Nothing is more worrying for a mum than to see her baby suffering: they are crying, restless, unsettled, and can’t tell you why.
Their doctor is your most important ally. Call them for advice: a description of the symptoms may be enough to identify the problem. The doctor will tell you what to do to soothe your baby before visiting them if necessary.
This is a problem which mainly affects the very young. It involves the rejection of a variable amount of milk after feeding. When not in large quantities, regurgitating is harmless and nothing to worry about. It is generally related to immaturity of the small valve supposed to prevent the contents of baby’s stomach coming back up, which will become more and more responsive. If regurgitation seems to be causing discomfort (crying, etc.) or large quantities are coming up, consult the doctor.
Is there a solution?
- Ensure that there is not too much liquid in the baby bottles. It is preferable to give smaller bottles more often, to reduce pressure in the stomach.
- Take the time to burp baby at the middle and end of the bottle.
- If the problem persists, anti-regurgitation infant milks are available. The doctor can prescribe them for you: they have a thicker formula which has been developed under the supervision of paediatricians to reduce reflux.
This problem arises when stools are produced very rarely: less than once every four days. When changing their nappy, you will notice that they are dry and hard. Baby will also cry, go red with exertion, and wince in pain when emitting stools.
The cause is dietary. The first thing to do is increase baby’s hydration to facilitate digestion:
- if you are breastfeeding them, be sure to eat high-fibre foods and drink plenty of liquids.
- if you have opted to feed using a baby bottle and infant formula, while re-establishing digestion make sure to fill baby’s bottles with water which is rich in magnesium – ask your doctor for advice.
- if they are constipated when you begin to diversify their diet, have them eat high-fibre foods, such as green vegetables and fruit. Do not forget to add a sufficient amount of oil or butter to purées: around 1 teaspoon per 100g of food.
If the difficulties continue, consult your doctor.
A tip from mum
When baby is affected by constipation, place them on their back, in a quiet place, and gently massage their tummy in a clockwise direction. This simple movement should stimulate digestion and soothe them. To reassure them and calm them down, sing them the song you sang most when they were still in your tummy.
Diarrhoea is characterised by stools which are more frequent than usual, very runny, and abnormal in colour.
The cause may be an infection (bacterial or viral).
What should I do? Speak to your doctor, who will prescribe the most suitable treatment and an oral rehydration solution sold in pharmacies. Also ensure that baby is kept well hydrated, as they will adapt their dietary intake to their state of dehydration.
Precautions to take: follow rigorous hygiene practices, and wash your hands before feeding baby or preparing their meals.
Diarrhoea is much less common if you breastfeed your baby: ensure that you carefully wash your hands, and avoid eating citrus fruits during the diarrhoea episode.
If you have begun to diversify their diet, check that they are drinking enough (at least 150ml per kg of body weight per day) and opt for food with high starch and pectin contents (rice, bananas, apples).
If the episode lasts more than 2 or 3 days and baby has a fever or is losing weight, consult your doctor immediately. They will probably advise you to use lactose-free milk in cases of intolerance or digestive problems related to normal milk.
A tip from mum
During an episode of diarrhoea, stools will be more frequent, and also more acidic. Change baby more often and protect their bottom with a cream to prevent skin irritation.
Baby is especially likely to suffer from this during the first few months. Signs of colic include frequent crying, a swollen tummy and gas. During the episode, baby will go red, curl up and squirm in pain, which can be quite distressing for the parents. But this is not in fact dangerous and baby will soon feel cheerful again when the episode is over.
The main cause of colic is the immaturity of the digestive tract, as well as too much air being swallowed during meals.
To soothe them, rub their tummy and comfort them.
To avoid colic, keep them in a vertical position while breastfeeding or giving them their bottle.
If you have any doubts or concerns, ask your doctor, who will offer you advice and prescribe specially adapted milk if necessary.
Scientific studies have to a large extent proven that breastfeeding exclusively up to the age of 6 months is the most effective way to prevent allergies.
Food allergies are an abnormal reaction by the body’s defences to the ingestion of a particular type of food. Symptoms can vary greatly in type (itching, skin rashes, vomiting) and intensity.
The foods most likely to cause allergies differ from country to country. A few which are quite common in children are: cow’s milk protein, eggs, nuts (peanuts in particular), fish and shellfish. If you think your child has had an allergic reaction to food, consult a health professional for an assessment.
It is now well established that breastfeeding exclusively up to the age of at least 6 months protects baby against the risk of allergies.
The first signs of allergies are most often seen during food diversification. Introducing baby to new foods before the age of 4 months increases the risk of developing an allergy. But it has also been shown that delaying food diversification does not reduce this risk. During food diversification, it is best to introduce just one new food at a time in order to spot any signs of an allergy. When baby begins to eat new foods, introduce just one of them at a time. When a food allergy has been diagnosed, ask your doctor for advice before completely excluding one or more foods.
In the case of intolerance to gluten (a protein present in wheat, rye, oats and barley), the doctor will draw up a gluten-free diet with an emphasis on other cereals such as corn and rice. Follow their instructions very carefully.
Labelling now clearly identifies processed or industrial products, making things a little easier for mums who have to deal with a child’s allergy.
Baby’s immune system is still immature, which makes them sensitive to infections.
The symptoms of thrush are white spots or blotches inside the mouth. This condition is not serious, but will annoy baby during feeding and they risk losing weight. Contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Contamination may have occurred during birth or come from their environment.
A few simple hygiene rules can prevent any risk of contamination: before breastfeeding, carefully wash your breasts. If baby is using bottles, sterilise the equipment before they put it in their mouth. Also wash their dummy and toys, including their favourite cuddly toy, at a high temperature. After feeding, give them a little water to remove milk residues inside their mouth.