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How to tell if your baby has digestive problems

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Do you suspect your baby has digestive problems?

Read below and find out how you can find out if your baby has digestive issues, and what you can do.

Unfortunately, digestive issues in babies are not easy to find out as your little one cannot tell you what’s bothering them. You need to do some investigating around the signs your baby is giving you.

Many infants suffer from feeding intolerance; this problem tends to subside after a few days of feeding, however, if your baby continues to suffer from episodes of vomiting and diarrhoea after each feed, this may indicate a congenital malformation of the stomach or intestines. Feeding intolerance usually occurs due to preterm birth, low birth weight and also delayed feeding.

The development of a baby’s microbiome is vital, and building it from birth is essential to support your baby’s immune function, digestion, nutrient absorption, and cognitive function. Babies are not born with microbial mature colonies, an infant’s microbiome is exposed to their mother’s bacteria in the placenta and continues to mature up until the age of 3. During delivery, if the baby is naturally born, they descent through the birth canal and pick up vaginal bacteria, which are the first mass colonisers required for growth and development. Within hours, your baby’s first intake of breastmilk is full of friendly bacteria full of nutrients, growth factors, and vitamins. As you begin to introduce solid foods to your baby’s diet, the microbiome shifts from a simple, Bifidobacteria-rich environment full of bacteria that digest milk sugar to a more diverse one with species that can break down starches and complex sugars to accommodate your baby’s new menu.

Reflux is a common thing most baby’s experience; it can take weeks for peristalsis (squeezing pattern) in the stomach to develop and get into the rhythm. Until then, milk can stay in the baby’s stomach longer than it needs to and tends to come back up (reflux). This tends to disappear once the baby is between 4 and 12 months. However, if the following symptoms occur (poor feeding, frequent hiccups, and congestion and breathing problems), it may indicate your baby is having problems and needs to be seen by a paediatrician. Alternatively, to manage it at home, burping your baby after every couple of minutes after breastfeeding, and keeping the baby upright for 20 minutes after each feeding can help significantly.

If your baby is vomiting, there may be some infection in the intestinal tract by a virus going around. The infection can present with a sudden bout of vomiting, usually accompanied by fever or diarrhoea. This usually passes in two or three days, but the baby’s tummy can take longer to recover. Signs that could indicate your baby is dehydrated is if there is a shortage of saliva or there is a fall in wet nappies.

Sometimes, vomiting in infancy can indicate the baby was either born with or has developed a malformation in the digestive tract. A common condition called pyloric stenosis occurs when the muscle at the exit of the stomach thickens, preventing milk from passing through it.

Diarrohea in babies is caused by a virus; Rotavirus usually shows up during the winter in babies between 6 and 24 months. Once rotavirus takes hold, it is vital that the baby stays hydrated.

If your baby has diarrhoea for more than two to three weeks and they do not present with fever or cold symptoms, they could have a milk allergy; as well as watery stools, allergic babies may suffer from cramping when they have bowel movements, have small amounts of blood and mucus in their stool, and develop a rash. A paediatrician may prescribe a hypoallergenic formula.
On the other hand, if your baby suffers from constipation, it could be due to the amount of whole milk they are drinking. Too much milk can lead to sticky, claylike stools. If the stools are firm and dry, and you suspect milk is the issue, try limiting the amount.

Try these tips

Below are some tips you can try with your baby to ease their digestive issues, however it is advised to take your baby to see a paediatrician and get definite diagnosis and treatment.

Nurse often – increases fat intake which can slow the baby’s digestion and help their body manage the conversion of lactose into other nutrients.
Adjust your feeding position – have the baby at more of an upright position, or on top of your body while you are reclining. Also, keeping the baby upright for at least 20 minutes after feeding is beneficial.

Carry your baby – instead of wearing your baby in a sling, carrying your baby gives your baby’s tummy a massage (close proximity of the baby’s body to the caregiver will naturally massage the baby’s pressure points on the abdomen) aiding in bowel elimination.

Have tummy time – when you lie your baby on their stomach, the pressure exerted can aid digestion and makes the baby comfortable.

If this resonates with you then…

At Perfect Balance Clinic, a Nutritionist or Lactation Consultant can guide you through what you can do to prevent your baby from getting digestive problems, and what changes you can implement in your feeding regimen.

So you can see that avoiding digestive problems for your baby is achievable with the right guidance and expert attention to detail, you can get the pain-free outcome that you deserve.

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