Can my breast milk make my baby fussy and gassy?

Q: Could my breast milk be making my baby fussy and gassy?

A: Your baby's fussiness could have something to do with your diet. Eating too much dairy, for example, as well as having too much caffeine or overly spicy foods, could cause your baby to be fussier or gassier than usual after feedings. But before you start a food-eliminating witch hunt, consider that this could also be due to something called hindmilk-foremilk imbalance. When your baby nurses, she first gets foremilk, which has more lactose than the milk that comes afterward, called hindmilk. In addition to containing more fat, hindmilk also contains an enzyme to help the baby digest the lactose from the foremilk. If you switch your baby from one breast to another too quickly, she may not get enough hindmilk to digest the lactose; when she's put on the second breast, she's once again starting off with foremilk. And if she's typical of many newborns, she'll fall asleep before she's nursed long enough on the second breast to get much hindmilk. All that undigested lactose makes babies gassy and fussy. This is especially likely if you watch the clock when you nurse and meticulously switch breasts after 10 minutes, if your baby is slow to gain weight, or if your baby has greenish stools. Instead of switching breasts each feeding, let your baby nurse for an entire session on one breast. Switch to the other breast for the next feeding. That way, you're assuring that she'll nurse long enough to get both foremilk and hindmilk. As your baby gets older and her fussiness subsides, try going back to nursing on both sides. --Kate Kelly

Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.


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