Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Colic Breast Feeding

Learning about breast feeding may help you reduce the symptoms of infantile colic in a breastfed baby.

It is normal for your baby to nurse 7-12 times in a 24-hour day. Breast milk is easy for the baby to digest, so your baby will be hungry often. Most babies nurse every 1.5 to 3 hours during the first few weeks. Some babies like to eat every 1-2 hours for a few feedings and then take a nap for 4-5 hours. Other babies eat on a scheduled 3 to 4 hours around the clock. You should wake your baby at least every 3 hours during the day and let the baby sleep 5-6 hours at night. As the baby gets older, he or she will nurse less often and sleep longer at night.

For more information:

  • Breast feeding introduction
  • Breast feeding guidelines
  • Signs of good breast feeding
  • Special considerations when breast feeding

Most babies will nurse for 15-20 minutes on each breast. Some babies can have a successful feed in only 5-10 minutes on each breast, while others make nurse for more than 20 minutes.

Some babies always nurse both breasts, while others prefer only one breast per feeding. It is important for you to measure the quality of your baby's feed rather than the clock.

You will recognize a normal nursing pattern after you gain some experience with breast-feeding. When your baby first latches on to the breast you may notice short, urgent, choppy sucks. This will be followed by a relaxed, jaw gliding movement interrupted by brief rest periods. When your baby begins to rest more than nurse, provide stimulation to continue nursing. If your baby does not resume nursing with the jaw-gliding sucking, release the suction and remove the baby for burping. Place your finger in the corner of the mouth and between the gums to release suction. When your baby gulps during nursing, air is taken in. This gives your baby a full feeling, before nursing is completed. Remove your baby from the breast to burp. After burping, your baby should be ready to resume nursing.

Signs of good breast feeding:
  • Baby is swallowing
  • Baby is gaining weight
  • Breast softening
  • Milk on baby's tongue
  • Wet diapers

Signs of adequate nutrition:
  • 3 or more good-sized yellow colored, seedy bowel movements per day
  • 6 or more wet diapers per day
  • Breasts feel full before feeding and soft after feeding
  • Child is satisfied after nursing

How to increase milk production:
  • Get adequate fluids: drink at least 1 quart (or liter) of milk and 1 quart (or liter) of water per day
  • Get adequate rest: take extra naps.
  • Increase the frequency of nursing and minimize the use of a pacifier
  • Pump the breasts for 10 minutes after each feeding
  • Reduce stress

Continue to Colic Warning Signs

Last Updated: Dec 16, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Colic References
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  2. Keefe MR, Lobo ML, Froese-Fretz A, Kotzer AM, Barbosa GA, Dudley WN. Effectiveness of an intervention for colic. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2006 Mar;45(2):123-33. [16528432]
  3. Leung AK, Lemay JF. Infantile colic: a review. J R Soc Health. 2004 Jul;124(4):162-6. [15301313]
  4. Lucassen PL, Assendelft WJ, Gubbels JW, van Eijk JT, van Geldrop WJ, Neven AK. Effectiveness of treatments for infantile colic: systematic review. BMJ. 1998 May 23;316(7144):1563-9. [9596593]
  5. Lucassen PL, Assendelft WJ, van Eijk JT, Gubbels JW, Douwes AC, van Geldrop WJ. Systematic review of the occurrence of infantile colic in the community. Arch Dis Child. 2001 May;84(5):398-403. [11316682]
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