Baby crying after feeding might be one of your most searched terms, but it’s not as uncommon as you might think. There are a few reasons why your baby is crying after feeding, and it is usually not something that you need to worry about.
If your baby is crying after feeding, you might have noticed some other signs they are in discomfort too. These may include:
– Distended tummy – Most after-feeding upset is related to trapped gas in the digestive system. This often shows as a swollen, or hardened tummy.
– Pained cries – Your baby might cry after feeding more often during the evening feeds, and you’ll recognise it as a more pained cry than their usual cries.
– Pulling up or stretching out their legs – You might notice your little one pulling their legs up towards their tummy or stretching them out rigidly. This is often a sign of abdominal distress.
So, what are the most common causes of babies crying after feeding?
Colic is one of the most common causes of a baby crying after feeding. There’s no diagnosable cause for colic – basically, it’s just one of those things, but, as colicky babies cry for at least three hours a day, for three days a week at a minimum for at least 1 week, it can be distressing for a parent. Although it is nerve-wracking, be reassured that around half of all colicky babies outgrow it by three to four months old. Things like feeding your little one in a more upright position can help ease the symptoms, but colicky babies frequently need to be held and comforted more often.
Acid reflux is another very common cause of crying during and after feeding. In fact, it affects nearly half of all babies, with at least 4 in 10 experiencing reflux within their first year. Reflux is when a baby regularly brings up milk during or shortly after feeding. It can vary in severity, from relatively mild to more severe, long-term symptoms, that may be signs of Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD). Some children suffer from reflux or GORD because the digestive system isn’t developed fully, and that can mean that it’s not working as it would at full development. This problem can often resolve itself as your little one grows. For 90% of babies, GORD will have resolved by their first birthday. However, some children may need a more long-term treatment plan with a paediatric specialist.
Your little one is still developing basic skills, both externally, and internally. Added to that, sometimes babies can swallow a little air whilst feeding, but then their bodies aren’t able to process the air through their digestive system. This means that the trapped gas can cause pressure, and a distended tummy, which are uncomfortable and painful. There are a few things that you can do to help reduce the air intake when your little one feeds, and to help them pass gas.
– Feed in an upright position – Feeding in a more upright position can reduce the amount of air your little one takes in. You should try to keep your baby upright for 20 to 30 minutes after eating too.
– Frequent burping – Burping can help get rid of the gas in your little one’s system. Some babies will have one big burp, while other may need to burp more.
– Cycle their legs – Some babies with tummy distension and swelling can get comfort from cycling their legs. Just move the legs gently as if they’re riding a bike.
– Don’t put them down to sleep immediately after eating – Leave at least 20 minutes between the end of the feed and putting your little one down for a sleep.
– Watch what you eat – If you’re nursing, what you eat can impact your little one. Some foods are known to be difficult for babies to process as it comes through the breastmilk. Keep a food diary to see if there are any foods that you’re eating that are making things difficult for your baby.
– Bottle teats – If you’re bottle feeding, the teat you use can impact your little one’s gas. Consider changing to a slow-flow teat to reduce the air intake.
Sometimes a baby might cry after feeding because of food sensitivities or allergies. If you’re nursing, it could be that your little one is sensitive or allergic to something you’re eating. If you’re formula feeding, it could mean that it’s the formula that you’re giving your baby which is causing the issue. You should also look out for other symptoms which occur within a few minutes of exposure to the allergen:
– A runny or blocked nose
– Red, itchy, watery eyes
– Wheezing and coughing
– A red, itchy rash
– Worsening of asthma or eczema symptoms
You should also look out for hives, rashes, vomiting, diarrhoea and facial or tongue swelling.
If you have any concerns seek medical advice from your GP or healthcare professional.
Most babies begin teething at around 6 months, but others start teething before they are 4 months old and some after 12 months.
Teething can be distressing for babies, but there are a few things that you can do to help:
– Teething rings: These can be cooled in the fridge which can help to soothe your baby’s gums and are safe for your baby to chew on as a distraction
– Comforting: Comforting and playing with your baby can be a simple way to entertain and distract them from any pain in their gums. You can also try softly rubbing their gums with clean fingers.