Your babys digestive system is immature and develops slowly. It is important to understand the digestive health of your baby for her wellbeing. Continue reading on how the digestive system grows and what common problems you could notice during the initial few months of your babys life.
Last Updated: 23 October 2020
Your baby’s intestine starts to develop during the 5th week of pregnancy. The digestive system starts its functions during the third month of fetal development when the fetus stomach cells start to secrete fluid. Waste that is generated from the fetus goes through the placenta and into the mother’s blood.
At birth, your baby’s digestive system is developing and it takes almost a year for the system to mature. The enzymes and the bacteria that are necessary to breakdown and digest the sugar, proteins and fats in the food are produced gradually. For the initial six months, breast milk and formula milk provide the greatest source of nutrients to your baby. The proteins in the breast milk are easily digestible and human milk contains an enzyme called lipase that breaks down the fats. Breast milk not only boosts immunity and introduce good bacteria in newborn’s gastrointestinal tract but also keeps the digestive health in good condition.
After six months, the digestive system is little mature to digest solid foods. The gut microfloras that are established during the first two years of your infant’s life are critical for her long term immunity. If the digestive system is poor, your child’s growth and development gets affected.Digestive Problems Vomiting
Spitting up milk is common in newborns which are due to immature sphincter muscles between the stomach and the esophagus. Spitting large amounts of milk can be a sign of any problem. Overfeeding or intolerance to formula milk can be the cause of vomiting in formula fed babies. The other causes of vomiting are viral infection in the intestinal tract and malformation of the digestive tract.
If your child is vomiting forcefully, has green bile or blood during vomiting or becomes lethargic, take the help of a pediatrician in solving the issue. Offer your child electrolyte solution to prevent dehydration.Reflux
Some babies may experience constant spit up during most feedings. This is because stomach contents back up into the esophagus which is termed as reflux. This condition can disappear during 4 to 12 months of your infant’s age. Sometimes you can notice the following problems.
Poor feeding: Babies may lose appetite and act irritable because of burning and irritation of the esophagus. Babies with these symptoms tend to arch and pull off the nipple soon after starting a feeding.
Frequent hiccups: Infants with reflux have more number of hiccups than babies who are normal. This is due to the extra air in his stomach and by the spasms of his esophagus irritated by refluxed stomach acid.
Congestion and breathing problems: Sometimes babies may cough, wheeze and have congestion due to the irritation in the upper airways that is due to acid reflux.
You can try the following to relieve babies from reflux.
1. Small amount of feed and feeding slowly
2. Handle your baby gently during feeding and burp your baby often during feedings.
3. After feeding, hold your baby in an upright position for at least 30 minutes
A bowel movement that is watery and more frequent indicates diarrhea. Rotavirus can cause diarrhea in kids during 6 to 24 months of age. Sometimes diarrhea could be due to milk allergy. If you notice blood in your baby’s stools, contact a pediatrician immediately.
Constipation or hard stools is noticed when a baby starts eating solid foods or when they are put on whole milk diet. Try changing the food pattern to solve the issue.Solid foods
Once you start solid foods during the six month, the colour, odour and frequency of your baby’ stool may change which is normal and nothing to worry about. Start one food at a time and then gradually add another to see the changes.
If your child’s digestive system functions properly, he gets the right nutrition which aids in proper physical and cognitive development.