Probiotics for Colic in Breastfed Infants By Gia Diakakis

After a few months of dealing with a colicky baby, I am so excited to be back from my second maternity leave! My first maternity leave was nowhere near long enough. I swear, I feel this time around, it was too long.

My first baby was a breeze. Great sleeper, great eater, and most importantly, I could put him down in his bassinet, or boppy newborn lounger and get my “stuff” done. I was able to shower, work out, cook, clean, organize my house and have a social life. This time around could not be any more different. I cannot put my baby down without hearing an instant shriek. She is in my arms from the moment she wakes up, to the moment she goes to sleep for the night.

Around the time she turned two months old, I began frantically searching the Internet for ways to soothe her so I would be able to put her down without crying. Luckily, we at Feed To Succeed, have an amazing group of dietitians that have turned into a wonderful group of friends. So while I was searching these soothing techniques, I received a group text about a study that was released showing that probiotics supplementation in breastfed infants help with colicky behaviors. I was so excited about this, that I drove to the office at 10PM on New Year’s Eve to pick up probiotic samples.

It has been six weeks of routinely using probiotic samples, and it has been great! It’s as if someone reprogramed my baby to reduce fussiness and increase happiness. Having such a great experience made me curious, so I began reading the research that the other dietitians and Feed To Succeed told me about. Was this just a coincidence?

After reading through a research article and a meta analysis of probiotic supplementation in colicky infants, it became clear this was not just a coincidence or placebo effect. The meta analysis looked at studies out of Italy, Poland, Australia and Canada. They looked at average minutes of crying and/or fussiness per day with each infant. In their analysis, they concluded that Probiotics are “…effective and can be recommended for breastfed infants with colic.” This conclusion was drawn after combing through four individual studies (in the countries outlined above) and seeing the average minutes of crying and/or fussiness significantly decreasing with probiotic supplementation.

I then read through a journal article that studied probiotic supplementation in colicky infants in the U.S. This study looked at the number of stools and consistency of stools per day. They concluded that probiotic supplementation lead to fewer and better-formed stools in breastfed infants.

There is still a lot unknown about colicky infants, but probiotic supplementation can help. There are so many different probiotic supplementations out there, and it can be very confusing. The two specific strains that were included in these studies are Lctobacillus reutri 1, and Bifidobacterium longum infantitis 2. Other strains may also help, but these are the two strains backed by research.

From one tired “powered by coffee” mama to another, it might be time to give probiotics a shot! Your baby may just need for healthy bacteria in their gastrointestinal tract and they might just be the thing your looking for.

This article is based on the following studies: 

1. Sung, Valerie, et al. “Lactobacillus reuteri to treat infant colic: a meta-analysis.” Pediatrics (2017): e20171811.

2. Smilowitz, Jennifer T., et al. “Safety and tolerability of Bifidobacterium longum subspecies infantis EVC001 supplementation in healthy term breastfed infants: a phase I clinical trial.” BMC pediatrics 17.1 (2017): 133.