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As mothers, we know it’s always distressing when you see your baby crying endlessly. And the worst feeling is the helplessness which comes along when you don’t know how to ease the pain he is feeling or even why he is 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 the solid/liquid food, and so they may often experience issues like gas, reflux, acidity, diarrhoea, vomiting and constipation. Although it is a minor health problem for adults, it still causes a lot of discomfort to the little one, and so must be adequately taken care of.
Common Causes of Stomach Ache In Infants
There may be many causes of belly aches. Some stomach aches may be mild and may heal without any treatment while some may require medical intervention.
Pain due to gasses affects almost every baby at some point or the other, whether he is breastfed or bottle fed. It is especially prevalent in infants between 1-4 months of age, due to their underdeveloped digestive systems and may occur due to:
2. Incorrect Feeding
If the breast or bottle is incorrectly positioned, the baby may swallow too much air.
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 Food
Some babies may be allergic to ingredients in breast milk or formula.
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 have not yet learnt how to process the food, gas and stool. They are yet to create their microflora (unique microorganisms that live inside the gut), which help in the digestion process and immune system. This may also be a cause for gas.
7. Gassy Vegetables
Breastfed babies may also have gas if their mothers start consuming vegetables like cauliflower, beans, onions and cabbage.
Change in a baby’s diet, feeding habits or reduced water intake may produce dry and hard stools. This may cause abdominal pain in constipated babies.
Babies between one and three months usually spit out a small portion of what they have consumed soon after feeding. This is because the valve between the food pipe and stomach is not fully developed. The ‘spit’ sometimes reverses back into the mouth and throat, creating stomach pain after.
If there is an obstruction in the baby’s intestines or excessive wind, stomach ache can result.
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 the most 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, then you can follow ten natural remedies you to cure a baby’s stomach ache –
1. Chamomile Tea
Give your baby some warm chamomile tea (one cup water per teabag). Doctors say that chamomile’s anti-inflammatory properties will help in easing stomach pain as it loosens the muscles of the upper digestive system, relieving along contractions and reducing tummy cramps.
2. Warm Compress
Another way to ease stomach aches is to gently press a warm compress onto 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 the 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 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 gasses and lessen stomach 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 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 produce 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 to relax and ease 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 to not harm your little one with outside 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 to consult your paediatrician immediately if you notice your baby continually displaying the following symptoms:
- Crying pattern changes suddenly
- Cries continuously at a high pitch
- Has a fever
- Vomits or has diarrhoea
- Has blood in his stool or urine
The paediatrician can then advise and 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. But also, it is equally of importance to know when to seek help too. We hope this article is useful to you in helping to treat your baby’s stomach aches.
Also Read: Indigestion in Children