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Baby Got Gas? A Guide to Baby Indigestion
Have you ever heard of baby indigestion? Do you even know what that is? Well think about heartburn and indigestion and how it can make you feel. The deep pressure in both your chest and abdomen is enough to make you feel like you’re having a heart attack. Now imagine that feeling in a 2 week old baby. EVERYONE!!! I can tell you that everything you feel is 100% magnified in your child. Added to the intense pain the child feels is the fact that they have no way of telling you how they feel. They can’t say “mom, my belly hurts”.
What causes baby indigestion?
Well, in adults there are several causes, but, for babies, I think we can safely rule out alcohol consumption, smoking and eating spicy foods! It is also quite rare for babies to have stomach ulcers or gallstones. This means we can focus on food allergies and sensitivities as the 2 main causes of baby indigestion. So now that we have a general idea of the possible causes of baby indigestion; how can we tell if our baby has indigestion?
Symptoms of baby indigestion may include:
• Convulsions of fussing and/or crying, which may end after gas is relieved
• Curd from undigested food in stool (okay, let’s just call it poop, that’s what it is!)
• Very smelly poop and even diarrhea in extreme cases
Now it is very important that we understand one thing; and that is indigestion is not a cause or disease in itself. It’s just a symptom. So what we need to do is find the real cause of baby indigestion. Therefore, be aware that the real causes of baby indigestion are:
• Spoiled food
• Food allergies
• Food sensitivities
Spoiled Food and Baby Indigestion
Spoiled food is not good for adults as it can lead to all sorts of stomach problems and this is no different for our children. Therefore if you feed your child for formula – make sure that the best before date has not expired. Additionally, you should take extra care when sterilizing all bottles and equipment that touch baby formula. Make sure water you give to baby or use to mix powdered formula is safe and has been boiled.
Another thing we should avoid at all costs is reheating bottles. Mothers, if you are guilty of this practice, please, STOP IMMEDIATELY. If baby hasn’t consumed all of it, discard it. Also if you pump breast milk, make sure you use ONLY sterilized containers to store it. Refrigerate and use the milk within a few days or store in the freezer to make it last longer. Just following these simple tips could significantly reduce baby indigestion.
Phew!!! Now that took care of spoiled food. Ok, what about food allergies and how do babies get allergies when they only feed one thing? ï Š I mean, does this even make sense? Read on.
First of all it can be confusing trying to differentiate between an allergy and a food sensitivity. So how can you tell the difference and how does it relate to baby indigestion?
Food allergies and sensitivity and baby indigestion – Formula
First of all we must understand that allergies can cause strong reactions such as hives and severe rashes, vomiting, swelling of soft tissues such as ears and lips, or be life-threatening with anaphylactic shock reactions. Sensitivities; however, are milder and cause indigestion, discomfort, constipation and less severe skin rashes. You know those foods that just don’t ‘agree’ with you.
It is very common for babies to be allergic or sensitive to cow’s protein. Take comfort in the fact that most will grow out of this by a year, but that first year can be difficult. For those formula feeding moms, you’ll need to switch to a soy-based formula or one formulated specifically for babies with cow protein sensitivity.
Oh there is one word of caution; and that is, babies with beef protein sensitivity also have soy protein sensitivity. However, rest assured that there are formulas out there that have neither soy nor cow’s milk in them.
Food allergies and sensitivities and baby indigestion – Breastfeeding
If you are breastfeeding, eliminate all dairy products from your diet. This is because the foods you eat are passed to your child through your milk. Therefore, your breast milk may contain traces of cow’s protein from the dairy products you eat. So, I mean cut out ALL dairy if you want to reduce baby indigestion. Start reading food labels!!
Trust me, I know this sucks, I’ve done it myself in the past. You will get some headaches and feel like crap for a few days while your body detoxifies and works the dairy through your system. Basically, you will go through some withdrawal. Cheese as a drug… who knew?
The Fix – replace cow’s milk with goat’s milk as this can usually be tolerated quite well. After breastfeeding my kids for 6 months, I switched them both to goats milk and guess what?? They still love it. It is available in most major grocery stores and can be frozen if you need to store!
So how can you give your baby relief from Baby Indigestion?
You can use Greek water for more “instant” relief of baby indigestion. You can get this at any drugstore, and many health foods have an alternative with all natural ingredients. I’ve also tried some of the tablets that are on the market – most manufacturers call indigestion Colic so look for products that say Colic Relief or something similar. The label “Colic” is a bit of a misnomer as colic in babies may have nothing to do with indigestion but that debate is for another newsletter!
Additionally, you can give your baby tummy massages and baby enemas to ease indigestion. Remember, however, that none of these “quick relief” techniques target the cause of the indigestion; they only treat the symptoms.
A longer-term solution to the problem is to look for the food sensitivities and allergies that may be causing the indigestion in the first place.
How can this be done?
By analyzing a stool sample from your baby, your doctor will be able to determine if undigested cow protein is present and that your baby is sensitive to dairy products.
As always, I recommend talking to a doctor or naturopath about your baby’s symptoms if you are concerned.
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Helping you turn frustration into fun,
From the Diaper Pail Communications Inc.
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