In my last post, I talked about my quest to help my fussy baby which started with trying everything in my "bag of tricks," and ended with the seemingly miraculous discovery of gripe water...
Although the gripe water helped, it began to seem like more of a bandaid, than an actual "fix" to the problem. Gripe water helped when I gave it to him, but didn't have any lasting effects. He seemed to be having a particularly difficult time at either his 3 a.m. (ish) or 6 a.m. (ish) feeding. He would cry at the breast, make choking sounds, and generally "thrash around" in pain. Sometimes the gripe water would help to settle this when it happened, but it didn't prevent it from happening in the first place.
At this point, some memories started to make their way through my sleep deprived brain, and I recalled that these symptoms were quite reminiscent of symptoms experienced by my third child.
My third little one had fluid in his lungs in the hospital. It wasn't a big deal, but they did put him under a heat light and tell us to make sure the lay him on his side rather than on his back. It seemed to clear up before we left the hospital. However, after a few weeks at home, I noticed that he was making chocking sounds, as well as a straining sound (called strider) when I laid him down after (particularly a nighttime) feeding. I was concerned that this was related to the fluid in his lungs, so I took him to the pediatrician and she sent me to a specialist who performed an endoscopy on him.
The endoscopy was horrible! They had me hold him down while they shoved a tube- forcefully- down his throat. He screamed and screamed and all I wanted to do was scoop him up and get him out of there as fast as I could. My reward for putting my baby through all of this torture was a diagnosis of reflux and a perscription for "baby" Zantac. I left the hospital crying and apologizing to my baby.
Although I am not opposed to using medicines when they are necessary, I generally try to seek a natural solution first, so I called a natreopath/ nutritionist/ pharmacist who has a radio show in Pittsburgh who both my mother and I had consulted in the past. He made several suggestions which made a big impact:
He first asked me to look at my diet and cut out the two most likely offenders- chocolate and dairy. He also suggested that I hold the baby upright for 30 minutes after each feeding and that I take digestive enzymes and a probiotic. These changes made a huge difference, but required constant diligence. I could eat cheese, but if I drank even a little bit of milk, ate ice-cream, or indulged in a chocolate covered pretzel, his symptoms were much worse. If I "got lazy" and tried to lay him down before a whole half hour had passed, he would choke and gag and struggle.
It was this same choking and gagging that I was starting to notice with my newest little guy. I would lay him down at night and he would choke and gag and eventually cry. I'd pick him back up, rock him, calm him, maybe even feed him again, but then, when I'd lay him down, it would start all over again. My husband and I had some long nights before I realized that maybe he had reflux as well.
I cut the chocolate and dairy (mostly) out of my diet, started taking digestive enzymes and probiotics and started holding him upright for 30 minutes after eating. I also stopped changing his diaper after he ate- even if he really needed it. Unfortunately, if I laid him down, even for a minute or two, he would begin to "reflux" and it took a long time for him to recover from this. Laying flat on his back (particularly at night) was always a problem so we had him sleeping in an inclined bassinet. Sometimes he would still have a painful episode and I could usually calm him with some gripe water.
I was pulling out all of my tricks and they were (mostly) working- but he was still what I would call a "fussy" baby. My mom then reminded me that, in addition to taking probiotics myself, I also gave probiotics directly to my third child. I would open a capsule, wet my finger and then dip my finger in the powder and let the baby suck it off. This seems to be the final piece of the puzzle. Unlike the gripe water, it has a lasting and seemingly cumulative effect. I have even "cheated" and had a little bit of chocolate and was able to lay him down after only a few minutes of holding him upright.
Perhaps I have finally found my fussy baby cure, perhaps, at two months he has just finally reached a developmental milestone, or perhaps everything will change tomorrow... All I know is that I got 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep last night and woke up to a happy baby.
So, what does all of this have to do with teaching your kids to be good eaters? Check back next week when I will share some information I have found about a potential link between babies with reflux and future eating problems.
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