Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your infant, it does not always come naturally, something that often comes as a surprise to new parents. Below are several common problems that you may come across when feeding your infant, along with some possible causes and solutions. However, you should always seek advice from your GP or health visitor if you have any concerns about your baby not getting enough food or if you think there are any worrying symptoms linked to your baby's feedings. With perseverance, most infant feeding issues can be overcome – some easier than others and sometimes with the help of a healthcare professional.
Baby often brings up milk
- Young babies often bring up small amounts of milk, which is known as possetting. They should outgrow this when the sphincter (a type of muscular valve) at the end of their oesophagus (food pipe) becomes strong enough to keep food in the stomach. Until then, a muslin cloth is useful for catching milk brought up after feeding, especially when burping.
- If your baby brings up their stomach's contents, he or she might have reflux, which usually disappears by about 12 months. Other symptoms include refusing to feed, crying and a cough. To help reduce the symptoms of reflux, give smaller feeds more often so your baby's tummy doesn't get too full, hold your baby upright for 30 minutes after feeding and avoid putting your baby in tight clothes, especially around the tummy. If you bottle-feed, make sure the holes in the teats are not so big that the milk flows through too quickly.
- Severe long-term reflux with a failure to put on weight and breathing problems could indicate gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).
If you are worried that your baby has reflux or GORD, ask your doctor or health visitor for advice.
If your baby is bringing up more milk over the course of a few days and there is forceful vomiting and your baby cannot keep any milk down, seek medical advice immediately or take the baby to an A&E department.
Baby falls asleep soon after starting to feed
- This is typical in young babies, who will stay more awake as they get older. You can try tickling your baby under the chin or feet to keep him or her awake. If you are breastfeeding, try switching sides more frequently.
- Breastfeeding babies may fall asleep while nursing if they are struggling to latch on. Try to reposition your baby and get him or her to latch on properly, following the breastfeeding basics or asking your health visitor for advice.
If you are concerned that your baby is not gaining enough weight, talk to your health visitor or GP, who can check your baby's growth and weight gain.