child development

Why We’re Trying Lactose Free Formula

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So as regular readers will know, Little Man has been having a lot of tummy trouble recently, and it’s just been getting worse. He’s really windy but struggles to get the wind out, and it’s been keeping him up at night and waking him up regularly when he does manage to sleep. He’s also had a bit of constipation, despite our efforts to keep him well hydrated. We’ve tried everything we can think of – changing his formula, using infant colic drops, making sure to burp him and wind him regularly, etc etc. But nothing seems to make much of a difference.

As a result, it’s been a tough few weeks, especially combined with his teething issues. Little Man has gone from sleeping through til about 3/4am and then having a slightly fitful sleep after that, to more or less having a fitful sleep through the whole night. Some nights I’ve been up with him much more often than every hour. So he’s been super grumpy, and to be honest, so have I!

So we went to the doctor’s and they recommended changing formula. As we’d already changed formula once, they suggested trying a lactose-free formula. Apparently if it does work, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Little Man is lactose intolerant, but the change might be helpful for him. I guess a lactose free formula is about as big a change as you can have!

So we’re crossing our fingers a) that it works, and b) that he’s not actually got a lactose intolerance! Apparently some babies develop temporary lactose intolerance after tummy upsets or if they were born prematurely, and it can be something they grow out of. Little Man did have some issues with some kind of tummy bug which really upset his stomach a while ago, so it’s not impossible that this could have caused a temporary intolerance which just hasn’t settled yet. I’ll keep you updated on our progress and how he gets on with his lactose free formula!

baby · child development · colic · parenting

Why Are Babies’ Digestive Systems So Utterly Useless?

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I can’t be the only parent who has looked at their beloved baby, covered in vomit at 4am after waking up crying because of trapped wind, and wondered… Why are babies born with such completely useless digestive systems? Are we the only mammal this bad at eating and pooping? Do baby monkeys get colic? And when will my child finally be able to get through a day without continuously leaking milk curds from the sides of his mouth like a pint-sized Vesuvius?

Reflux and Spitting Up

In young babies, the lower oesophageal sphincter, which separates the stomach from the oesophagus, is weak and immature, and consequently does a terrible job of keeping the contents of baby’s stomach where they’re supposed to be.

Additionally, it can take a while before baby’s stomach gets into the swing of it’s normal squeezing pattern, meaning that milk may sit in the stomach longer than normal.

The good news is that reflux should subside in around four to twelve months!

Painful Wind

Babies are rubbish at eating properly, so they take in a lot of air when feeding. Then because they just lie around like lazy little beached porpoises all day, they can’t easily eliminate the gas via the normal route of burps and farts.

Tiny bubbles of gas then cause pressure and stomach pain. And that causes very grumpy babies. Here’s the irony: crying babies also often take in excess air. Which causes gassy pain. Which causes more crying. You see where I’m going with this. It’s kind of a vicious cycle.

In theory, this should improve around 3 – 4 months of age, or when the baby starts rolling on his own, as this helps to get the gas out.

Tummy Upsets

Humans are supposed to have a (delightfully named) “digestive mucosal lining” or layer of mucous, which protects their digestive tract from microbes and other contaminants in food. In babies, this layer is thin and does a bad job at protecting their gastrointestinal tract from infection.

Weaning

Current recommendations are to avoid weaning babies until they are about six months old. Why? I found it really interesting to read about this:

  • Babies can’t produce digestive enzymes to digest starches until they’re six months old.
  • They don’t produce enough enzymes to digest complex carbohydrates until nearly seven months.
  • Their bile and lipase for digesting fats don’t reach full levels until six months.
  • Until about six months, babies’ guts allow large molecules to pass directly into the bloodstream. This is to allow antibodies from mum’s breastmilk to pass into baby’s blood. But it also allows larger molecules from solid food through, which could create a risk of infection or allergy.

Little Man has had a bad tummy ever since we got him home from hospital. I think a lot of it is due to him taking in air when he eats, because when he was in intensive care and then on the ward with me, we fed him through a naso-gastric tube, and he didn’t vomit as much or have anything like as much trouble with his tummy. Can’t wait until it all settles down, but it doesnt seem like it will be happening any time soon…

baby · child development · colic · parenting · sleeping · teething

It Takes A Village To Raise A Child: Thank You

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We’ve been having a pretty bad time the last couple of weeks with Little Man. He has long had bad trouble with wind that wakes him up at night and upsets him regularly. But his teething has now got really bad as well.

We’re currently struggling to feed him at all, because any time the bottle goes near his mouth, he goes through the roof, even with having given him Calpol and teething gel – which obviously we can’t give every feed. Plus it’s waking him up every 40 – 60 minutes throughout the night, so we’re seriously missing out on sleep as well, and thanks to lockdown we don’t have access to any external or family support that we would normally have. So it’s tough. And it means stressing that I’m not doing a good enough job… The classic mum guilt.

One thing that is really positive though is all the help that we’ve had from friends and family who have shared some great tips and ideas for things that might help. Ideas from using a teething glove, to freezing ice cubes out of formula to rub on sore gums, to trying herbal teething powders or teas, and trying the next year size up, have all come from our friends, family and colleagues. Even if they don’t all work, at least we can feel like we’re being proactive in how we’re trying to deal with it and help the poor little dude.

It’s especially appreciated at this time. Normally, I would be going to baby groups and socialising with other mums and chatting about what they do or what products they use, but I can’t do that at the moment thanks to the lockdown. It can feel really isolating. So I really want to thank everyone who’s taken the time to share their experiences and their advice. Not only is it really useful, but it makes me feel better to know that other people have had the same issues. When you’re stuck in the house with a crying baby who won’t eat or sleep, it’s easy to get worried about what is it isn’t normal. It really brings to mind the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child. We’re very lucky to have you all in our village.

So thank you, everyone. And thanks also to everyone who’s just checked in on us or let us have a rant or even sent a gift. These are weird and challenging times to have a new baby, as if having a baby wasn’t weird and challenging enough…

baby · parenting · sleeping

Baby Sleeping Better. Mama Sleeping Worse.

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When you have a baby, everyone always asks about their sleeping and how many feeds they need in the night. For quite a long time now, Little Man has had a feed around 2 – 3am and then not needed another until 7 – 8am. Sounds great! Except he has such bad tummy troubles that we get woken up regularly with those, instead of feeding. Usually he manages to get through to the 2am feed either without waking or with just one waking, but after that it’s frequent wakings through to the next feed, waking up crying and needing to be winded, burping, farting, and vomiting on us until he feels better and can go back to sleep.

Now the past couple of weeks, we’ve had what should, on the face of it, be an improvement. He’s not waking up crying with wind anything like as much as he used to. Instead he’s developed a weird habit of lifting both legs up in his sleep and slamming them down, which appears to be his own unique way of getting those farts out, and generally making fussy noises and wriggling… All while pretty much asleep.

Usually when this happens he doesn’t need anything more than me to pick up his dummy and maybe switch on his white noise owl (Ollie the Owl, a godsend gift from my lovely sister) for him to fall back into a deep sleep. But it’s often happening pretty much every twenty to forty minutes for several hours towards the end of the night, so I am constantly up and down with him and it is so tiring!

Plus to add insult to injury, his teething has got much worse lately – so often when he’s semi-awake like this, he starts chewing on one hand, and unless I intervene by taking away his hand, giving him his dummy and rubbing his belly until he goes back to sleep properly, he ends up waking up screaming because he’s bitten his hand too hard. Urgh. Sometimes I’m too slow getting to him and he’s already woken himself up a bit chewing on his hand, so then I have to hold him until he falls asleep and then attempt to transfer him into the cot without waking him up, which feels like a Krypton Factor challenge.

I’m hoping that to some extent, as far as his tummy goes, this is a good thing – a sign that his stomach is starting to improve, so his colic is lessening and he can get more wind out without needing our intervention, but from my perspective it’s definitely a case of things getting worse before they get better! Plus, once the teething is added into the mix, it’s absolutely exhausting. Fingers crossed things start to improve soon…

At the moment, I’m feeling like I’m Daytime Mum (stressed out, sleep-deprived) all around the clock and Evening Mum (relaxing in front of the telly with a glass of wine) never gets a look in… I’m also struggling to sleep myself, which I think is related to my post-partum thyroiditis as I seem to be finding it difficult to fall asleep even when I’m really tired. At this point, I’m willing to try pretty much anything to get some sleep, even trying some sleep aid products