Your baby regurgitates, is constipated, or colicky?
Everyday baby complaints
Your baby is crying, restless, uncomfortable, and can’t tell you why: nothing is more worrying than when your baby is ill.
The doctor who follows her is your best ally.
Call them for advice: simply describing symptoms can be enough to identify problems. Your doctor will tell you what to do to bring relief until you book an appointment, if needed.
This problem mostly affects the very young. This is when your baby spits up milk in varying amounts after feeding. Regurgitating small amounts is not serious or painful. It is generally caused by the immaturity of the flap which prevents stomach contents from coming back up, and which can become more reactive. If you think it is causing discomfort (crying) or if your infant is spitting up large quantities, see a doctor.
- Make up smaller bottles. Giving your baby smaller bottles more frequently is preferable, as it will reduce pressure in the stomach.
- Take the time to burp your baby halfway through a bottle and when she is finished.
- If the problem persists, your doctor may prescribe an anti-regurgitation infant formula: these thicker milks have been formulated by paediatricians to minimise reflux.
My baby is constipated
The problem arises when there is very little stool, less than once every 4 days. When you change her diaper, you will see hard, dry stool. Your baby cries, she winces and her face gets red while she is straining to push out stool.
This is caused by her diet. The first solution is to increase your baby’s hydration to improve bowel function:
- if you are breastfeeding, make sure you are eating fibre-rich foods and drinking enough.
- if you are bottle-feeding an infant formula, follow your doctor’s recommendation and use magnesium-rich water to prepare your baby’s bottles until her bowel movements are softer.
- if your baby’s constipation coincides with the start of complementary feeding, give her fibre-rich foods such as green vegetables and fruit. Don’t forget to add enough oil or butter to her mash: teaspoon for each 100g of food.
- if the problem persists, see a doctor.
A mum’s tip
When constipation is causing discomfort, put your baby on her back in a peaceful place, and gently stroke her tummy clockwise. This simple massage will stimulate her bowel function and bring relief. To reassure and soothe her, hum a song that you sang a lot when she was still in your tummy.
My baby has diarrhoea
Diarrhoea involves frequent, very liquid and abnormally coloured stool. Its cause can be infectious (bacterial or viral).
What can I do?
Speak to your doctor, who will prescribe an adapted treatment and an oral rehydration solution from your chemist. Additionally, be sure to hydrate your baby, whose feeding will adapt to the severity of her dehydration.
A few precautions: observe strict hygiene, always washing your hands before feeding your baby or preparing her meals.
Diarrhoea is rarer in breastfed children: wash your hands thoroughly and avoid eating citrus fruits while your baby has diarrhoea.
If you have started complementary feeding, make sure your child is drinking enough (at least 150 mL per kilo of body weight, per day), and choose starchy, pectin-rich foods (rice, bananas, apples).
If the bout of diarrhoea lasts for more than 2 or 3 days, or if your baby has fever and is losing weight, see a doctor immediately. They will most likely recommend lactose-free formula if your child is intolerant or has digestive issues from regular formulas.
A mum’s tip
During diarrhoea bouts, stool is more frequent, but also more acid. Change your baby’s nappy more often and protect her bottom with some nappy cream to prevent irritated skin.
Your baby has colic
Colic tends to impact babies especially in the early months: frequent crying, a distended abdomen, and gas are all signs of colic. During a colic attack, your baby’s face might get red, and she will wriggle with pain, which causes great concern to parents. She is actually not in any danger, and her good mood will return as soon as the attack has passed.
The main cause of colic is an immature digestive tube, along with swallowing too much air when feeding.
Massing her tummy and comforting her will bring relief.
To avoid colic, hold your baby vertically to breastfeed her or give her the bottle.
If you have any doubts or fears, ask your doctor, who will offer advice and prescribe an adapted formula if needed.
My baby is allergic
Scientific studies have provided ample evidence that exclusive breastfeeding until the age of 6 months is the most effective way to prevent allergies.
Food allergies are an abnormal reaction of the body’s defence mechanism after ingesting a food. They can have a range of symptoms (itching, rashes, vomiting) and be more or less intense.
The most allergenic foods are not the same in every country. Here are some of the more frequent ones in children: cow’s milk protein, eggs, nuts (especially peanuts), fish, shellfish. If you think your child might have had a food allergy, see a healthcare professional for a diagnosis.
It is now well established that exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months of age at least will protect babies against the risk of allergies.
The first signs of an allergy are generally visible when complementary feeding is introduced. Introducing new foods to a baby before she is 4 months old increases the risk of developing an allergy. However, it has also been established that further delaying complementary feeding does not reduce this risk. During complementary feeding, it is best to only introduce one food at a time, as this makes it easier to identify potential allergies. When your baby starts eating new foods, only try one at a time. Once a food allergy diagnosis has been confirmed, ask your doctor for advice before excluding one or several foods.
For gluten intolerance (intolerance to the protein found in wheat, rye, oats, and barley), your doctor will recommend a gluten-free diet that focuses on flour from other grains, such as corn or rice. Follow these recommendations scrupulously.
Labelling now clearly identifies the ingredients in processed or industrial foods, making it easier for parents of allergic children.
Your baby has thrush
Your baby’s immune system is still immature, making her prone to infections.
Thrush appears as white patches or staining inside the mouth. It is not a serious condition, but it can be uncomfortable for your baby when feeding. This may cause her to lose weight. Quickly contact your doctor.
Contamination may have occurred during childbirth or come from her environment.
A few simple rules of hygiene can keep contamination risks at bay: carefully clean your nipples before breastfeeding. If your baby drinks from a bottle, sterilise everything before she puts it in her mouth. Also wash her pacifier, toys, and soft toy at a high temperature. After breastfeeding, give her some water to flush out any milk residue that might still be in her mouth.