Tips and Tricks to Help your Infant with Feeding Issues

Estimated Reading Time 5 Minutes

Did you know that many infants have some feeding issue?  So if your baby is experiencing fussiness, gas or frequent spit-up, you’re certainly not alone.  Feeding issues can occur whether you’re breastfeeding or formula-feeding.  They often happen because your baby’s digestive system is still developing, especially during his first 3 or 4 months.

Feeding issues can usually be addressed, but, the first step is to know what to look for.  It can be confusing because so many different situations share similar behaviours, including fussiness, gas, and extensive crying.  Spit-up, vomiting, and diarrhea can also overlap in both common and more serious feeding issues.

If your baby has a feeding issue, ask your baby’s doctor about some options to help your baby’s digestive system.  The doctor may even recommend an alternative formula.  Some formulas have been designed to help common feeding issues while still providing the nourishment your baby needs for healthy development. 

Changing Formulas

Babies have developing digestive systems, and sometimes they have feeding issues.  If you’re thinking about changing your baby’s formula, talk to your baby’s doctor.

Here are some things to consider when switching formulas:

  • You don’t have to introduce the new formula gradually by either alternating or combining it with the old formula-you can switch over to the new formula right away.
  • Mixing formulas is not recommended, because if your baby does not do well on a feeding, you won’t be able to tell which formula or ingredient is causing the problem.  Also, the formulas may not mix well.
  • Make sure you give your baby enough time to try the new formula, usually 3 to 5 days.  Some babies will adjust right away.  Others may have slight changes in stool pattern, gas, and/or spitting up until they become accustomed to the new formula.  If you have questions or concerns, check with your baby’s doctor.

Babies have developing digestive systems.  Some formulas are designed to be tummy friendly and easy to digest.   They contain a partially broken down milk protein and a reduced level of lactose.  They also contain DHA (a type of Omega-3 fat) and important building block of a baby’s rapidly developing brain.

Fussiness and Gas

When a baby is born, his digestive system is still maturing, and continues to develop over the first several months.  Because of this, you may experience a gassy or fussy baby.  It’s not unusual.  These symptoms may be the result of a feeding intolerance or sensitivity.

Another common cause for gas is swallowed air. This occurs when babies swallow large amounts of air while feeding or crying. If the air is not burped back up, it can become trapped in the digestive tract, making your baby really uncomfortable. Your baby’s stomach may look bloated or it may feel hard or tense to the touch. He may pull up his legs (or lock them out straight), clench his fists and pass gas.

Here are some tips to help ease your baby’s fussiness and gas:

  • Try burping him, in case he has air in his tummy.
  • Give him smaller and more frequent feedings.
  • Make each feeding as calm and relaxed as possible.
  • If your baby is swallowing too much air during feeding, check the nipple to see if it is clogged, or if he’s ready for a faster-flow nipple.
  • Also check the angle at which you’re holding the bottle during feeding. Always tip the bottle downward into your baby’s mouth at a 45° angle with the nipple full of milk, not air.
  • Avoid interruptions during feedings.


It’s not uncommon for babies to spit up occasionally as their digestive systems develop.  If you notice your baby spitting up, there is probably no need to worry.  It’s rarely a serious medical issue.  In fact, a baby who’s spitting up a lot, yet has no pain associated with spitting up and otherwise seems content is frequently called a happy spitter.

If his spit up continues, ask your doctor about switching to a commercially thickened (added rice) formula for the dietary management of babies with reflux.



Another challenge you may be facing with your baby is constipation.  At some time, almost all babies will seem to have difficulty passing stools.  So weird grunting noises and strained faces are normal.  But if your baby’s stools are infrequent, hard pellets, dry, painful and difficult to pass, talk to your baby’s doctor.  That also holds true if you see blood in the stool.  Every baby’s bowel movements are different so becoming familiar with what’s normal for your baby is the best way to tell if he’s having a problem.   Don’t judge whether your baby’s constipated by how frequently he poops.  Sometimes, infants may healthfully go several days without having a bowel movement.  Fewer bowel movements does not mean that your baby is constipated as long as the stools are soft and pain free.

Here are some helpful tips to help ease constipation:

Gently move your baby’s legs in a bicycling motion.

Rub your baby’s tummy gently in a clock-wise motion, 3-4 times per day.

Check to make sure your baby’s diaper is not on too tight.

For babies 6+ months of age:

If your baby is on a variety of solid foods, offer foods that are high in fibre such as whole grain breads and cereals, fruits like apples, berries or prunes, vegetables and legumes (beans, peas, lentils).  Just make sure they are at the right texture for your baby.

Gradually add higher fibre foods to your baby’s diet.

Offer extra fluids such as water.

Offer small amounts (maximum 60-125 mL or ¼-1/2 cup per day) of 100% juice such as prune, apple or pear. Always offer in a cup, and as part of a meal or snack.

If you have any concerns, consult with your baby’s doctor.


A baby has diarrhea if she has more bowel movements than usual, and if stools are less formed and more watery.  Sometimes babies with diarrhea have other symptoms, such as fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach pains, cramps, and blood and/or mucus in the bowel movement.  There are many different causes of diarrhea. The most common are viral infections.

Because infants who have diarrhea may become dehydrated, you should call your baby’s doctor who may recommend an electrolyte solution to keep her hydrated.

Diarrhea can also be a sign that your baby is having difficulty digesting lactose, the carbohydrate found in most milk-based formulas.  Some symptoms of lactose intolerance include gas, cramping, bloating or diarrhea.

Talk to your baby’s doctor.  He will be able to recommend a formula that provides similar nutrition of a milk-based formula without the lactose.  A formula designed to nourish and support the normal development of babies who are sensitive to lactose, containing DHA (a type of Omega-3 fat) and building block of your baby’s rapidly developing brain.                 

Diarrhea can also be a sign that your baby is allergic to cow’s milk protein.  Talk to your baby’s doctor.  If he thinks the diarrhea is due to cow’s milk protein allergy, he can recommend a hypoallergenic formula for the dietary management of cow’s milk protein allergy.


Most babies hiccup after meals, especially in the first few months. Hiccups aren’t necessarily a sign of tummy-aches or indigestion.


Try burping her, in case she has air in her tummy.



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