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Maintaining the best diet for colic generally requires detecting potential allergens in a mother's breast milk. Colic is a condition in which infants cry excessively for reasons that are not readily apparent. Once a mother eliminates several food items from her diet, she can gradually re-introduce them and keep records of whether her baby's colic diminishes or remains. Raw fruits and vegetables, soy products, cow's milk, and other proteins are all potential allergens. There is some debate, however, regarding whether or not there is a true correlation between colic and breast milk consumption.
Colic is a common condition among infants, in which excessive crying occurs and is difficult to diagnose. If a baby cries for three hours a day for at least three days a week, colic is present. The condition is often the result of intestinal spasms which cause pain and discomfort in the infant's abdomen. This may be traced to presence of allergens in breast milk.
An elimination diet is a very popular diet for colic. The diet allows a mother to discover what type of foods, transmitted through breast milk, may be aggravating the infant's condition. Elimination diets usually take several weeks to perform, and they always involves keeping detailed dietary records.
Initially, in an elimination diet for colic, the mother restricts meat consumption to range-fed meat that is minimally seasoned. The only grains usually consumed are rice or millet. Squash is generally the only vegetable eaten, and pears are usually the only fruit eaten. Instead of drinking milk, the mother will use a rice-based beverage and take calcium supplements.
After keeping on this diet for two weeks, and if colic symptoms diminish, new foods can be gradually introduced. Approximately every four days, a new item can be integrated into the diet. If colic symptoms arise again, the mother can keep record of which foods may be allergenic to the infant. It is generally still recommended that the mother avoids caffeine, cruciferous vegetables, and raw fruits or vegetables, as young infants tend not to be tolerant of these foods whether colic is present or not.
Older babies may, however, be able to tolerate traces of fruits or vegetables in breast milk better than younger infants. An elimination diet for colic among older babies may simply involve protein elimination. Instead of avoiding fruits and vegetables, the mother may slowly eliminate and re-introduce meats, eggs, nuts, legumes, and wheat products.
Sometimes a diet for colic does not involve the elimination method. If a baby is being raised on cow's milk rather than breast milk, the mother might try switching to a soy formula to detect whether lactose intolerance is the issue. When colic persists after switching to soy, other formulas made from various processed proteins may be available as well.
The perceived effectiveness of a diet for colic is somewhat ambiguous in the medical community. Some experiments suggest that colic simply fades with time, as even a large percentage of babies in control groups have been shown to reduce colic symptoms over the course of observation. Non-dietary factors, such as the presence of cigarette smoke, may also factor into the presence of colic.