Children may suffer tummy aches from the very day they are born. Some children get over them easily, others may have these troubles for months. New moms need to have a lot of patience to handle such situations. Every belly ache can be different, so let’s look at the most common types of aches and what causes them.
Baby colic and gas
The most common problem of newborns is baby colic. It’s a term used to describe uncontrollable crying in otherwise healthy babies. If your baby is less than 5 months old, cries at least 3 hours per day, 3 or more days a week and if this situation lasts at least 3 weeks, your baby probably suffers from colic.
Colic may be caused by extensive gas in the baby’s body. The intestines of babies under 3 months aren’t completely developed yet and so baby colic is common during this time. Tummy aches are caused by gas in the intestines. They also tend to return when babies are around 6 months to a year old. This is usually the time period when breastfed babies change the food they eat and often try various kinds of solid foods for the first time.
How can you help?
Although it’s not known what exactly causes baby colic, moms are advised to change their diets. Foods that cause bloating should be off the table, such as onion, garlic, mushrooms, cabbage, and legumes. You should also avoid fried foods, smoked meats, and allergens such as eggs, nuts, strawberries, citrus fruits or tomatoes. It’s also advised to start drinking fennel and anise tea.
Belly aches caused by colic and gas can also be a result of a wrong breastfeeding or bottle-feeding method or even the wrong kind of bottle. The baby may be sucking in air instead of milk.
You can help your baby by exercising and massaging their belly clockwise using baby oil. Lay the baby down on their back and perform a ‘cycling’ motion with their legs in the air. After a moment, push the legs towards the baby’s belly. Repeat this a few times.
Rocking the baby in your arms belly down also helps fight colic. you can also rock your baby on an exercising fit ball. Many moms also recommend carrying the baby in a scarf. You can find more about scarves and how to properly carry your baby in our article about babywearing.
You can also try aromatherapy to calm down your little one. Use an aroma lamp with a natural mandarin or lavender oil.
This uncomfortable problem is very common with babies who are just switching over to solid foods. A baby’s organism needs time to get used to the changes that come with a different kind of food. If you’ve noticed that your baby’s stool is hard and dry or that your baby only empties its bowels once every few days, it may be a case of constipation.
How can you help?
You can help with constipation by adjusting the food you give your baby. Continue giving them solid foods but make sure that you give them more fiber than before and also foods that help soften the stool, such as oatmeal, apricots, pears, plums, and peas. Avoid foods that have the opposite effects, such as bananas, carrots, apples, rice, and pumpkin. Of course, you should also make sure your baby drinks enough liquids by giving them teas or baby water.
You may also try to exercise with your baby. Use the same exercises as you would with baby colic.
When feeding your baby, it’s common that they may spit out or even regurgitate some of the milk you give them. Regurgitating solid food, though, shouldn’t be common. If you have the feeling that your baby does this a lot, you may be dealing with reflux. Reflux is a state when food along with stomach acid returns into the esophagus. It causes irritation of the stomach and a burning feeling in the throat and chest.
Most children ‘grow out’ of reflux after their first year of life. However, this doesn’t mean that you should ignore or underestimate it. It’s good to consult your baby’s doctor about this problem.
How can you help?
Feeding your baby correctly is a good preventive measure. Take a short break halfway through – during breastfeeding, pause when changing breasts and if you’re already on the bottle, pause when about half the milk is gone. During this break, allow your child to burp so they can get rid of excess air. After you’re done feeding your baby, let them burp again. Make sure that after eating, your baby stays in a vertical position for at least 20 minutes.
If you’re experiencing problems with reflux, consult your doctor.
If your baby suddenly begins having trouble with vomiting and diarrhea, they may be suffering from a gastrointestinal infection. This disease if often accompanied by fever and a loss of appetite. It’s very dangerous for babies because it can lead to dehydration. If your child can’t hold milk or even water, seek out a doctor.