5 Ways to Help with Baby’s Digestive Discomfort
Your baby is fussy and seems to be wiggling around like his tummy hurts. Or maybe he spends hours crying and you’re trying to find a solution to make your colicky baby more comfortable and preserve your sanity. Whatever the source of digestive discomfort, the following practices may help
- Nurse often. Breastmilk is easy on baby’s tummy and sucking can calm even the fussiest baby. If your baby is fussy along with green, watery stools, it could be that he is getting too much watery foremilk, which is causing a lactose overload on his system. Nursing more often will increase his fat intake, which will in turn slow his digestion down a bit to help his body manage the conversion of lactose to usable nutrients.
- Adjust your feeding position. Babies who seem to spit up often could benefit from positioning that utilizes gravity to help keep the milk down. Instead of holding your baby horizontally across your body, use more of an upright position, like the football hold or on top of your body while you are reclining. Keeping baby upright for a half an hour after a feeding may also help. If your baby is gulping and choking when your milk lets down, he may be taking in a good amount of air. Upright positioning, along with frequent burping, may help alleviate his discomfort.
- Carry your baby. Wearing your baby in a sling not only provides a more upright position, but it also massages baby’s tummy, which in turn aids in bowel elimination. Because of the close proximity of baby’s body to the caregiver’s, baby wearing naturally massages pressure points related to digestion located on the abdomen. A fussy baby – whether from digestive problems or other issues – is also often calmed by movement, which baby wearing provides in abundance.
- Have some tummy time. The pressure exerted on baby’s abdomen when lying on their tummies can aid digestion and make baby more comfortable. While some babies resist being on their belly, take some time each day for supervised floor play with your baby. Lay him on a blanket, place some toys nearby, and allow your baby to get used to the feeling. Tummy time also decreases the risk of plagiocephaly, or a flattening of the skull with neurologic consequences, and promotes development of the musculoskeletal system. Always, however, place your baby on his back to sleep.
- Learn infant massage. While a whole body massage is helpful, just learning the skills for an abdominal massage can help get you and your baby through bouts of digestive upset. Consider the “I Love You” routine: With your baby laying on the floor in front of you, use your right hand to put gentle pressure on baby’s body moving from the groin to the ribs on the left side of baby’s body (like the letter I). Return to the groin and massage up to the ribs and across the abdomen (an inverted letter L, for Love). Finally, return to the starting point and massage up to the ribs, across the abdomen and down to the right side of the groin (making an upside-down U). This mini-massage follows the path of the large intestines, working any gas out of baby’s body and aiding in gastric emptying.
Some mothers worry that something they have eaten is causing their babies’ unhappiness. Occasionally babies are allergic to a substance from the mothers’ diets through her breastmilk – with cow’s milk protein being the number one culprit. If so, a mother can try eliminating all sources of the offending food from her diet. While noticeable improvements are sometimes seen in the first couple of days, it can take two to three weeks to eliminate some substances fully from mom’s body.
With some minor adjustments and changes in routines, your fussy baby will seem like a new person, and you will gain confidence in your parenting skills.