers are now trying to work out why the diet works so well for colicky babies. They think the answers to cure baby’s colic might lie in the mums’ breast milk.
“Are we influencing the maternal gut microbiome, and that is translating to their milk to settle their baby’s gut,” Dr Iacovou says.
“Mums are desperate. Women think it’s their milk, or something they’ve eaten, so they stop breastfeeding. If we don’t support new mums, they will stop breastfeeding or be overly restrictive with their diet, which isn’t healthy.”
The study’s findings are published in the Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics journal this month.
Desperate for some other ways to cure colic? Try these seven tried and true newborn colic busters.