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Re: gas

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Posted by Rowena on October 17, 2003 at 22:05:03:

In Reply to: gas posted by Lyndsay on October 17, 2003 at 09:57:54:

Hi Lyndsay

Does your son pass excessive amounts of gas? Excessive would be passing gas more than 20 times per day. Most often parents are concerned their baby has gas because they pull up their legs up while crying. This is a reflex action for young babies and they will do it whenever they become distressed for whatever reason.

Is your baby thriving? If so this alone rules out many of the digestive problems. If your child does not other symptoms including wheezing coughing, rashes etc, this rules out allergic reactions to something you have eaten. One problem that can occur in healthy thriving breast fed babies under 3 months is 'lactose overload' due to frequent feeding patterns. This condition is commonly mistaken for lactose intolerance (an extremely rare condition in babies or chilren under the age of 4 years, except as a temporary condition for a few weeks following a bout of gastro-intestinal infection). Unlike lactose intolerance, where a child looses weight and is extremely unwell. The breast fed baby with lactose overload is healthy and thriving. Weaning a healthy thriving baby to a lactose free formula is unnecessary as simple feeding management can reduce gastic symptoms of excess gas and explosive watery bowel movements. You can find out more about this condition by typing in "breastfeeding lactose overload" into your search engines.

The most common reason for persistant crying in a healthy thriving baby is overstimulation and overtiredness. Where crying doesn't cause sleeplessness rather sleeplessness causes crying. A small number of babies with placid natures will sleep anywhere anytime but for the majority of babies it's not that simple. Because a baby is totally dependant, they rely on parents to pick up their cues of tiredness provide the conditions suitable for sleep. Because these tired signs are not the same as for a child or an adult they are often misinterpreted. Tired signs for a baby include: clenched fists, whinging and whining, pulling faces, jerking arm and legs movements (including pulling up legs). For such a young baby you would expect to see these signs within about 15 minutes following a feed. If these signs are ignored or misinterpreted for pain or hunger and the baby is kept up, the baby will become overtired and the result will be full on screaming. An overtired baby finds it very difficult to fall asleep.

Another thing parents are often not aware of is babies sleep in cycles lasting approx 20-40 minutes. Just because a baby has woken doesn't mean they have had enough sleep. At 3 weeks you would be looking at approx 16-18 hours sleep in a 24 hour period. That would mean your baby would need to sleep 2-3 sleep cycles (approx 1.5 to 2.5 hours) between every feed.

If a baby has learned to fall to sleep independently, they generally only wake lightly between sleep cycles and readily put themselves back sleep, waking fully when they have had enough sleep or when they are hungry for a feed. However if a baby has learned to depend on a parent to help them fall to sleep (this frequently includes breast feeding to sleep),this can then become a sleep association for the baby. In other words it's what they associates with falling to sleep. A baby or child with a sleep association is more likely to wake fully (and crying) after just one sleep cycle because they don't realise they can put themselves back to sleep without their sleep association (ie parents help). They will frequenly wake crying because they have not had enough sleep. Parents not understanding this, see the child has woken gets them up rather than resettle. The result by the end of the day is an extremely overtired baby (and mother). A baby with a sleep association with breast feeding will want to go to breast feed not only when they are hungry but also when they are tired - which can then lead to the problem of lactose overload.

Generally prior to 2 weeks of age babies sleep well. This is because they can put themselves back to sleep between sleep cycles. Parents often intentionally or unintentionally assist their baby to fall asleep and by the time a baby is 3 - 6 weeks of age they have learned to depend on parents help to go to sleep. The more often the baby fall asleep with parents help the more likley he/she will come depend on it this help.

I am not trying to imply that gas is not your baby's problem. Just to let you know that overstimulation and overtiredness are much more common causes of an infant's distress. I hope you find this information helpful.


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