Your newborn may experience difficulty settling down after eating and react by curling up, arching his back, crying or spitting up. Because these symptoms can be frustrating for both you and your baby, it is imperative to understand what can cause fussiness after mealtime and how you can remedy it.
Your baby can be fussy and refuse to settle down after eating if he suffers from colic, a condition in which your baby cries uncontrollably without any apparent cause. It can also be from a digestive problem such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, where the fluids and digested food come back up into your newborn’s throat. Discomfort from a cold or the flu can also trigger fussiness after feeding. A developing milk allergy, where your newborn’s immune system fights against the proteins in milk, can trigger pain and fussiness after mealtime.
Prop your baby upright in your arms while you feed him, so the milk travels easier to his stomach and air does not accumulate. Watch for your baby’s hunger cues, and feed him before he is extremely hungry so he doesn’t end up frantically gulping air with food. Burp your newborn every couple of minutes or in between breasts. Eliminate dairy products from your diet for a couple of days if you breastfeed to see if your baby’s fussiness subsides. A doctor may suggest that you switch to a soy formula if your baby is bottle-fed.
If acid reflux or GERD seems to be the cause for your baby’s fussiness after feedings, a doctor can prescribe a medication to control or eliminate stomach acid. Exercise your baby’s legs by placing him on his back and rotating his legs in a bicycling motion to help break up gas or move his bowels. Hold your baby or prop him in an upright position, such as in his carrier or swing, for about a half hour after feeding to help keep the stomach’s contents from coming back up.
See a doctor if your baby’s symptoms are extreme, if he is completely inconsolable, if fussiness occurs after every meal or he begins to projectile vomit. These symptoms could be the sign of a more serious complication such as a blockage of the intestines. This condition is extremely dangerous and may require surgical intervention. Fussiness, especially if it accompanied by lack of appetite, can lead to dehydration.