Newborn Baby

Infant Digestion

How Do Infants Digest?

Infant digestion is completely different compared to an adults. In a healthy adult, they are equip with an abundance of digestive enzymes that aid in the breakdown of food to access essential nutrients. 

What are digestive enzymes? 

Enzymes are active proteins that are created in the body that help unlock the nutrients like vitamins and minerals in food (milk). 

Infants & their Digestion

Infants digestive processes are MUCH different. Baby's are born with a sterile and immature digestive system. They haven't had the need to digest in the womb since Mom did everything for baby. Mom passed all the nutrients the baby needed via umbilical cord.

So how do babies digest if they have immature digestive systems? 

Mom's Milk

Breastmilk is rich in bioactive properties which include enzymes. These enzymes pass through milk to support baby to digestion. This is why Mom's milk is pretty much 100% absorbable. 

Enzyme Production

Yes, infants have an immature digestive system, they still have a small amount of enzymes they produce. However, it is not enough on it's own which is way Mom's milk is made perfectly for an infant. 

Before talking about common infant discomforts, you should know...

These discomforts are not defined by your ability to Mother or your parenting skills.

Taking the steps to understand what is going on with your baby and figuring out how to help them truly shows the divine Mother you truly are.

-with love Marissa

Colic

DEFINITION:

Colic is defined as an infant crying for more then 3 hours of a day, 3 days of the week and for more then 3 weeks. Regardless, any amount of crying that is inconsolable is still upsetting to a Mama. 

Image by Anthony Tran

Does my baby have colic?

SYMPTOMS:

  • inconsolable crying

  • knees up

  • clenched fists

  • bloated belly

  • gassy

  • struggle to pass gas

  • wakes up from sleep in discomfort or pain

  • wakes up to pass gas

  • eyes closed then opened wide

  • holding breath

  • finding no comfort in being held

  • wants to be constantly held

  • struggles to stay asleep

  • sleeps for short periods of time 

Causes of Colic

Lack of good bacteria

Infants born via C-section or were exposed to antibiotics during pregnancy, birth, postpartum or given directly will have a lack of good bacteria in their body.

Stress on Vagus nerve

Infant can feel stress. They could have been exposed to stress in the womb or have had a stressful birth. A misaligned spine from being in the womb or from birth can be a cause of colic

Functional Lactose Overload

This can happen to both breast, bottle, and formula fed babies. Head over to the breastfeeding page to learn more about function lactose overload if you are breastfeeding your baby. If you are formula feeding your baby, head over to that section.

Reaction to formula

Formula fed infants have a hard time digesting formula since there are so many ingredients in there their bodies don't need. Vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates are also in the wrong form which overwhelms the body.

Reaction to Mom's milk

What ever Mama eats, it passes through her milk. Sometimes there are foods that can trigger colic and other reactions in infants. Head over to the breastfeeding page to learn more about the common foods and beverages.

Bacterial fermentation

This can happen with a lack of good bacteria and an overgrowth of opportunistic bacteria called Candida Albicans. This bacteria feeds off of sugar, ferments the sugar and creates gas and discomfort.

Okay, so I think my baby has colic... what can I do?

It is 100% possible to eliminate your infants colic for good. All you need to do is find the root of the problem.

Work with me virtually

Having that 1:1 guidance and step-by-step support from a professional can help you get to the root of the colic ASAP!

Click here to find out more about what you will get in your session(s) with me. (It's so worth it, it will blow your mind with how much you will get out of it!)

Can I do something in the mean time?

Yes! But remember these are only temporary and NOT meant to address the root cause of the colic...

Castor Oil Massage

One of my favourite temporary remedies to help eliminate gas is baby is struggle to pass gas. If gas isn't as issue for the baby, a castor oil massage may not be helpful.

Warm water bottle

Having a warm water bottle, wrapped in a towel and having the baby lay on their belly on your lap. This can help with soothing discomfort in their digestive tract.

Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies are a perfect temporarily relief for colic discomforts. Before trying herbs it is best to speak to your Nutritional or Herbal Practitioner to get the correct dosage and protocol for your baby.

The 5 S's

1. Swaddle

2. Shush

3. Side/stomach position

4. Sucking

5. Swing

REMEMBER THE SAFEST SLEEPING POSITION TO PREVENT SIDS IS ON THE BACK. 

Reflux

Reflux can be different in every infant and the cause of reflux varies from baby to baby. Infants are born with immature digestive and nervous systems.

Does my baby have reflux?

SYMPTOMS:

  • Spitting up after or in between burps 

  • Spitting up 1/2 their feeding or all of the feeding

  • congestion without a cold

  • abnormal arching of the back

  • projectile vomiting 

  • clenching fists

  • coughing or choking

  • hiccups

  • gagging

  • wheezing

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Causes of Reflux

Overfeeding

This happens only with bottle fed or formula fed babies. Breastfed babies can regulate their own intake of milk, With formula or bottle feeding, parents regulate the baby's intake. For more on overfeeding click here.

Reaction to formula

Just like colic, reflux can be a reaction to an ingredient in the formula. To find out the potential cause, it's best to work with a Holistic Practitioner for further guidance.

Reaction to Mom's milk

Foods and beverages Mom consumes passes through her milk to baby. Babies can react to something Mom is consuming. Head over to the breastfeeding section to find the common foods and beverage that cause reactions.

Not enough burps

Baby needs to be burped between every 1-2 ounces if being bottle fed. For breastfed babies they should be burped when they slow down their feeding or switching breasts. Babies need help with digesting the milk by burping them. 

Immature nervous system

Infants are born with an immature nervous system which can make it difficult for babies to digest. This can trigger reflux

Issue with Vagus nerve

Babies who have an issue with the Vagus nerve tend to experience constipation along with vomiting while straining to poop. This can be address by an Infant Chiropractor 

My baby has reflux, now what?

To eliminate the reflux for good, you must find out the ROOT cause of why baby is experiencing reflux. The root cause is the ultimate cause or causes of why the reflux is happening in the first place. 

Work with me virtually

Having that 1:1 guidance and step-by-step support from a professional can help you get to the root of the reflux ASAP!

Follow babies cues

This is mostly for babies who are overfed. Instead of following the clock, follow babies hunger and fullness cues. 

Keep baby upright

After feedings, keep baby upright for a minimum of 20-30 minutes to allow the milk to digest.

Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies can help soothe the discomfort from reflux and aid in the digestion process by keeping the valve between the esophagus and stomach closed. Consult a Holistic or Herbal Practitioner for correct dosages

Visit an Infant Chiropractor

If your baby is also struggling with constipation and vomits while straining to have a bowel movement, you may want to seek support from a Chiropractor who specializes in Infant care.

Constipation

This is defined as a lack of a bowel movement for several days or stool (poop) that looks like dry hard pebbles or rabbit poop. Constipation can be accompanied by straining to pass a stool or not.

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Is my baby constipated?

SYMPTOMS:

  • doesn't poop for a few days

  • poop looks dry and hard

  • poop looks like rabbit pebbles

  • straining or not straining

  • lack of appetite

  • struggling to pass a stool

  • crying when trying to poop

  • can have a little blood from straining

Causes of Constipation

Baby underfed

This can happen when baby isn't getting enough milk to eat. If you are a breastfeeding Mama, working with a International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) can help rule this out by checking the latch and suckling.

Baby overfed

When babies are overfed this can overwhelm the digestive system. Overfeeding can lead to taking a longer time for baby to digest, which slows the whole digestive process.

Reaction to formula 

Constipation can be a symptom of a reaction to an ingredient in the formula baby is drinking. The most common ingredient is the cow's milk but can be different for every infant.

Immature nervous system

Babies are born with an immature nervous system. As newborns they are still learning how to use their muscles. Sometimes they are pushing to poop with one set of muscles and stopping with another set.

Antibiotic use

Babies who have been exposed to antibiotics during pregnancy, birth, given directly or birthed via C-section can struggle with constipation. Good bacteria is needed for bowel movement stimulation (peristalsis).

My baby is struggling with constipation...

Addressing constipation is something that requires immediate attention. It is essential to find the root cause of the constipation.

Who can support me?

Work with me virtually

Having that 1:1 guidance and step-by-step support from a professional can help you get to the root of the constipation ASAP!

International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)

Infant Chiropractor

If baby is struggling with both constipation and reflux consulting a Chiropractor may be able to help.

If you are a breastfeeding Mama and your baby is under 2 months and is experiencing constipation, working with an IBCLC. 

Reach out to an IBCLC

If you are breastfeeding your babe reach out to an IBCLC. This can help eliminate the problem altogether.

Castor oil massage

A castor oil massage can help stimulate a bowel movement, but this isn't the answer to get rid of the constipation for good.

Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies can help stimulate a bowel movement if constipation is severe. Consult a Holistic or Herbal Practitioner for correct dosages

Visit an Infant Chiropractor

If your baby is also struggling with constipation and vomits while straining to have a bowel movement, you may want to seek support from a Chiropractor who specializes in Infant care.