There are a number of minor complaints that can affect young babies. While most of them are easily treatable, they can still be worrying for new parents.
Many young babies have a period during the day when they are unsettled. Although they’re crying with discomfort, they don’t appear to be hungry. This is often referred to as colic. Colic occurs commonly in the late afternoon and evening, and babies usually grow out of it at three to four months.
Because the causes of colic are unknown it can be difficult to treat. Sometimes soothing, comforting or massaging your baby can help. For more tips on helping your baby through this difficult time, take a look at our in-depth section on colic.
Posseting is something most young babies do. A small amount of milk from their stomach regurgitates back up into their mouth without causing much in the way of bother. Babies with mild posseting will gain weight and thrive normally, and they will grow out of it eventually.
If your baby is vomiting large amounts of milk, it could be down to either overfeeding or an infection. If your baby projectile-vomits, you should seek advice from your healthcare professional.
If your baby has reflux, their stomach contents will come up into their windpipe but not always into the mouth. This causes intense discomfort and, because there are no obvious signs, you may not realise that it is reflux.
More severe reflux is called gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and can lead to severe screaming episodes. GERD usually resolves as you baby grows, although it can continue through the first year and even beyond for some children. Talk to your GP if your baby seems distressed or unhappy after feeds.
Diarrhoea is common in babies, especially when they’re teething, but another cause, gastroenteritis, is a tummy bug caused by either a bacterial or viral infection.
Gastroenteritis is rare in babies that are exclusively breastfed, but some do get it. Formula-fed babies under six months are more vulnerable to gastroenteritis and dehydration, and in severe cases may need to be admitted to hospital.
If your baby has continuing diarrhoea after acute gastroenteritis, he may have developed a temporary intolerance to lactose. Ask your GP for advice on excluding lactose for weaning babies. Excluding foods from your baby’s diet should only be undertaken under the supervision of a medical practitioner and following advice from a dietician.
Constipation is difficulty, delay or pain when passing stools. In the first three to four months, breastfed babies should pass loose, yellow stools at least two or three times a day. From three to four months, stools will become less frequent and it’s not unusual for a baby to go several days without a bowel movement. As long as your baby is well and happy, there’s no need to worry. After the introduction of solid food, stools may change in frequency and colour.
Constipation is rare in breastfed babies, but if your baby is constipated he may not be getting enough milk because of poor attachment or positioning. Check with your midwife or health visitor.
Constipation is more frequent in formula-fed babies, and indeed babies switching from breast to formula often develop the condition.
If your baby is constipated, it is always best to consult your healthcare professional.
Newborns can lose weight in the first few days, but should have regained it by the time they are 10 to 14 days old. Breastfed and formula-fed infants have slightly different growth patterns during the first year: breastfed infants grow more quickly in the first three to four months, and more slowly from about five months compared to formula-fed infants. When recording your baby’s weight, make sure it’s being plotted on a chart based on breastfeeding babies. Babies should not be weighed any more often than every two weeks – shorter intervals will not show accurate weight gain or loss.
If your baby is not growing properly, doctors call it ‘faltering growth’. Your health clinic will let you know if your baby has a problem, but the signs to look out for include:
There are many ways to manage faltering growth in breastfed babies so it is important to consult your healthcare professional if your baby is not growing enough.
Please be aware that the information given in these articles is only intended as general advice and should in no way be taken as a substitute for professional medical advice. If you or your family or your child is suffering from symptoms or conditions which are severe or persistent or you need specific medical advice, please seek professional medical assistance. Philips AVENT cannot be held responsible for any damages that result from the use of the information provided on this website.