Common Baby Feeding Issues
For a new mum it can be worrying when your baby doesn’t seem to be feeding as well as you’d expect, or they cry for long periods of time due to colic. It’s natural to think there’s something wrong, but often the problem is nothing serious and can be quickly remedied.
This article looks at the possible problems you and your baby may experience during feeding – such as colic, vomiting, diarrhoea and food allergies and intolerances – along with the potential causes and the solutions. Hopefully it will help you get to the root of the problem so you can both get back to enjoying feeding time.
Although it’s natural to us, feeding can be difficult to get the hang of at first – remember, your baby’s brand new to it. Still, sometimes there can be medical reasons behind feeding problems that can affect your baby’s appetite or the way in which they absorb food and vital nutrients.
While crying is your baby’s way of telling you they’re hungry, crying after feeding may mean trapped wind, and prolonged crying could be due to colic. Posseting is also a fairly common problem in many young babies and nothing to worry about in the majority of cases, however, regular vomiting and weight loss are more serious issues that will require support from your doctor.
The symptoms of colic include a flushed face, clenched fists, and legs pulled up to the chest with 2–3-hour spells of loud, often high pitched crying on most days of the week, often during the early evening. It tends to start in the first few weeks but usually disappears by around 3-4 months. Colic is very common – up to one in four young babies suffer from it. Call your doctor if you ever suspect that your baby has a colic: they will be able to diagnose your child and offer support and advice on how to manage the condition.
Crying before feeding
Usually, a baby that cries before feeding is simply telling you they’re hungry. Some mums say that this type of cry is recognisably different to other crying. Although it may all sound the same to you now, you’ll soon learn to identify the reason your baby is crying as you get to know them.
Crying after feeding
If your baby is crying after their feed it’s likely to be colic or wind. Winding your baby properly after every feed may help. If it doesn’t and your baby still seems distressed, your doctor should be able to offer some advice.
Poor weight gain
Most newborn babies lose a little weight straight after birth, but they should soon begin to put weight on if they are feeding correctly. Since your newborn’s stomach is quite small, they will initially need feeding every two to three hours. But all babies are different, and there’s no ideal amount or rate at which they should gain weight. Your doctor will monitor your baby’s weight gain, and if there’s any cause for concern they’ll let you know.
Posseting and regurgitation are terms used to refer to the little bit of milk a baby brings up after feeding. Although it’s natural, if your baby is posseting regularly – more than 4 times a day – and they’re bringing up more than just a little bit of feed, they may have reflux. Your doctor is the best person to speak to if you suspect your baby is posseting too much.
Vomiting is when your baby brings their entire feed back up. It’s different to the effortless and gentle action of posseting, which tends to happen immediately after a feed. Vomiting happens a little longer afterwards, is a more forceful action and larger volume, and often smells unpleasant. If your baby is over 6 months and it’s an isolated case of vomiting with no other symptoms, giving them some cooled freshly boiled water will help top up their fluids again. If your baby is under 6 months, given them breastmilk will help to hydrate them. You should contact your doctor if your baby is vomiting regularly, if it’s a large amount, if you ever notice blood in their vomit, if they also have diarrhoea or if they’re younger than 3 months.
Diarrhoea is usually caused by either a bug or a feeding issue – if you’re at all worried about it, the best person to speak to is your doctor.
If your baby has a cold or is feeling poorly for some other reason, it can put them off their food just as it would us. For example, a blocked-up nose can make it difficult to breathe and leave your baby reluctant to close their mouth to feed. If this happens, ask your doctor for ways to safely relieve your baby’s congestion.
Food allergies and intolerances
Food allergies and intolerances can be another explanation for weight loss or difficulty in feeding – it’s always worth getting your baby checked out by your doctor if you suspect there’s something wrong.