Babies Got Stomach Ache, What to do?

If your baby seems unusually fussy, it could be a tummy ache. Pay attention to when your baby seems uncomfortable (like shortly after a feeding, for example) as well as what other symptoms she has, such as a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Discuss these symptoms with your baby’s doctor to help you figure out what’s going on. Below are some common and not so common reasons your baby could have a stomach ache.

Colic is the classic explanation for stomach pain (as well as other irritable baby symptoms). Your baby is considered colicky if she’s younger than 5 months old and cries excessively and uncontrollably for more than three hours in a row, three or more days a week, for at least three weeks, and there’s no medical explanation for her distress.

Experts aren’t sure what causes colic, but it seems to involve painful contractions of the intestines. The discomfort may be more intense in the late afternoon and early evening. Your baby may cry inconsolably, pass a lot of gas, and pull up her legs.

5 tips for soothing a colicky baby
Learn five tips to soothe a colicky baby.
What to do: Unfortunately, there’s no cure for colic. But parents and doctors do have plenty of suggestions you can try to soothe the tears and pain. The good news is that symptoms usually improve significantly between 3 and 4 months, and most babies are over colic by the time they’re 5 months old.

Constipation is the most common stomach problem in babies who are just starting solids. If your baby has bowel movements less frequently than usual, especially if she hasn’t had one in three or more days and is uncomfortable when she does have one, she’s probably constipated. Another sign is hard, dry stools that are difficult for her to pass.

What to do: If your baby is eating solids, ease constipation by feeding her food that produces looser stools (like oatmeal, apricots, pears, prunes, and peas) and cutting back on food that tends to cause firmer stools (like bananas, apples and applesauce, carrots, rice, and squash).

It also may help to get your baby to drink more fluids by offering her a bottle or your breast more frequently. Exercise can help get the bowels moving too: Try putting your baby on her back and “bicycling” her legs.

How to relieve your baby’s constipation
What are the signs of constipation in babies, and how can you treat it?
Gas pain
Gas pain is common in babies who have started solids and are trying lots of different foods for the first time. Also, your baby’s gas could be a sign of gut immaturity: The colonies of bacteria in a baby’s digestive tract (the “gut microbiome”) are still developing.

What to do: Ways to ease the discomfort include burping your baby frequently, keeping him upright for feedings, and giving him a gentle belly rub. You might try placing your baby’s tummy down across your knees and rubbing his back. Some parents swear by gas relief drops (available over the counter at the drugstore), though studies suggest they may not be very effective.

Most babies spit up a bit – or even vomit – once in a while after feedings. This is a condition called gastroesophageal reflux (or just “reflux”), and it’s normal in babies and children as well as adults. Reflux happens when the valve between your baby’s esophagus and stomach isn’t working properly, and food and gastric acid gurgle up from the stomach into the throat.

Reflux can cause an upset stomach and a burning sensation in the throat and chest. Most babies outgrow reflux in the first year.

What to do: It’s important to talk with the doctor if you think your baby has reflux. The doctor can recommend ways to reduce your baby’s symptoms and also monitor him for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Babies with GERD have reflux that causes serious symptoms or complications, such as breathing problems and being unable to feed properly.

Is it normal for my baby to spit up?

Babies spit up for a lot of reasons. Learn why the breast milk or formula keeps coming back up and get five great tips to reduce spit-up.
Stomach flu
Is your baby vomiting or suffering from diarrhea? If so, she could have gastroenteritis, also known as the stomach flu. It’s the second most common illness in the United States, after colds.

What to do: If the stomach flu is causing your baby to vomit or have diarrhea along with a fever and loss of appetite, it can quickly lead to dehydration. So it’s important that your baby gets plenty of fluids (formula or breast milk) to help her recover. Give the doctor a call for advice on rehydrating your baby.

Other infections
Believe it or not, the common cold and the flu can give your baby a tummy ache. That’s because much of the mucus produced during an upper respiratory illness drips down your baby’s throat and can irritate his stomach.

Some children vomit to clear the mucus out of their system. It’s not pretty, but it usually does the trick and the pain goes away.

A urinary tract infection, strep throat, and even an ear infection can sometimes cause tummy troubles, including nausea and vomiting.

What to do: Talk to your baby’s doctor. Remedies vary depending on the infection.

Food or milk allergy
Food allergies in babies can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain as well as wheezing, coughing, stuffy or runny nose, swollen tongue, and hives or an itchy rash. If your baby is allergic to a food, it means her immune system overreacts to a food or substance in food (such as the protein in milk) and treats it like a germ, causing allergy symptoms that can range from mild to severe.

Babies who are allergic to cow’s milk can have stomach aches, diarrhea, vomiting, bloody stools, hives, itchy rash, or severe colic after eating dairy products such as cheese or yogurt. (Don’t give a baby cow’s milk to drink until her first birthday.)

What to do: Talk with the doctor if you notice your baby having symptoms within a few hours of eating a certain food. She may refer you to a pediatric allergist for testing.

Some breastfed babies are allergic to cow’s milk in their mother’s diet and may also experience allergy symptoms. If you’re breastfeeding, your baby’s doctor may suggest cutting milk out of your diet to see if your baby’s symptoms improve.

Formula-fed babies with a milk allergy can also have stomach pain and other allergy symptoms. If your baby drinks formula, ask the doctor about trying another type, such as one that’s soy based.

Call 911 or go immediately to the emergency room if your child is having a life-threatening reaction. Serious allergy symptoms include turning blue, breathing trouble, extreme weakness or paleness, hives all over the body, bloody diarrhea, and swelling of the face, neck, or head. Sometimes symptoms affect different parts of the body all at once.

Temporary lactose intolerance
Lactose intolerance happens when the body doesn’t produce lactase, the enzyme necessary to digest the sugar in cow’s milk and other dairy products. True lactose intolerance is extremely rare in babies. (It usually develops between ages 3 to 5, or in the grade school or teen years.) But it’s common for infants to have a case of temporary lactose intolerance that may last a few weeks after a gastrointestinal illness, like the stomach flu or chronic diarrhea.

Gastrointestinal illnesses can damage the lining of the small intestine, leading to temporary difficulty digesting lactose.

What to do: Don’t give your baby cow’s milk or dairy products as he recovers from his illness, or he may have abdominal cramping, bloating, gas, or more bouts of diarrhea.

Motion sickness
If your baby seems ill or vomits during car trips, she may have motion sickness. This can be a problem on road trips, or even on your daily drive to daycare or school. Experts believe that motion sickness happens when there’s a disconnect between what your baby sees and what she senses with the motion-sensitive parts of her body, such as her inner ears and some nerves.

What to do: Take plenty of breaks during long rides, so your baby can get some fresh air. Making sure she has a little something in her tummy before rides may also help. Don’t give your baby any medication for motion sickness without talking to her doctor first.

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