Digestion issues in babies
I’m having a roll of lactose intolerance, reflux and cows milk protein intolerance in babies. So I thought it was about time to write a blog on this topic. I’m separating them as these are big issues and cows milk protein intolerance/allergy is up next.
What I have found interesting is the dearth of good research on this topic and I think that deserves a correction.
This is usually a temporary thing and lasts for anything from a few weeks to 12 weeks.
Foremilk (first part of the breastfeed) has lots of lactose. If you breastfeed frequently and baby snack feeds they get a lactose load. This causes a tummy ache, strips the gut, you feed more, experience more pain and it’s a vicious cycle.
If the baby has diarrhea or gastro that strips the gut of lactase and can take up to six weeks to replenish the lactase.
Most babies consume more lactase (the sugar in cows milk) than their little tummies have lactase (the enzyme needed to digest it). As the day goes on lactase gets depleted and their little bellies are sore and bloated and poos are often frothy. They have lots of wind and gas and are really uncomfy especially in the evenings. PullING their little legs up to their tummies they cry a lot. It can be really hard on the parent and the bub.
By 12 weeks the gut has matured and starts to catch up with the demand for the enzyme lactase.
How do you diagnose it?
A visit to your doctor / GP is a great idea because lactose intolerance can look like lots of other things. Babies poos and their tummies are very sensitive things!
To confirm lactose intolerance the baby would need to do a hydrogen breath test and send a sample of the poo for testing for the presence of reducing sugars. Easier said than done! Often a history alone is quite sufficient.
So what can you do?
If you’re breastfeeding you can express off the first bit of foremilk (about 10-15 mls / 0.3-0.5 fl oz) as this has more of the lactose.
If you have a fast breast milk flow that can make the wind or gas worse so think about your feeding position. Try a straddle position and feed baby upright with your back sloped in the chair.
Other things you can try
- Try and space feeds three hourly apart to give the gut a chance to replenish the enzyme.
- Try feeding one breast only at each feed to ensure a balance of foremilk and hindmilk. Offering the second side may increase the lactose load.
- Massaging baby’s tummy in a clockwise direction.
- Bicycling baby’s legs.
- Putting baby into a ‘C’ position to release gas.
- Some mums remove all cow milk dairy and soy from their diet – just make sure you replenish your calcium There is no research to prove this works but many mums vouch for it. So I think it deserves a serious look at.
- Babies that are formula fed can be tried on a lactose-free formula but breastfeeding mothers do not need to change to formula feeding unless under medical advice because the baby was unwell and not thriving and this is rare in lactose intolerance.
- You can purchase a lactase enzyme called Lacteeze (comes in drop form) which is added to expressed breast milk prior to a feed, preferably 20 minutes before. http://www.ausnaturalcare.com.au/lacteeze-drops?gclid=CjwKEAiAn7HEBRDHwNqitoWqsQcSJAADWmI2KJhCaa19uDfRkBtIWL5ONXTydp2xxRRwqMWaBleE7RoCcmPw_wcB
- It may also be beneficial to try the baby on a probiotic if the gut is very unsettled. Again these can be given as a powder or mixed with expressed breast milk
Some further reading
Watch my Youtube video below on how to manage wind/gas and colic in your newborn baby