There are a number of minor complaints that can affect young babies. Most of them are easily treatable, they can still be worrying for new parents.
While certain problems are very common for young babies, that doesn’t make them any less alarming for new parents. Make sure you keep track of your babies health, and are as informed as possible about the problems they may face. If you have any doubts or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to a healthare professional – but with some preparation and research, most of the time it won’t come to that.
Unsettled babies and colic
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.
The causes of colic are unknown and therefore it can be difficult to treat.
Soothing, comforting or massaging your baby can help.
Certain bottles, soothers and pacifiers are specifically designed to soothe colic symptoms
Posseting is something most young babies do. A small amount of milk from their stomach regurgitates back into their mouth without causing any harm. Babies with mild posseting will gain weight and thrive normally, and 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, or vomits very frequently despite not being overfed, you should seek advice from your healthcare professional.
Reflux and gastro-oesophageal reflux
If your baby has reflux, their stomach contents will come up into their windpipe but not always into the mouth.
Reflux often does not have obvious signs for parents
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 your 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 and gastroenteritis
Diarrhoea is common in babies, especially during teething.
Another cause, gastroenteritis, is a stomach bug caused by either a bacterial or viral infection.
Gastroenteritis is rare in babies that are exclusively breastfed, but still a possibility.
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, they may have developed a temporary intolerance to lactose. Ask your GP for advice on excluding lactose for weaning babies. Excluding particular foods from your baby’s diet should only be undertaken under the supervision of a medical practitioner and following advice from a dietician.
Constipation refers to 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 due to poor attachment or positioning. Check with your midwife or health visitor.
Constipation is more frequent in formula-fed babies, and babies switching from breast to formula often develop the condition.
If your baby is constipated, it is always best to consult your healthcare professional.
How can I tell if my baby is growing enough?
Newborns can lose weight in the first few days, but should regained it in 10 to 14 days.
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 five months on 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.
Signs of faltering growth
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 signs to look out for yourself include:
Poor and erratic weight gain or no weight gain
Your baby is apathetic and cries weakly
Poor muscle tone and skin distension
Concentrated urine, a few times a day
Infrequent bowel movements
Your baby takes fewer than eight short breastfeeds a day.
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.
By clicking on the link, you will be leaving the official Royal Philips ("Philips") website. Any links to third-party websites that may appear on this site are provided only for your convenience and in no way represent any affiliation or endorsement of the information provided on those linked websites. Philips makes no representations or warranties of any kind with regard to any third-party websites or the information contained therein.