Hey Laura, what can I do for my infant’s digestive issues?
Dear Laura, my 2-week old daughter is projectile vomiting and is awake for about four hours a night in pain, what do I do?
This is very familiar territory for me, as a mom of two babies with food intolerances. Can I just say right off that I don’t buy the “Happy Spitter” theory? That if your baby vomits all the time but is gaining weight that it’s “A laundry issue, not a medical issue”?
If your baby’s body is rejecting sustenance, there is likely something wrong and long-term GI damage is most likely occurring.
Take action now and avoid prolonged health issues. Gut health is vitally important for immunity; many cases of allergies and asthma are rooted in poor gut health.
Eliminate the triggers!
My first advice to moms with “colicky” or super spitty babies (or any child with chronic ear infections!!!) is to eliminate dairy from the baby’s diet. This means switching to a non-dairy formula (and unfortunately, soy is almost as likely an allergen as dairy so this solution can get expensive with specialized formulas), or stop eating all dairy if you are nursing.
After you eliminate dairy, you should start seeing a reduction in symptoms in about 48 hours. Dairy takes about two full weeks to totally clear out of the system, so don’t expect a completely new baby until your fortnight is up. It helps to keep a food log to see if any other major reactions occur during this time.
If you don’t see a drastic improvement after two weeks, check your food log for patterns - did your baby have a majorly fussy night after you ate tomatoes (mine does, this time!)? Then start removing foods systematically from your diet as you note reactions. Here’s a helpful list of the most colic-causing foods in breastfed babies - a good place to start.
The projectile vomiting and wakefulness may not be your only food sensitivity symptoms. Here’s a list of symptoms from the extremely helpful breastfeeding info site, Kellymom.com.
Skin rashes (for example, a sandpaper-like raised red rash on the face), eczema, hives
Runny nose, stuffiness, constant cold-type symptoms
Red itchy eyes, swollen eyelids, dark circles under the eyes, constant tearing
Dennie-Morgan folds (an extra crease under the eye that makes the eyes look stressed)
Diarrhea, mucousy stools, intestinal upset
A red rash around the anus
Generally cranky behavior, fussiness, irritability, colic
Vomiting or increased spitting-up
Poor weight gain due to malabsorption of food
Kellymom also has an article on “Spitting up and Reflux in the Breastfed Baby”. Well-known pediatrition, Dr. Sears, has a comprehensive guide to “Tracking Down Food Allergies”, and should eliminating the Top Eight food allergens not see a significant enough decrease in symptoms to make life more manageable, I have a vast and personal knowledge of Dr. Sears’s Total Elimination Diet (referred to affectionately as “TED”). You’d be amazed at the variety of concoctions I’ve made with solely rice-based ingredients!
Probiotics & Enzymes
While you’re busy not eating trigger foods, there are things you can add to your situation that will help quite a bit. The L.Reuteri probiotic has been clinically shown to be more effective than gas drops for soothing colicky babies, and Bifidobacterium are some of the most important probiotics for babies to have in their guts. Right now, I’m using the Pharmax HLC High Potency Capsules. They are human-derived, whereas other probiotics are animal strains. If you’re trying to replenish flora in the human gut, it makes sense to do it with human gut flora, right? Yes!
Taking a full spectrum digestive enzyme can also help support the gut. I like this one from Beeyoutiful. Whichever you choose, make sure it does not include FOS (Fructooligosaccharides), sugars that aid the growth of bebificial bacteria, but can also cause gas and bloating.
Supplementing yourself will work if you’re breastfeeding, but you can also just dump a bit of the powder into your baby’s open mouth (that’s what I do - just nurse immediately so it gets swallowed down!). For older kids, you can put the powder in a bit of juice or water (or breastmilk or formula).
Cranial Sacral therapy
Particularly if you had a long, hard time pushing that baby out, cranial sacral therapy (the gentle readjustment of cranial bones) has been shown to reduce colic symptoms - inconsolable screaming, excessive gas, projectile vomiting, etc.
Homeopathy is regarded safe for any age, so it’s worth trying. Some individuals respond to it more readily than others. Here’s a list of symptoms with their remedies - most of which are commonly found at natural food stores (Whole Foods has a good selection). Keep in mind that pretty much all homeopathic remedies are suspended in lactose, so it’s up to you if you want to risk trace amounts of dairy during your elimination period!
If you do find that you’re dealing with extreme and multiple food intolerances, please read my postscript to the Gluten Free Beginner’s Guide. The alternative medicine treatments we have undertaken for our children have made all the difference in our quality of life as an MFPI family!
While I believe it is necessary to get at the root of your problems, there is nothing wrong with utilizing some of these products to ease the symptoms!
Baby’s Bliss Gripe Water - we used this a lot. I like this herbal formula better than the synthetic types.
Colic Calm All Natural Gripe Water - this one worked well for us, but we only had a little bit of it passed on from a cousin. It wasn’t so readily available as it is now! It includes charcoal, which is a proven digestive aid. It stains and it turns poop a funny color, so don’t freak out!
Hazelwood, worn against the skin, is a digestive aid. I have used the amber beads (for teething!) from Inspired by Finn and find the craftmanship to be superb.
I hope these help you and your baby to get some much needed rest and start enjoying life together!