When your tot’s tummy is upset, you want to fix the problem fast. Knowing exactly how to help can be tricky since he can’t tell you why it hurts. Find out what might be causing your baby or toddler’s bellyache and how you can help settle his stomach.
It can happen for many reasons.
- Colic: This usually happens in babies under 3 months old. Doctors aren’t sure why babies get colic, but they think it may make the intestines tighten painfully. Your baby might have colic if he:
- Cries more in the late afternoon or evening
- Cries for at least 3 hours for 3 days a week or more for at least 3 weeks
- Pulls his legs to his chest when he cries
- Passes lots of gas
Every baby is different, but there are options you can try:
- Swaddle your baby in a blanket
- Hold your baby and walk around or rock him
- Use white noise as a distraction
- Offer a pacifier
- Also, take care of yourself. The constant noise and stress of a crying baby can wear down even the most patient parent. Call on a partner or caregiver to step in when you need a break.
- Gas: In babies, colic and gas often go hand and hand. Their new digestive systems are still working out the kinks as they grow. Gas can come from:
- Bacteria in the intestines
- Swallowing air
- Trouble digesting formula or certain foods
- Trouble with breast milk when mom eats certain foods
If you’re breastfeeding your baby, talk to his doctor about your diet. You may be able to solve the problem by avoiding foods that seem to bother your baby. If he takes formula, ask your doctor if switching to a different kind might help. You can also try giving your baby gas drops made with simethicone, but there’s no clear proof that they work.
- Constipation: It can hurt when little systems back up. If all your child can get out is hard, dry bowel movements or none at all, he’s constipated.
Some of the reasons constipation happens include:
- Holding in bowel movements
- Not eating enough fibre-rich foods like fruits and vegetables
- Not drinking enough water
- Changes in diet or routine
- Taking certain medications
- Milk allergies
- The best way to calm a constipated tummy is to get bowel movements moving again. There are a few ways you can help get things going:
- Give your child prune juice.
- Cut constipating foods out of your child’s diet, like milk and cheese.
- Make sure your child gets regular physical activity.
- Take a break from toilet training.
- Don’t give your child a laxative until you check with his doctor.
- Reflux: Babies with reflux (heartburn) have a burning sensation from stomach acid coming back up their esophagus. Sometimes, infants with reflux have a digestive disorder called GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) Signs include:
- Refusing to eat
- Gagging or choking
- Coughing a lot, especially at night
- Frequent ear infections
- Rattling in the chest
- Vomiting or spitting up a lot
- Poor weight gain
- Bleeding in the GI tract
Your doctor can recommend different feeding positions that keep your baby upright and help acid stay out of his esophagus. There are also medications your doctor can prescribe that help take away stomach acid and make the stomach empty faster if the baby is not gaining weight or there are other concerns. Many infants outgrow reflux problems by age 1.
If after all these your child is still not better, you should see your doctor.