A common cause of fussiness in infants is related to stomach aches, most often caused by gas build-up or reflux. Your baby’s immature GI system is to blame for a lot of these episodes, but that doesn’t mean you as a parent can’t give your child some relief. Dealing with tummy troubles simply takes careful observation and a little resourcefulness. Experiment with both preventative measurements and homecare to find what works best for your little one.
While some infants do have GERD and so require medical treatment, if the pediatrician has cleared your child, you can tackle instances of reflux at home. During feedings, try burping your baby more often; start with once midway through, then once more at the end. If your baby has difficulty burping, use a new position such as laying your child across your lap, or sitting them up with your hands. Keeping your child in a more upright position in your arms or a seat for 20 minutes after eating can also help.
If your child’s main problem is gas, another place to check is the baby bottle. Proper bottle positioning can be essential in minimizing air intake during feeding. Both shorter bottles and those with ergonomic handle designs can help you maintain this position for your child. Also, avoid letting your baby hold the drink themselves until they have been weaned to sippy cups or glasses. Nipples are also important for regulating air intake at feeding time. Check the flow rate on your nipples to ensure they are the correct stage for your child. Too fast a rate may cause your child to start gulping, and too slow a rate may cause too much sucking, both of which can lead to swallowing too much air.
If you are breastfeeding, experiment with your diet. Many food components can pass through the breast milk to your baby, such as caffeine, garlic, and pepper tannins. While many babies may easily adjust to these possible irritants, others develop a sensitivity in infancy that may not wear off until early childhood. If you are feeding formula, consider switching to one labeled “gentle,” that has its milk proteins more broken down than regular formulas.
Simethicone drops are effective, but are not the only homecare for infant stomach complaints. Often, a warm compress or bath can ease pain, and gently massaging tummies may work as well. For gas, you can lay babies on their backs and slowly bicycle their legs in circles, or gently press their knees towards their stomach to encourage flatulence. Another all-natural remedy that lets you avoid over the counter medication is a cup of chamomile tea: one standard teabag to one cup of warm water. Served without honey, this tea is perfectly safe for infants and young children, and can help them sleep as well as relieving belly cramps.
One final remedy is do-it-yourself gripe water: one teaspoon of sugar in one fourth cup of lukewarm nursery or filtered water can be mixed and given to your child for stomach relief.
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