Colic & The Breastfed Baby; Myths Busted

It is often said that a breastfed baby does not suffer with colic. However, I want to bust that myth because all babies, regardless as to how they are fed, can suffer with colic. Firstly, let’s understand what colic really is. 


The Definition of Colic

The definition of colic is an ‘excessively crying baby who is otherwise healthy’. It does not tell you much, other than your baby is crying. There is the rule of 3 which states that a colicky baby cries for; 

  • 3 hours per day
  • 3 days a week
  • 3 weeks or more

Now this definition of colic in my opinion is about as useful as a chocolate teapot. It doesn’t explain why a baby is crying and that is what parents really need to know. 



The Symptoms 

Thankfully, there are some other symptoms to look out for; 

  • Excessively crying
  • Red Face
  • Knees to chest
  • Arching back 
  • Clenched fists
What Can Cause Colic?

For the breastfeeding baby there can be a few causes which we will look at in turn; 

1.Intake of Air

A poor latch can contribute to extra air being drunk whilst baby is feeding on the breast. There is an excellent acronym ‘CHINS’ to remember whilst latching your baby.

 Close – keep baby close to your body (no gaps)

Head – keep baby’s head free to tilt back (support baby’s neck instead)

In-line – baby’s head and body should be in a line (no twisting to get to the breast)

Nipple to nose – baby’s nose should be in align with the nipple

Sustainable – should be able to sustain your position and be comfortable


It is also a myth to say that breastfed babies don’t require burping. They do indeed need to burp as they are likely to intake some air throughout a feed and that air will sit in the stomach. If the air doesn’t come up then air bubbles can form and cause baby to be uncomfortable. 

It takes a few minutes for a baby to burp and I really favour the ‘Wonky Winding’ technique. This is where baby’s bottom is positioned in the middle of the parent’s chest and baby’s chin rests on the right shoulder. This places the baby’s stomach in the right position so that the air bubbles are moved down towards to oesophagus. It also keeps the oesophagus straight too so that wind can travel back out easily. For an example on how to create the wonky winding technique you can watch here; 


2.Lactose Overload

The first part of the breastmilk is very high in lactose sugars and if you have an oversupply which can occur in the first few weeks as your supply regulates then lactose overload can occur. The symptoms of this transient form of lactose intolerance include; 

  • Frothy stools
  • Green stools
  • Explosive stool
  • Flatulence 
  • Unsettled baby with trapped wind 


The advice from lactation experts is the option to express the first part of this high lactose milk before latching baby on to feed.

Lactose is an integral element of human milk so even going dairy free will not take out the lactose from your milk. The advice is to continue feeding through any temporary lactose intolerance, knowing that it will pass and helping your baby manage his symptoms by using the techniques that are mentioned in the previous chapter to help eliminate the trapped gas. 

If your baby is struggling with colic then it is important to understand the root cause of your baby’s distress. It is then that the appropriate remedies can be sought in order to provide comfort and relief to your baby. 


3.Fourth Trimester

This is the period of adjustment in the first three months of a baby’s life.  Your baby is transitioning from the womb to the world and it can become overwhelming and often leads to fussy behaviour in young babies.   

Whether your baby is breastfed or bottle fed, all babies have to go through this transition period and depending on your baby, it can be very difficult for them. You can help your baby feel calmer by emulating the womb with the 5 S’s

  • Swaddling – helps baby feel more secure 
  • Sushing – creates the white noise that babies enjoy
  • Swaying – emulate the rocking motion in the womb
  • Sucking – whether on a dummy, fingers or mum 
  • Side laying – placing baby in a ‘containment hold’ on their left side helps baby to feel organised 
What Help is Available?

As a Colic Consultant and Baby Massage expert, I have many years of experience of helping colicky babies. I understand the pain that a family suffers as I have been there myself as a mother to a colicky baby. I have gone unheard and I would not like any family to have to go through the misery that we, as a family, endured. The Colic SOS programme is a completely personalised plan which is designed to help families who are battling with colic. By understanding the root cause of a baby’s colic, the right tools can be used to empower parents to help their baby. The programme also looks to nurture the parents too by equipping them with self-care tools so that they are not neglected during this difficult time.       

Blog Credits

This blog written by Becky from Colic SOS

Becky is the founder of Colic SOS. She is a colic expert with many years of experience with working with families with colicky babies. She has a wealth of knowledge about colic, the causes and how to support both babies and their families during this difficult period.

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