Feeding and digestion

Understanding your baby's feeding problems can help you have a happier baby, and a happier family. Here we talk about some of the most common concerns you might have, and provide some guidance on how you can help your baby and yourself cope.

Feeding and digestion troubles

Baby's feeds can be the cause of many worries for mums, but you're certainly not alone. Feeding problems can occur anytime of the day or night, which is why this section is here to help you. Whether it's milk or food worries on your mind, our Careline is here to help you too! Remember you can contact our Careline if you have any questions.

Colic

A colicky baby is very unsettled, crying non-stop, often in 2-3 hour spells. The signs of colic include a flushed face, clenched fists and legs drawn up to the chest in discomfort, and no matter how much you console your baby, nothing seems to help - which is the most distressing part for mums. The good news is, colic isn't a lasting symptom and will usually disappear by 3-4 months old.

In the meantime, here are some tips to soothe your crying baby:

  • Give your baby a nice warm bath and cuddle them in a warm blanket
  • Comfort your baby with a cuddle, rocking them back and forth in your arms.
  • Different winding techniques may also help, so ask your healthcare professional next time you see them
  • White noise, i.e. soft, continual noise may help settle your baby. Set your radio to static and turn the volume up a little.
  • Take them for a walk or a drive in the car - the movement can help settle them

Hard or irregular stools

'Passing the motions', as we like to call it, may become all the more difficult if your baby has small, hard, infrequent poos. This can be caused by things like a change in diet, lack of fluids, certain medications or avoidance because it's painful.

Here are some tips that may help your baby do softer poos, making for happy tummies:

  • Give your baby extra drinks of cooled, boiled water (30-50mL) between feeds
  • Make sure you're feeding them enough (underfeeding may cause hard stools). Your health care professional will help guide you on how much your baby should be having per feed.
  • If your baby's formula feeding, ensure you're making it correctly (too much powder will make it too concentrated)
  • Gently massage your baby's tummy or move their legs in a cycling motion

'Spilling' milk after feeds

If your baby is growing happily and thriving, the occasional milk 'spill' during or after feeding is generally nothing to worry about. It's something that tends to happen up until about six months of age when they start to grow out of it. But in the meantime, it's a good idea to have those bibs and cloths handy!

You can try reducing the amount of 'spilling' by:

  • Checking that you have the correct position of your baby when feeding
  • Being extra gentle when winding (using a front pack or sling may help)
  • Keeping your baby upright for around 20 minutes after feeding
  • Trying to avoid changing their nappy if they have a full stomach
  • Giving smaller feeds more frequently

A thickened feed may help if it's happening often so talk to your healthcare professional about what might be best.

Mum, I'm still hungry!

Surprisingly, the answer here isn't always to give your baby more…for example, some babies like to suck for comfort and seem to be demanding milk when they just want a cuddle! Around six weeks, it could also be a growth spurt, which can mean you have a hungrier baby for a few days. And if you're wondering about solids, these should only be introduced from around six months old - your breast milk will give your baby all the nutrients and energy they need until then.

Waking up for night feeds

With night feeds, there's no hard and fast rule. Some babies will need them for longer than others, and for the first three months, it's not unusual for their tiny tummies to want food in the middle of the night.

There are a number of reasons your baby might be waking up:

  • They could be thirsty or hungry
  • Are they teething?
  • Check the temperature of the room - are they too hot or too cold?

If your baby's older though, they might just enjoy the warmth of your body and the comfort of your special midnight cuddles! They'll grow out of it eventually, but you can try breaking the habit by making their last feed as late in the day as possible. Go with your instincts and do what feels right for you both. 

Winding worries

If your baby refuses to suckle anymore, cries or seems uncomfortable - especially when you lay them down after a feed - they may have wind. This is caused when they swallow too much air when feeding, crying or simply breathing, and it makes them feel full. Some babies need to be winded during feeds, while some need none at all. Breast fed babies tend to need it less because their feeds are smaller and they have more control over your milk flow.

Here are our tips for winding your baby:

  • Place your baby over your shoulder with their bottom supported by your arm on that side. This way baby is in perfect 'burping position': an upright, stretched out posture. Pat or rub their back gently with your other hand.
  • Sit your baby upright on your lap, hugging them with your arm. Allow baby to lean forward slightly, so that their tummy rests against your arm. This position will gently compress their abdomen, which may help to bring up the wind. Pat or rub their back gently with your other hand.
  • At the end of your feeding session, cuddle your baby close and you may get a sleepy burp in response!

 

Have a question or want to know more? Our Careline team of midwives, dietitians and mums are here to help you out. Call us on 1800 258 268 - Monday to Friday, 
from 6:30am-5:00pm (AEST) or send us an email or Live Chat.