Whilst colic and reflux can be upsetting and frustrating conditions for both mother and baby, the cause is often quite simple - your baby’s brand new digestive system is adjusting to its new world. The digestive system is a complex, hard-working organ that never rests, and it can get easily overwhelmed. Here are some tips to help give relief to both you and your baby.
1. Look at what she is eating
When colic or reflux is a problem, we should look at what is upsetting your baby’s tummy so much. This is usually the content of her diet – if she is bottle-fed, consider changing to a goat’s milk formula or another alternative. If you are breastfeeding, pay particular attention to your diet as everything you eat will pass to the baby in some form. Of particular note are gluten and dairy, and foods such as onions, garlic, cabbage, excess sugar, processed foods and caffeine. If you notice your baby reacts to certain foods in your diet, they need to be eliminated until you finish breastfeeding – you will both benefit.
2. Don’t overfill her tummy
Another consideration, particularly in the case of reflux, is too much food at one time – make sure you give adequate time between feeds to allow the previous meal to be digested. Feeding too frequently can overfill her tummy and upset digestion, and on the flip side leaving too long a gap between feeds will cause her to overfeed the next time. Also, check your baby is not taking in too much air and is properly winded after each feed. Don’t hold back on her food, she needs it, but do find a pattern that works for you both, and stick to a regular schedule – digestive systems love regularity!
3. Consider supplements to support digestion
It is so important to get your baby’s digestive system off to a good start – it is the cornerstone of good health. Supplementing with the infant probiotic Binfantis can be hugely beneficial, as can the herb Slippery Elm.
4. Try an alternative approach
Natural medicine can be very useful to help infant digestive issues:
Herbals teas, such as peppermint and fennel, can bring relief, and you can give your baby a couple of teaspoons of cooled boiled herbal tea several times a day.
Paediatric acupuncture is very helpful for a wide range of infant issues, especially digestive complaints, and is a very gentle and nurturing treatment.
Abdominal massage (in clockwork circles) can help release trapped air in the bowels, and attending a baby massage class will show you how you can use these useful techniques easily every day.
Fiona O’Farrell is a naturopath and acupuncturist specialising in children’s and women’s health. For more information see www.thegateclinic.ie
or call 01 201 7210.