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Baby Got Gas? A Guide to Baby Indigestion
Have you ever heard of digestive problems in children? Do you even know what that is? Think about heartburn and indigestion and how you might feel. The deep pressure in your chest and abdomen is enough to make you feel like you’re having a heart attack. Now imagine that feeling on a 2-week-old baby. YUCK!!! I can tell you that whatever you feel is magnified 100% in your baby. Adding to the intense pain the child is feeling is the fact that they cannot tell you how they feel. They can’t say “Mommy, my tummy hurts”.
What causes indigestion in a child?
Well, in adults there are several causes, but in infants I think we can safely rule out alcohol consumption, smoking and eating spicy foods! It is also relatively uncommon for children to have stomach ulcers or gallstones. This means we can focus on food allergies and sensitivities as the 2 main causes of children’s digestive problems. So now that we have a general idea of the potential causes of indigestion in children; How do we know that our child has digestive problems?
Symptoms of indigestion in a child may include:
• Attacks of sadness and/or crying that may stop after the gas is released
• Curd from undigested food in the stool (okay, let’s call it poo, it is!)
• Very smelly poop and in extreme cases diarrhea
Now it is very important that we understand one thing; and this means that indigestion is not itself a cause or a disease. It’s just a symptom. So what we need to do is to find the real cause of children’s indigestion. Therefore, be aware that the real causes of digestive problems in a child are:
• Spoiled food
• Food allergies
• Food sensitivities
Spoiled food and child’s indigestion
Spoiled food is not good for adults as it can lead to all sorts of stomach problems and our children are no different. So if you’re feeding your baby formula, make sure it hasn’t expired. Additionally, you must take extra care when sterilizing all bottles and equipment that touch baby food. Make sure the water you give your baby or use to mix formula is safe and has been boiled.
Another thing we should avoid at all costs is reheating the bottles. Mothers, if you have been guilty of this practice, please STOP IMMEDIATELY. If the child has not used it all, throw it away. Also, if you are expressing breast milk, make sure you ONLY use sterilized containers to store it. Refrigerate the milk and use it within a few days, or store it in the freezer for longer. Just following these simple tips could significantly reduce your child’s indigestion.
Yuck!!! Now that took care of spoiled food. Ok, what about food allergies and how do babies get allergies when they only get one thing?? ï Š I mean, does it even make sense? Read on.
First, it can be confusing trying to distinguish between food allergies and sensitivities. So how do you tell the difference and how does it relate to children’s indigestion?
Food Allergies and Sensitivities and Indigestion in Children – Formula
First, we must understand that allergies can cause severe reactions such as hives and severe rashes, vomiting, swelling of soft tissues such as ears and lips, or can be life-threatening reactions of anaphylactic shock. Sensitivities; however, they 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 children to be allergic or sensitive to cow protein. Take comfort in the fact that most of it will be out by one year of age, but that first year can be tricky. For formula-fed mothers, you will need to switch to a soy-based formula or a fattening formula specifically for babies with cow protein sensitivities.
Oh, there is one word of warning; and this means that it is common for children with cow protein sensitivity to also have soy protein sensitivity. However, rest assured that there are products that do not contain either soy or cow’s milk.
Food allergies and sensitivity and digestive problems of the child – Breastfeeding
If you are breastfeeding, eliminate all dairy products from your diet. This is because the foods you eat pass to your baby through your milk. Therefore, your breast milk may contain traces of cow’s milk proteins from the dairy products you eat. So I mean cut out ALL dairy if you want to reduce baby’s indigestion. Start reading food labels!!
Trust me, I know it sucks, I’ve done it myself in the past. You will have some headaches and feel like crap for a few days as your body detoxes and works the milk through your system. You basically go through a bit of a download. Cheese as a drug…who knew?
The Fix – replacing cow’s milk with goat’s milk, which can usually be tolerated quite well. After 6 months of breastfeeding my kids I switched them both to goat milk and guess what?? They still love it. It is available at most major grocery stores and can be frozen if you need to stock up!
So how can you give your child relief from indigestion?
You can use flu water for “instant” relief from your child’s indigestion. You can find it at any drugstore, and many health food stores have an all-natural alternative. I’ve also tried some tablets that are on the market – most manufacturers call indigestion Colic, so look for products that say Colic Relief or something similar. Calling it “colic” is a bit of a misnomer as infant colic may have nothing to do with digestive issues, but that’s a debate for another newsletter!
In addition, you can treat your baby to tummy massages and baby enemas to ease digestive problems. However, remember that none of these “instant relief” techniques target the cause of the indigestion; it only treats the symptoms.
A more long-term solution to the problem is to look for food sensitivities and allergies that may be causing the indigestion.
How can this be done?
By analyzing a sample of your child’s stool, your doctor will be able to determine whether undigested cow’s protein is present and whether your child is sensitive to dairy products.
As always, I recommend talking to a doctor or naturopathic doctor about your child’s symptoms if you are concerned.
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It helps you turn frustration into fun,
From Diaper Pail Communications Inc.
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