Hunger is one of the primary reasons that a baby cries. But what if the baby cries even after being fed?
Babies crying after feeding is one thing that confuses most parents. Is it the milk or formula that is causing the discomfort? Is the baby not satiated or is there not enough breast milk?
These questions can boggle most new moms. If you have such questions on your mind too, then read this MomJunction article for answers and information about why a baby may cry after a feed and how you can prevent it from happening.
Why Does A Baby Cry After Feeding?
There is no single reason why a baby may cry right after a feed. The following are the most likely reasons:
- Acid reflux: Acid reflux is a common occurrence during infancy, and the condition can happen in one among five infants (1). Reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not close properly, thus allowing a few stomach contents and acid to move all the way up to the mouth.
If the reflux is persistent, then it could indicate gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. One of the symptoms of GERD is crying during and after feed due to the irritation caused by the regurgitated stomach acid (2).
- Gas: Excessive gas in the stomach can cause abdominal discomfort leading to crying after each feed.
- Colic: The condition is defined as ‘three hours of crying for at least three days a week’ (3). Colic can be due to any of the several underlying reasons including gas. Colicky babies may start crying abruptly after a feed.
- Teething: Teething infants may constantly have sore gums, which can hurt during a feed (4). It can make them irritable and also make them cry during and after feeding.
- Allergies and intolerance: A baby could be allergic to milk or have lactose intolerance. Allergies can cause symptoms like the development of rashes, vomiting, and upset tummy. It can cause abdominal cramps and also make the baby feel gassy and irritable (5).
Infants may also be allergic to breast milk in case the of galactosemia, which is an inability to digest a form of milk sugar called galactose that is also found in breast milk (6).
Knowing how to handle the situation can be helpful if the baby tends to cry too often after every feed.
What To Do When The Baby Cries After A Feed?
If your baby begins to cry after a feed, then you can try the following remedies:
- Let the baby burp between and after feeds. Hold the infant in your arms with their head resting on your shoulder. Gently tap between their shoulder blades, which is right at the center of the upper back, until you hear a burp. Place a towel on your shoulder since infants normally regurgitate a small quantity of stomach contents along with a burp.
- Give a break in feeding, especially in the case of infants that have acid reflux. Stop the feed for a few minutes before resuming. It can give the baby’s stomach contents some time to settle and prevent the baby from regurgitating the acid.
- Change formula if you suspect it’s the culprit. Observe the baby after each feed to know if it is suiting them. Always try more than one formula for your baby and get the one that works the best.
- If your baby is teething, then give them a teething toy before feeds to ease the gum irritation. Use only toys that are exclusively meant for teething and not just a random object for the baby gnaw at.
- Gentle tummy massage can be helpful if you suspect the baby to be gassy. Use the index and middle finger to make gentle circular motions around the belly button. It will allow for the smooth passage of the gas through the gastrointestinal tract (7).
- Tummy time and basic exercises are an excellent way to improve the muscular dexterity of the infant while also providing enough tummy pressure to allow any gas to pass through. You can also perform basic exercises like make the baby lie on their back and move their legs in a cycling motion.
Another activity is to bend their legs such that their knee touches their abdomen. These exercises have been proven to relieve the baby of gas, which can be one of the factors making them fussy and cry after a feed.
These remedies should help you prevent the baby from crying after a feed. However, it is best to see a doctor in some situations.
When to see a doctor:
Get the baby checked by a pediatrician if the baby cries after feeding and displays the following symptoms too:
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Abdominal bloating
- Poor height and weight gain
- Swelling of face and throat muscles
- Blood in stools
- Extreme lethargy and drowsiness
These could be the signs of some underlying health problem. Your baby’s doctor can diagnose these by assessing the symptoms and also through diagnostic testing of blood and stool.
Is There A Treatment For A Baby’s Crying After A Feed?
Yes. The treatment depends on what is causing the baby to cry after having a feed. The following are the three common means of curing the problem:
- Change in diet: Conditions like allergy and intolerance last forever. Your doctor will tell you ways to manage the condition through the use of alternative foods like soy formula and hydrolyzed milk formula (8). The baby has to avoid milk and other dairy products too once they are old. Switching to another brand of formula is also a method.
- Change in feeding style: The baby may cry after a feed due to excessive ingestion of gas caused by a poor latch to the breast or bottle nipple. A doctor or lactation expert can help you determine it and suggest the best way to feed your baby.
- Medication: Some conditions like gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) may require the infant to have medications. Medicines and the course of treatment will entirely depend on the severity of the problem.
Infants seldom need any treatment when they cry after a feed. Some home prevention methods are probably all that you need.
How To Prevent Babies From Crying After Feeding?
If the cause of the baby’s crying is an underlying health problem, then treatment will aim at treating that and preventing it in the future. But in most cases, the following steps will help you prevent the baby from crying after feeding.
- Choose to breastfeed: Breastfeeding your baby instead of giving them the formula is probably the best decision for your baby’s health. Medical experts state that breastfeeding can help prevent colic and other abdominal problems that cause discomfort and make the baby cry even after feeding (9).
- Use slow flow bottle nipple: Slow flow nipples do precisely that – slow down the flow of milk into the baby’s mouth. Pediatric experts also recommend slow flow nipples over other ones as that can prevent conditions like gassiness and acid reflux, which can make a baby cry after a feed (10).
- Change bottle feeding methods: Use the paced bottle feeding method wherein you hold the baby vertically and place the bottle horizontally in their mouth. You tilt the bottle gently, letting the baby suck the milk. A few minutes later you tip the bottle downwards, causing the milk to flow away from the nipple.
You resume feeding only when the baby makes the sucking noises. This puts your baby in control of how much milk they drink and prevents overfeeding (11). Overfeeding can cause gassiness, abdominal discomfort, and even reflux in babies who already have gastroesophageal reflux disease. These conditions, in turn, can cause a baby to cry after a feed.
- Regular burping and exercises: Make burping and exercising your baby a part of the feeding regime to keep the crying away.
The key is to find out what is making the baby cry after feeding and prevent it or manage it to soothe the baby. A few changes in your feeding style and techniques eventually can go a long way in preventing your baby from bursting into tears after every feed.
Did your baby cry after feeding too? How did you deal with it? Share with us your thoughts in the comment section below.
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