common baby stomach troubles
Health

Common baby stomach troubles

Common tummy ailments and how to soothe them.

When you consider that eating is your baby’s main job – it’s understandable that they may have a few episodes of stomach discomfort. …

1. COLIC

Colic is a highly common condition that is not very well understood. The most common symptom of colic is uncontrollable crying in a baby for no reason. This can be hugely stressful for parents when their otherwise well-fed and healthy baby cries incessantly and cannot be comforted.

What are the symptoms?

The crying that is associated with colic is usually very intense. Your baby’s face will be red and flushed, their crying will be severe and furious, and there will be little or nothing that you can do to comfort them. You may also notice a distinctive change in your baby’s posture. Your baby may clench their fists, draw up their knees, or arch their back. Crying most often occurs in the late afternoon, or evening, and is usually persistent, lasting for at least three hours a day, for at least three days a week, and for at least three weeks duration. The cause (or causes) of colic are unknown, but some researchers think that indigestion or wind may play a significant role.

Treatment

Unfortunately, there is no cure for colic. However, doctors, midwives and public health nurses have plenty of suggestions to try to soothe the tears and the pain. The good news is that most babies improve significantly after three months and are over colic by the time they’re five months old.

common baby stomach troubles

2. REFLUX

When a baby has gastro-oesophageal reflux, the food and drink travels down the foodpipe as normal. However, some of the mixture of food, drink and acid travels back up the foodpipe, instead of passing through to the large and small intestines. As the food and drink is mixed with acid from the stomach, it can irritate the lining of the foodpipe, making it sore. This is gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.

Gastro-oesophageal reflux is very common in the first few weeks and months of life, as the sphincter (ring of muscle) at the base of the oesophagus has not matured yet. Many babies with reflux gradually improve as they grow, particularly when they start to eat more solid food and feed in an upright position in a high chair for instance.

What are the symptoms?

The main sign of gastro-oesophageal reflux is frequent spitting up or regurgitation after feeds. She may occasionally cough a little after regurgitating the milk if some has ‘gone down the wrong way.’ Or she may cry during a feed, especially if you lie her down.

Treatment

Simple measures, such as holding your baby in an upright position for 20 minutes after each feed, can be helpful. It’s also worth trying smaller, more frequent feeds. It’s important to contact your GP if you are concerned that your baby has reflux.

3. LACTOSE INTOLERANCE

Lactose intolerance is an inability to digest the lactose, or sugar in milk. It’s not the same as a milk allergy, which is a rare condition, and is when a baby’s immune system reacts to proteins in milk, causing eczema, a rash or other symptoms.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, bloated stomach and stomach pain and wind.

Treatment

Sometimes, babies develop lactose intolerance for a short period after a tummy bug. If your baby is artificially fed, your GP may recommend a lactose-free formula for a short time. It’s rare for this to happen in breastfed babies; if it does, you can keep on feeding as it’s usually a short-term condition.

common baby stomach troubles

4. CONSTIPATION

What are the symptoms?

If your baby’s poo is hard and pebble like, this is a sign of constipation. Constipation is rare in younger babies, especially breastfed ones. The frequency that your baby poos varies a lot depending on their age and how you are feeding them. It can be typical for a breastfed baby to fill their nappy at each feed in the early weeks then after six weeks not have a poo for seven to 10 days.

Artificially-fed babies again can poo up to five times a day when newborn but after a few months, this can decrease to once a day. Constipation occurs when a stool in the lower intestine is pinched by the tightening of muscles, which can stall it, and the longer it remains there, the firmer and drier it becomes. Constipation is more common in older babies who have started on solids. Symptoms of constipation include irritability, gastric discomfort, a hard abdomen, abdominal pain and hard to pass pellet-like stools.

Treatment

If your baby seems constipated, give her plenty to drink. Some babies become constipated simply because they aren’t getting enough fluids. Talk to your GP or public health nurse before trying home treatments. If your baby is on solids, increasing fibre in the diet will bring relief to this condition.

5. DIARRHOEA

Most babies have occasional loose stools (poo). Breastfed babies have looser stools than artificially fed babies. Diarrhoea is when your baby frequently passes unformed watery stools.

What are the symptoms?

A looser stool every once in a while is not uncommon. However, if bowel movements suddenly become much looser or more watery, frequent, and profuse, it may be diarrhoea. Diarrhoea and vomiting are more serious in babies than older children because babies can easily lose too much fluid from their bodies and become dehydrated. They may become lethargic or irritable, have a dry mouth, and have loose, pale or mottled skin. If they become dehydrated they may have fewer wet nappies. They may lose their appetite and have cold hands andfeet. It may be difficult to tell how much urine they’re passing when they have diarrhoea.

Treatment

If your baby becomes dehydrated they will need extra fluids. Your GP may recommend you giving her oral rehydration solution a few times an hour, in addition to her usual milk feeds. Contact your GP if your baby has a fever, diarrhoea or vomiting for more than 12 hours. If your baby is less responsive, feverish, has a swollen tummy or is not passing much urine, contact your GP immediately.

common baby stomach troubles

Osteopath Noel Sugrue specialises in the treatment of babies, children and pregnancy related pain. He explains how osteopathy may helps babies with stomach ailments.

“The most common presentation to my clinic in babies is colic. Colic is the general name for digestive disorders including reflux, infant gut irritability, lactose intolerance and allergy. In my experience is it not always from a gastrointestinal source, the source of this discomfort can also come from structural strains from pregnancy and labour.

During birth the body is subjected to compressive or twisting forces. The babies’ connective tissues can become distorted and strained, and may feel uncomfortable as a result. These forces are magnified in labours that are quick or prolonged, or where the baby is not in the normal position. I find that these strains have either a direct effect in making the baby very uncomfortable, the same we experience pain after straining a muscle or ligament or an indirect effect that alters the function of the body.

A common example of an indirect effect is reflux . Strain to the mid and lower ribs (costovertebral joints) results in increased tone of the diaphragm altering if function and especially the function of the lower oesophageal sphincter which acts to stop the acidic contents of the baby’s stomach irritating the oesophagus.

Similarly, compression of the sacrum or pelvic strains can irritate the sacral nerves that innervate the bowl affecting the mobility and motility of the gut leading to constipation. The osteopathic approach to treatment is very gentle. Osteopaths work with the whole body to release tensions and stresses wherever they are found, to restore a sense of balance, harmony and relaxation to the whole body.”

More like this:

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ASK LOUISE

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….

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ASK LUCY

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….