Feb 6, 2017

Dr. Gellner: As pediatricians, we often hear old wives' tales about cranky babies with feeding issues. What's behind these myths and what is sound advice? I'll tackle those on today's Scope. I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner.

Announcer: Remember that one thing that one person told you that one time about what you should or shouldn't do when raising your kids? Find out if it's true or not. This is "Debunking Old Wives' Tales" with Dr. Cindy Gellner on The Scope.

Dr. Gellner: "Babies who are cranky and don't sleep usually have gas, and the only way to get some relief is to change the formula." No! That can cause more issues. See, gas gets a bad rep. Many people think it's an evil condition that causes pain and misery, but the truth is, everyone produces gas in their large intestine because that's how bacteria processes what we eat. It's part of the digestive process, and if your baby is healthy, gaining weight, and pooping well, don't worry. It can cause some pain, but it shouldn't interfere with sleep issues.

Crying babies increase the air they swallow, and so they have more gas, and crying increases the passage of gas by forcefully contracting the abdominal muscles. So, unless your baby has a true allergy or intolerance to a component of the formula and needs a special formula, don't play the formula-changing game. Changing formulas too often can actually cause more digestive issues than they can help with.

Number two, "Colicky babies are very hungry and you've got to feed them more." Actually, feeding them more can make the problem worse. Overfeeding is not good. Many parents think that every time a baby cries, it must be from hunger, and that's just not true.

Feeding your baby may reduce the crying, but only for a short time before the whole colic cycle begins again. Then, these hungry babies are too full, and then they end up spitting up, and gaining weight too fast, and they may be fussy because they're overeating and bloated. Remember how you felt the last time you ate more than you should have? Full, overstuffed, uncomfortable and miserable.

Feeding a colicky baby less, like every three to four hours, rather than every one to two, will give them time for their stomachs to empty and their feedings to be digested. Everyone will feel much better.

So, if your baby is otherwise growing well, you really don't need to worry about their crying or their gas. If there are other feeding concerns, be sure to talk to your child's pediatrician about them and see if further investigation into these digestive issues is warranted.

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