Foods To Eat While Breastfeeding To Avoid Colic (What Helps & What Worsens It)

Colic is extreme fussiness in infants, demonstrated by plaintive and intense cries. Babies with colic cry for no apparent reason, predictably during bedtime, and lasting several hours. They would lapse into cries as if in pain, with their skin flushed and body tensed. Its causes are unknown but are assumed to be related to digestive issues or food intolerances. If you are a breastfeeding mom, dietary changes may help in managing a colicky baby. 

As a nursing mom, you need to load up on a healthy plate, whether your baby has colic or not. The food that you take leaches to the breastmilk.

Sometimes, it alters the taste of the breast milk or leaks an allergen into it. So, make a healthy diet a part of your exciting journey into parenting and breastfeeding. 

Foods to avoid when breastfeeding

Colic is frustrating and stressful for mothers and the entire family.

It usually starts when a baby is a few weeks old and peaks at 6 weeks. The episode will decline by three to four months and often resolves in six months. 

Consolation and some tender loving care do not offer relief for the baby’s distress. To alleviate the stress, prevention of the possible causes, such as an elimination diet, may work.

Experts are also unsure how a mom’s diet affects a baby with colic. According to the CDC, women generally do not need to limit or avoid a particular food.

But if your baby has a food sensitivity, what you eat may contribute to fussiness. 

1. Dairy products

Products that are produced from animal milk are a good source of nutrition. However, dairy is also a common food allergen in infants and young children.

Dairy or milk allergy is an immune reaction to the protein in milk.

Cow’s milk and its product are the most common dairy allergy. However, other animal milk, such as goats, sheep, or buffalo, can also trigger a reaction. 

When a nursing mother consumes dairy products, a small amount is transferred into breast milk. It could stay in the system for a couple of weeks or more in the baby’s body. 

2. Caffeine 

Caffeine is one of the substances that is quickly passed into breast milk.

About 1% of caffeine gets transferred into the milk and peaks an hour after consumption. It stays in the system for up to 7 hours. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks, soft drinks and some flu medicines. 

Mom’s caffeine intake affects the baby’s sleep, making them extra fussy, jittery, and restless. While it is advised to avoid caffeine, the NHS considers restricting caffeine intake to 200 mg daily. 

3. Alcohol

Alcohol taken within limits does not affect the breast milk or harm the baby. The limit is 14 units spread out for the week and not taken in one sitting.

A young mom who is breastfeeding at the moment is saying no to alcohol

As a guide, there are roughly 2 units of alcohol in a glass of wine and 2-3 units in a pint of beer and lager.

Alcohol consumption above what is moderately allowed can affect the child’s sleep pattern. It will also hamper his growth and development in the long run. 

4. Spicy and gas-producing foods

Pungent and spicy foods may impart a distinct taste that alters the taste of breast milk that the babies are used to.

While there is no evidence that spicy food directly affects babies, most of them may refuse to feed. Some others get diarrhea that could signal mom to cut on fiery foods for a while. 

Cruciferous vegetables and other gas-producing food can also cause tummy discomfort to little ones.

These foods can make even an adult extra gassy. When leached into the breast milk, some babies can tolerate them while others do not. Gassy food makes excessively gassy and colicky babies.

Such foods are:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Beans and lentils
  • Garlic
  • Arugula
  • Bok choy
  • Green peppers
  • Apricots
  • Rhubarb
  • Prunes
  • Melons
  • Peaches

5. Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners like sorbitol, saccharin, aspartame and sucralose can impact the baby’s health while lactating.

These sweeteners are often used to increase the palatability of food without the added carbohydrate or energy. They are also found in low-calorie diet beverages. 

Artificial sweeteners in breast milk can cause gastrointestinal upset in babies. It does not only contribute to colic but also affects the baby’s weight and overall health. 

Foods to include when breastfeeding to avoid colic

There is no special diet for breastfeeding women. The goal is to take as many healthy foods as possible and limit what you think affects your baby.

Mom is holding her newborn baby who just woke up from a nap and is hungry

A varied and balanced diet is enough to provide the necessary vitamins and minerals for both infant and maternal health. 

A healthy diet includes a variety of fruit and vegetables, fiber, protein, starchy foods, and dairy if the child tolerates it. 

Healthy foods also include foods that may worsen colic. So, use your best judgment if you think it causes his fussy and sleepless nights.

1. Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables help a breastfeeding mom meet the increased nutritional requirements for herself and her nursing baby.

Most of them are galactagogue or food that promotes milk production. Take a variety of veggies and fruits like leafy greens and incorporate them into your every meal.

You can prepare it differently to make it palatable or turn it into smoothies to increase your intake. 

2. Whole grains

For energy and digestion, add whole grains to your diet. Whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal support the enzymes responsible for milk production.

It also gives you the energy to fuel your mind and body as you go about your breastfeeding and motherhood journey.

The dietary fiber from these food sources improves digestion to prevent constipation for you and your nursing one. 

3. Lean proteins

Lean protein is vital in breastfeeding moms as it provides optimal nutrition for the baby’s growing tissues.

It sustains both the mom’s and baby’s body and helps in the new growth of organs, muscles and brain development.

You can source lean protein from animal products like meat, poultry, fish, egg and dairy. It is also available in plant products such as soy, nuts, lentils, beans and seeds. 

4. Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients in brain development and cardiovascular health. In addition, these fatty acids are necessary in proper cell functioning to support body functions.

A plate of salmon is shown, a healthy food item for breastfeeding moms

In lactating moms, these are responsible for the baby’s optimal cognitive development. The body does not produce essential fatty acids like ALA (alpha-lipoic); they are taken only from food and beverages. 

Fishes are the best possible source of omega-3 fatty acids, but they are hounded by mercury contamination issues. So, the FDA advises women to steer clear of fish that contain high mercury.

The safe options are salmon, trout and herring, or vegetarian sources like seaweed, chia seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts. 


Can colic cause complications?

No, it does not cause any short-term or long-term problems in babies.

Is the vegetarian and vegan diet healthy for breastfeeding moms?

Vegan and vegetarian diets lack vitamin B12, which can risk its deficiency in infants. Iron and other nutrients are also low.

Lactating moms need supplementation of the deficient nutrients as provided by their healthcare provider.

Can I take a protein shake while breastfeeding?

Protein powders are a convenient way of adding protein to your diet. However, they are loaded with artificial ingredients and are a possible allergen source.

Yes, you can take protein shakes while breastfeeding but with precaution and upon consultation with your doctor.

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Ann Marie is a licensed nurse in the Philippines. She experienced handling and assisting deliveries of newborns into the world. She also trained in labor rooms and pediatric wards while in nursing school - helping soon-to-be mothers and little kids in the process. Though not a mother by nature but a mother by heart, Ann Marie loves to take care of her younger cousins as well as nephews and nieces during her free time.

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