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As mothers, we know it’s always distressing when you see your baby cry continuously. And the worst feeling is the helplessness which surfaces when you don’t know how to ease the pain he is feeling or why he is even crying in the first place. In many cases, the reason may be an upset tummy.
Stomach pain is a common problem in babies. Their digestive systems are still getting used to solid/liquid food, so they may often experience issues like gas, reflux, acidity, diarrhoea, vomiting, and constipation. Although it is a minor health problem for adults, it can still cause a lot of discomfort to a little baby, and thus, must be adequately taken care of.
Common Causes of Stomach Ache in Infants
There may be many causes of stomach aches. Some stomach aches may be mild and may heal without any treatment, while some may require medical intervention.
Pain due to gas affects almost every baby at some point or the other, whether he is breastfed or bottle-fed. It is especially prevalent in infants between 1 to 4 months of age, due to their underdeveloped digestive systems.
2. Incorrect Feeding
If the breast or bottle is incorrectly positioned, the baby may swallow too much air, causing him discomfort later.
If you feed your baby too much of food, it can lead to various health complications, such as deterioration of the digestive system, pain due to bloating and pressure on the stomach, and vomiting.
4. Sensitivity to Certain Foods
Some babies may be allergic to ingredients in the formula milk they drink or certain foods. Such allergic reactions can be triggered when your baby has the food itself or has traces of it through your breast milk.
5. Lactose Overload
This happens when your little one gets too much foremilk (milk at the beginning of a feeding) which is rich in lactose but low in fat. This results in the lactose not being properly digested as there is not enough fat to slow down the process, creating excessive gas.
6. Underdeveloped Digestive System
As we discussed above, infants have digestive systems which won’t have developed enough to process the food, gas, and stool. Their microflora (unique microorganisms that live inside the gut), which help in the digestion process and strengthen the immune system, are yet to be created. This may also be a cause for gas in your little one’s tummy.
7. Gassy Vegetables
Breastfed babies may also have gas if their mothers start consuming vegetables like cauliflower, beans, onions, and cabbage. If you’re having such foods, it may be best to cut back on them to see if it makes a difference to your baby.
Changes in a baby’s diet, feeding habits or water intake may produce dry and hard stools. This may cause abdominal pain in constipated babies.
Babies between one and three months of age usually spit out a small portion of what they have consumed soon after feeding. This is because the valve between the food pipe and the stomach is not fully developed. The ‘spit’ sometimes reverses back into the mouth and throat, leading to stomach pain afterwards.
If there is an obstruction in the baby’s intestines or excessive wind, it can result in a stomach ache.
Best Home Remedies for Stomach Ache Relief in Babies
There are various natural remedies you can employ to soothe your little one’s tummy, but patience is of utmost importance. Don’t panic; your infant is the one who needs your help the most!
The best thing to do is to wait for some time, observe your baby, and judge the severity of the condition. Usually, stomach ache eases with time. If not, there are a few natural remedies you can follow to ease your baby’s tummy ache.
1. Chamomile Tea
Give your baby some warm chamomile tea (one cup of water per teabag). Doctors say that the chamomile’s anti-inflammatory properties will help in easing stomach pain as it loosens the muscles of the upper digestive system, relieving contractions and reducing tummy cramps.
2. Warm Compress
Another way to ease stomach aches is to gently press a warm compress against your baby’s abdomen when he starts crying due to stomach pain. The procedure can be repeated 2-3 times during the day and night.
If your baby has a stomach ache due to diarrhoea, then good bacteria are being lost in the stool, which is needed to balance the nutrient intake in the stomach and intestines. Yoghurt contains bacteria which can replace those which are lost, and feeding your baby with yoghurt can help bring the digestive process back to normalcy.
4. Massage Using Mustard Oil
Lay your baby on his back and gently massage his tummy using mustard oil. Apply it around the baby’s navel in an anti-clockwise direction. This will help stimulate the digestive system and move around the trapped gasses in your baby’s stomach. Massaging your baby every day is quite important.
Burp your baby after every feed by tapping gently on his back, while his head rests on your shoulder. If your baby doesn’t burp easily, try the ‘football hold’. Place him face-down on your forearm, with his legs straddling your elbow. Rest his chin in your hand and apply gentle pressure while stroking his back. This should release the excess air which may have gone inside while feeding.
When your baby is lying flat on his back, move his little legs in a bicycle motion, back and forth. The rotation will help release the gas from his tummy and lessen his pain.
Take a pinch of asafoetida and dissolve it in warm water. Apply the paste gently around your baby’s navel. It will relieve gas and ease your baby’s stomach ache.
8. Rock Your Baby
Rocking your baby while he is crying from stomach pain can help your baby pass excess gas. Since crying only causes him to swallow more air which creates more gas, the most important thing to do is to stop your baby from crying as soon as possible.
9. Foot Reflexology
Some techniques can be applied to several nerves in the feet, which will create a sense of relaxation in other parts of the body. The tummy region corresponds to the central arch of the left foot. So, take your baby’s left foot in the palm of your right hand and while supporting the ball of his foot, apply steady pressure with your thumb. This will help your baby relax and ease his tummy pain.
There are other home remedies as well, such as ginger water, aniseeds, peppermint tea, and honey, but those mentioned above are mostly quite effective, as they have been tried and tested by mothers all around the world. It is always best to use natural remedies so that your little one’s system isn’t harmed by any external agents.
Now, sometimes you might see that your baby is still experiencing stomach pain even after trying all the above measures. He may still be crying and feeling discomfort due to gas or stomach pain. In such cases, it is very important that you consult your paediatrician immediately if you notice your baby continually displaying the following symptoms:
- His crying pattern changes suddenly and/or he cries continuously at a high pitch.
- He has a fever and a bad cough too – A stomach ache, along with a fever, can either be due to a virus, or in serious cases, be an indicator of pneumonia. It’s best to take action at the earliest if your little one has a temperature.
- He vomits or has diarrhoea – If there is blood in the vomit or if it is green in colour, it requires immediate attention.
- He has blood in his stool or urine – While constipation can result in some blood showing up in a baby’s stools, too much blood too often could indicate a serious infection or disease.
- He’s losing weight – If your baby gets stomach aches often and seems to be losing weight because of this problem, it may need further checking into, just to be on the safe side.
The paediatrician can then put your baby on proper medication if the case is a little more severe than a simple stomach ache.
As babies grow up, they become less susceptible and more immune to gas problems and stomach issues. It is completely natural and in most cases, pass by quickly without too much trouble and with the help of simple home remedies. But also, it is of equal importance to know when to seek help too. If your baby exhibits worrying signs, take him to the doctor immediately.