Baby Crying after Feeding: Reasons & Tips to Stop

Baby Crying After Feeding – Reasons and Ways to Stop

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Gunjan Baweja (Paediatrician)
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Babies cry when hungry; it’s a common experience for all parents. It is alarming, however, when babies cry after feeding, especially if they seem distressed and cry endlessly without wanting to settle down. Since this issue is frustrating to both the mother and the baby, understanding what causes their fussiness after feeding is imperative so a remedy can be found. There are several possible reasons why babies may cry after feeding. One common explanation is that they may have gas or colic, which can cause discomfort and make them fussy. Another possibility is that they are experiencing reflux, where stomach acid flows back into the oesophagus, irritating.

Babies may sometimes be overstimulated or tired after feeding, leading to fussiness. Consulting a paediatrician can help identify the underlying cause and provide appropriate solutions to soothe the baby’s discomfort. Before you reach out to a healthcare practitioner, we recommend continue reading to learn more about the reasons for babies crying after feeding and how to stop it.

Video: Baby Crying after Feeding – Reasons and Ways to Stop

Why Do Babies Cry After Feeding?

Learning why a baby cries after feeding is the only way to try and work out why your little one cries after a feed. Here are five common reasons why babies cry after a meal:

Why Do Babies Cry After Feeding?

1. Colic

If your baby seems gassy after feeding and cries for hours, it could be colic. Generally, colic is the name for the condition where babies under three months cry for at least 2-3 hours every day and cry for three or more days in a week. Although it’s distressing to see your baby cry for extended periods, whether you bottle feed or breastfeed him, it’s common. About 1 in 5 babies have colic, and there is no single reason why it seems to occur. It is thought that it could be because of the developing digestive system that they would get gas or are unable to digest the milk fully.

Babies might have colic if they cry intensely for no apparent reason with their fists clenched and cheeks red. They would also arch their back and pull their knees close to the tummy. When they are not crying, they are their normal and happy self.

2. Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is a problem where the underdeveloped sphincter muscles at the end of the food pipe cannot hold the contents of the stomach. This causes food and digestive juices to flow out of the stomach and into the food pipe. Babies may or may not spit up the juices that flow into their food pipe. Therefore, spitting up is not always caused by acid reflux. The medical term for the condition is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).  GERD gives rise to symptoms such as stomach and heartburn in older children and adults. Acid reflux is one of the common symptoms of GERD. It can also manifest symptoms similar to colic.

Diagnosis of reflux is made based on the baby’s symptoms, and if severe cases are suspected, the doctor would recommend different tests to diagnose the problem.

3. Food Allergies

Food allergy is another reason for a newborn crying after feeding. Babies are often sensitive to new foods and can quickly develop allergies as their immune systems treat them as a threat. This is more common in breastfed babies, as mothers eat various foods the babies are not used to yet. Of the most-fed baby foods that cause allergies, milk, eggs and soy contribute to the highest number of allergies in children. If babies display extreme irritability, redness, hives or bloody stools after feeding, they should contact the doctor to test for allergies.

4. Gas

Gas is also a common cause of discomfort for babies soon after eating. If they seem to cry a lot of after every feed and show symptoms of bloating, it could be that they swallowed a lot of air while feeding. When you notice your baby crying after feeding formula from a bottle, he may have swallowed a lot of air while feeding, causing all that gas to get trapped in the stomach, making him uncomfortable. Although this is more common in bottle-fed babies, breastfed babies also experience this problem and must be burped often during feeds.

5. Formula

If you notice your baby crying after eating formula from a certain brand or manufacturer, he could be sensitive to their ingredients. Since every formula has a different composition, babies’ stomachs might take well to some and reject others. In such cases, trying specific formulas made for sensitive babies is advisable. Talk to the doctor before experimenting with different brands of formula.

6. Oral Aversion

Uncommonly, babies may have an oral aversion, a condition where they experience difficulty with oral stimulation or swallowing. This can result in discomfort and fussiness after feeding, leading to crying episodes. Oral aversion can arise due to teething. Research says that teething often makes the baby highly uncomfortable orally; hence, they may cry after feeding.

7. Sensory Overload

In rare cases, babies may experience sensory overload after feeding. Bright lights, loud noises, strong odours, or excessive physical stimulation can overwhelm their developing senses, causing them to become distressed and cry. Creating a calm and soothing environment for the baby after feeding, with minimal sensory stimuli, may help alleviate their discomfort and reduce post-feeding crying episodes.

Are There Any Treatments to Calm a Crying Baby After Feeding?

When a baby cries persistently after feeding, it can be distressing for both parents and the baby. Thankfully, several treatments and techniques can help calm a crying baby after feeding, providing them comfort and relief. Here are three effective approaches to consider:

  1. Burping –  Burping is a simple but essential technique to relieve gas and reduce baby discomfort. Gently patting or rubbing their back upright helps release trapped air from their stomach. This can be done during and after feeding, promoting better digestion and reducing post-feeding fussiness.
  2. Adjusting Feeding Positions – Experimenting with different feeding positions can make a difference in calming a crying baby. For example, holding the baby upright while feeding can help prevent or alleviate reflux. Additionally, nursing in a more elevated position or using specialised feeding pillows can assist in reducing discomfort caused by acid reflux or digestive issues.
  3. Providing a Calm Environment – A soothing environment can help calm a crying baby after feeding. Dimming the lights, playing soft music, or using white noise machines can create a peaceful atmosphere. Swaddling the baby snugly in a blanket or offering gentle rocking or rhythmic motion can also provide a sense of security and comfort, easing their distress.

Ways to Stop Your Baby From Crying After Feeding

Figuring out what is making your baby cry is only half the solution. Now you must figure out how to stop the condition that leads to it.

Baby From Crying After Feeding

1. Dealing With Colic

Try to eliminate as many factors as possible to deal with the baby’s colic. As they continue crying, babies suck in more air, increase their discomfort, and establish a self-reinforcing loop. If you notice other symptoms, have a doctor rule them out as possibilities. Colic resolves itself around six weeks and is usually completely gone by 4 months. For now, there is no treatment for colic except to eliminate all possible triggers.

2. Remedies for Acid Reflux

Sit your baby upright during their feeds to stop food from flowing back into the oesophagus. Laying them down while feeding or after feeds applies pressure on the oesophagal sphincter causing it to open. Hold the baby upright on your shoulder for at least 30 minutes after feeding. The food stays in the stomach, and he can burp out the gases.

3. Remedies for Gas

To deal with gas, sit the baby upright or have him rest on your shoulder for at least 30 minutes after feeding. Burp him often during and after feeds to release trapped gases mixed with the food. Hold babies upright and gently pat their backs to bring the gas up. If patting their back doesn’t work, try gently rubbing their lower backs and tummies in a circular motion to loosen the path of trapped gases. If the baby cries after feeding, he has probably ingested a lot of air and feels hungry when burped.

4. Dealing With Food issues

If your baby is crying after eating oatmeal cereal or there are other foods that you know the baby is allergic to, avoid such foods and choose alternatives that he can handle well. Consider switching the formula if he is sensitive to specific brands and becomes colicky after eating. When breastfeeding, avoid foods that can cause him discomfort.

5. Sucking on a Clean Finger

Offering a clean finger for the baby to suck on after feeding can provide additional comfort. This action mimics the natural sucking reflex and can help soothe the baby. Ensure your hands are clean, and gently place your finger in their mouth, allowing them to suckle briefly. This technique can offer additional oral stimulation and provide a calming effect.

6. Skin-to-Skin Contact

Skin-to-skin contact has numerous benefits, including soothing a crying baby after feeding. Undress yourself and the baby, allowing their bare skin to touch your chest. The warmth and closeness provide a sense of security, regulating their body temperature and heart rate while promoting relaxation and reducing crying episodes.

When to See a Doctor?

Baby and doctor

Colic and a few other conditions are to blame if babies cry too much after feeding. However, when you have tried all remedies such as changing formulas (if you are formula-feeding) or have avoided known allergens in your diet (if you are breastfeeding) and your baby continues to cry or vomit while losing weight, it’s time to consult a doctor.

FAQs

1. How Long Does a Baby Cry After Feeding?

The duration of crying after feeding can vary from baby to baby. Some babies may cry for a few minutes, while others may cry longer. Generally, it is normal for babies to have a brief crying episode after feeding as they adjust to feeling full. However, if the crying persists for an extended period or is accompanied by other signs of distress, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation.

2. Does a Baby Cry Frequently After Being Bottle-fed or Breastfed?

Babies may cry after both bottle-feeding and breastfeeding. While it is common for babies to cry after feeding due to various reasons such as gas, colic, reflux, or overstimulation, the frequency and intensity of crying can differ among individuals. Some babies may experience more frequent crying episodes, while others may be more content and cry less often. Understanding your baby’s needs and seeking professional guidance can help address any concerns.

3. Is It Normal for a Baby to Cry After Feeding?

It is relatively common for babies to cry after feeding, especially during the early months. Crying can be a way for babies to communicate their discomfort, fatigue, or need for attention. It’s normal for babies to have brief periods of fussiness after feeding. Still, if the crying is prolonged, excessive, or accompanied by other worrisome symptoms, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional. They can assess the situation and provide guidance tailored to your baby’s needs.

Seeing your baby cry after feeding can be distressing as you try to understand what is causing the discomfort. A systematic approach to testing what foods and feeding habits cause discomfort to your baby will help you narrow down the problem and find ways to eliminate them.

References/Resources:

1. Colic and Gas; Chop Education; https://www.chop.edu/conditions-diseases/colic-and-gas

2. Gastroesophageal Reflux; Kidshealth.org; https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/gerd-reflux.html

3. Earnsty. D; Teething and the fuss about feeding; Michigan State University; https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/teething_and_the_fuss_about_feeding_1

4. Breastfeeding: Your Best Choice; Ohio University; https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/MOB-1

5. Paced Bottle Feeding; Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Michigan Medicine; http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/Gyn/Lactation/PacedBottleFeeding.pdf 

6. Bhatia. J, Greer. F; Use of Soy Protein-Based Formulas in Infant Feeding; American Academy of Pediatrics; https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/121/5/1062/73488/Use-of-Soy-Protein-Based-Formulas-in-Infant; May 2008

Also Read:

Why Baby Cries during Bath
Why Does Baby Cry in Sleep
Why Does Baby Cry Before Sleep

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