5 Little Known Signs That Your Baby Has Indigestion
Everyone knows babies don’t come with instructions and sometimes this can make it difficult to figure out exactly what their needs are. Many a new mother, as well as an experienced mother, has had problems deciphering exactly what a baby needs and often figures this out by trial and error. That being said, babies have relatively basic needs that some new parents tend to complicate or attach their own experiences to. While this is only natural, pacing and pouncing a baby to sooth them, for example, might not be the best remedy to calm an ailing child. While you may feel better doing "something" to calm your child during an uncomfortable episode, little is being done to address the root cause. Instead this is a time to deal with the underlying problem, so that you can fix it.
Contented babies do not cry at the same time every night unless something is habitually and unintentionally be done to cause their discomfort. If a baby is crying every night for long periods of time, it is likely because they are experiencing symptoms of indigestion.
What Causes Indigestion?
The process of digestion uses up a large bulk of your babies energy. This is why it’s important to feed when your baby is calm. Indigestion is mostly caused by enervation. Enervation is defined as a feeling of being drained of energy or vitality, or by being fatigued. Babies can become enervated easily, and when this happens digestion can come to a halt.
Your baby can become enervated by overexcitement, overeating, feeding between meals, eating when tired or excited, eating starches before the end of the second year, being overtired from outings, missing their afternoon nap, being overheated, cold, or on medication. These are just some of the situations that can exhaust your baby’s precious nerve energy, leaving little for the process of digestion, and may result in discomfort.
What Exactly Is Indigestion?
Put simply, indigestion is very common in babies under two years old. It is nothing more than discomfort during or after eating. The first signal of indigestion may begin with a burp, or a series of burps, known as hiccups. It may also begin with symptoms of food intolerance, such as gas, bloating, constipation or stomach upset.
Indigestion is very common when foods are introduced too early. Indigestion can also happen when solid foods digest slowly and become backed up in the intestine. Signs that your baby has indigestion may include some of the following:
- Hiccups -- Many people don’t associate hiccups with digestion and ignore them, but hiccups are really a series of small burps, which sometimes precede reflux and very much a mild and early sign of indigestion.
- Reflux – When you feed your baby and he/she regurgitates most of what they drank - this is indigestion. Reflux is often caused by unintentional overfeeding. Some babies are ambitious eaters who can take in too much milk while breastfeeding. This excessive intake can burden the stomach and the process of digestion. Because the stomach is overworked and the excess of food has nowhere to go, your healthy baby will naturally regurgitate it. This process is known as reflux. When reflux becomes a daily habit, you have to look at how many times your child is feeding – it may be too much.
- “Witching Hour” – Gas, bloating, fussiness, and baby hysteria can put both a mother and baby on edge. Somehow we have come to see this display of discomfort as normal, but it is anything but. “Witching hour is caused by indigestion.” This fussy time of the day usually occurs around the third or sometimes fourth feeding of the day and can easily be remedied by resting the digestive tract and perhaps pushing back the feeding until bedtime.
- Trouble Sleeping – If your child is having trouble staying asleep and has no fever or any other indication of illness, the cause may be silent indigestion. It is a little known fact that indigestion is one of the most common causes of sleep disruption, even if it cannot be felt. When food is moving through the digestive tract inefficiently it will wake your baby, where a baby with efficient digestion may sleep through the night.
- Teeth Grinding – Grinding of the teeth is an innate anatomical mimicking of chewing that occurs subconsciously while we sleep. It often happens when we are experiencing indigestion. Feeding before bed or giving milk with cookies as an example, may be enough to cause indigestion in children. Grinding teeth during the night or even clenching, can be stopped by not feeding too close to bedtime and allowing your child ample digestion time before going to bed.
Recognizing and Dealing with Indigestion in Babies
Herbert Shelton, MD, the father of Natural Hygiene -- a form of natural biology and natural living, and the author of The Hygienic Care Of Children, has never been shy about his theories of indigestion as the most obvious cause of discomfort that babies and small children face. In fact his writings have been rather direct in how to correct it:
“Mothers and others who care for children, whether under or over two years of age, should be able to recognize the symptoms that precede, accompany, and follow indigestion, constipation, gas, distention of the bowels, excessive urination, a gradual growing state of dissatisfaction, white curds in the stools of milk-feeding babies, hard stools, etc. It should be known that white curds in the stools indicate that the baby is getting more milk than it can digest. It is being overfed. Mothers should not wait until the child is pronouncedly sick before doing something about this. Cut down the milk one-half and continue this feeding program until the bowels are moving regularly and the stools show a normal consistency.”
Feeding your baby when he is calm and avoiding feedings when they are overstimulated goes a long way in avoiding indigestion in your children. As always work closely with your own practitioner or Naturopath to determine what feeding strategies work best for you and your baby.