So you want to know what is causing your baby’s discomfort, but it is so difficult to know what is the right thing to do to help your little one with the particular discomfort he/ she is experiencing. In the next couple of blogs we will be looking at certain questions and guidelines you can ask and follow to determine possible causes and treatments for common “tummy troubles”, and when to see a doctor.
A symptom checklist helps you to identify the specific symptoms that your baby is suffering from. Answering these sets of questions will bring you closer to determining if and how your baby is affected.
A very common problem many infants suffer from is colic. However, the cause of colic is multifactorial and is unknown. However, various suggestions have been made, including altered gastrointestinal function, food intolerance, low lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose often found in milk products) activity, cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA), reflux and intestinal microflora imbalance. While there is no clarity on how to treat colic, it is still very important that parents are able to cope with managing colic.
If we look at the definition of infantile colic, it was originally defined as crying lasting three or more hours a day, at least 3 days a week and for at least 3 weeks. It is also defined as episodes of irritability, fussing, or crying that begin and end for no apparent reason and lasts at least 3 hours a day, at least 3 days a week, for at least 1 week.
Bearing this in mind, if you suspect your baby to suffer from colic, it might be worthwhile to make use of the following symptoms checklist:
|Does your child suffer from eczema (patches of skin become rough and inflamed with blisters which cause itching and bleeding)?||Y/N|
|Are there any family history of atopy (a tendency to be “hyperallergic”, a person with atopy typically presents with one or more of the following eczema (atopic dermatitis), allergic rhinitis (hay fever), or allergic asthma)?||Y/N|
|Does your baby suffer from frequent reflux/ vomiting episodes?||Y/N|
|Does your baby have diarrhoea or a nappy rash?||Y/N|
|Does your baby suffer from gassiness and flatulence?||Y/N|
|Does your child have blood in the stools?||Y/N|
|Does your baby suffer from sneezing?||Y/N|
|Does your baby suffer from wheezing?||Y/N|
|Does your baby have breathing problems?||Y/N|
|Has your baby experienced a low or no weight gain?||Y/N|
|Does he/she suffer from extreme fussiness?||Y/N|
|Does your baby seem to arch his/ her back often?||Y/N|
Did you answer yes or no to these questions?
In the event that none of these symptoms are present (you answered no to all of these questions), the feeding technique should be evaluated: is the correct formula: water ratio used, is the water at the correct temperature when mixing the formula, is baby fed the correct volumes etc. Parents and caregivers should also be aware of how to identify signs of hunger and tiredness and how they can offer their infant structure and routine in a calm environment. Also to remember that a parent/ caregiver’s anxiety levels, signs of depression and the risk of child abuse can all play a role in causing similar signs of a colicky (crying) baby.
However, if you answered yes to some of these questions, suggestions of dietary management or changes can be made. As we know, breastfeeding mothers should always be advised to continue doing so. However, if baby is formula-fed one could consider using different type of formulas, depending on the type of symptoms present.
What if the majority of symptoms were under the “GUT” and “OTHER” category?
Consider using a formula in which the lactose has been decreased. An example of such a product is: Novalac AC. Based on experience, but not evidence, partially hydrolysed formulas (commonly referred to as HA formulas) can be a useful option when extensive hydrolysate would be too expensive, and CMPA is not a potential cause of infant colic.
What if the majority of symptoms were under the “GUT”, “SKIN” and “RESPIRATORY” category?
In such cases there might be reasons to consider a CMPA. In such cases, breast feeding mothers should avoid cow’s milk proteins for a minimum of 2 weeks. In formula-fed infants, eliminating cow’s milk protein from the diet and replacing it with an extensively hydrolysed protein formula has been shown to be an effective treatment in babies with infant colic due to CMPA.
Infants presenting with functional gastrointestinal problems often go through a series of unnecessary investigations and medical treatments. This practical symptom checklist can help you as a parent or caregiver to establish the cause of the problem at hand. However, it is very important to discuss the results/ answers of these questions with your little one’s doctor to ensure that you get the most relevant treatment possible.
Disclaimer: This post has not been sponsored or paid for. Breast milk is the best food for infants. Good maternal nutrition is essential to prepare and maintain breastfeeding. If breastfeeding is not applied, an infant formula may be used according to health professionals’ advice. Preparation and storage of any infant formula should be performed as directed on the tin in order not to pose any health hazards.