A parent or caregiver usually can tell when a child is in pain or uncomfortable. Sometimes with babies, it is a little more difficult to distinguish regular fusses from when an infant is experiencing some level of pain. But that inability to distinguish pain from grumpiness does not make the infant's pain any less important. In fact, infants experiencing pain can be the warning signs for a serious issue that may need to be treated by a doctor. Thankfully for most babies, pain is usually caused by something simple that can be easily remedied by their parents so long as parents pay attention to the baby's cues.
Paying attention to a baby’s cues are easier said than done. Sometimes parents will just have to cycle through a set of activities, until a child calms down, to find out what will soothe the baby’s pain. If a baby is ever unable to be soothed the parents should obviously consult their pediatrician since that could be a sign of a more serious problem than just a tight tummy. Thankfully though most things causing infant pain do not require medical attention, and those are the pains, this article will review as well as the ways to treat the particular infant pain.
14 Sign: Can’t Be Soothed
Babies cry, fuss, and get angry just like adults, however unlike adults babies don’t usually hold a grudge about it. The issue when babies are unable to be soothed is people can’t just ask them what is wrong, and what they need to feel better. Parents and caregivers simply have to look for their cues and try to unlock the codes of why baby is upset.
Figuring out why baby is inconsolable is easy sometimes, and other times it presents quite a challenge. First, mom must figure out what qualifies as unable to be soothed. Unfortunately, this varies baby to baby. For instance, some babies crying on and off for 30 minutes might seem inconsolable whereas for another baby crying for 20 minutes with no breaks may seem very out of character and concerning. Unfortunately, some parents may think their infant is just colicky, but if an infant is often inconsolable the best thing to do is head to the doctor and talk it over with an expert.
Another tip for any time a baby is exceptionally fussy is to do a visual exam to make sure they aren't in pain that can be easily remedied. Look at eyes for anything in them, toes fingers wrists and ankles for any little hairs wrapped around causing circulation issues (this is quite common but serious), and obviously look in their mouth for any teething issues.
13 Treatment: Skin To Skin
Soothing a baby is not always an easy task - this is exceptionally true if baby happens to be not only fussy but in pain as well. One of the ways in which babies experience pain is by being unable to regulate their temperature well and getting too cold too easily. If an infant gets cold their fingers and toes could start to hurt.
To ease pain caused by a variety of ailments including being too cold, skin to skin contact is extremely beneficial. Being directly on their mother's skin can not only help an infant warm up but the sounds and motion coming from mom is soothing to the infant who got so used to it in utero. It is just like when an adult has a cold or is feeling achy, cuddling can help to inexplicably ease their ailments. For skin to skin contact mom or dad can take off their shirt and the infant's, and wrap them both in a blanket or they can even buy specialized kangaroo shirts where the infant goes into it just like a baby kangaroo.
12 Sign: Cluster Feeding
Cluster feeding is difficult. Cluster feeding is when a baby suddenly wants to eat all the time but only a few minutes at a time. It usually coincides with the baby being extremely fussy. It occurs with breast and bottle fed babies though with higher rates in breastfed infants. So what is causing this cluster feeding? Often times the need for comfort.
When infants cluster feed it is usually because they aren't feeling well. Sometimes it could be they are hungry and then get in pain possibly caused by indigestion while eating, and so they stop eating because they are in pain from what is basically heartburn. Other times it could be caused because they are achy or sore and want comfort from being held and fed but then they realize they aren't, in fact, hungry.
11 Treatment: Comfort Food
Comfort food is amazing. Comfort food eases a variety of ailments for adults. That is why so many people will make casseroles and other foods for a person who’s loved ones have passed away. Food just soothes even when a person may not be hungry. Or maybe an adult is stressed and just wants a good piece of bread and a nice salad to get their mind off of their current issues. Whatever the reason is, pain somehow seems to be alleviated by eating sometimes.
Food soothes infants even if they are in pain. In fact, if an infant has bad constipation and doesn't feel like eating, having a bottle could still be beneficial to help things move through their system and ease constipation. Sucking can help clear ear infections too so a good feeding can help ease the longevity of an ear infection. Or perhaps the infant just needs to be distracted from the pain they are in and a good meal could be just the key for that.
10 Sign: Moving Differently Or Constantly
Babies wiggle all the time, it seems like even while sleeping sometimes. Wiggling is great for an infant's development and the key to proper development. First, they learn to move their heads and hold it up for short periods of time and then they move to rolling and then the infants move onto crawling and before their parents know it, they suddenly have a walking baby getting into everything. However, sometimes some wiggles can be a sign of something more serious like infant pain.
So how is a parent supposed to distinguish normal wiggling from pain movement? It’s actually quite easy most of the time. A parent can distinguish the two by asking, is the baby trying to accomplish something? Does baby look like he's trying to reach a toy or roll over? If so, baby is probably just wiggling to get to something. If baby doesn’t appear to be trying to accomplish something (even if he doesn’t know what it is) and instead is just constantly wiggling and seems uncomfortable in every way, that could be a sign of infant pain.
9 Treatment: Change Positioning
During a long road trip, legs and backs get sore and uncomfortable even though they aren't necessarily in any kind of use. Part of the uncomfortableness is caused by a degree of pain from staying in the same position for so long. Babies can't really do much for themselves especially in the first few months. During those first few months of life outside the uterus, the baby will feel discomfort and even a little pain from being stuck in the same position in their crib or car seat.
One of the best ways to ease infant pain is by picking up the baby. This works because it changes their position which they can hardly do for themselves. Sometimes a baby may not want to lay on their back anymore but that is the only safe way for an infant to sleep in a crib. Therefore picking baby up in the upright position or giving him tummy time may be key to relieving pain and discomfort.
8 Sign: Pulling Ears
Infants do all kinds of adorable things. They blow little spit bubbles, talk gibberish, they even play with their own hair. An issue arises with this cute behavior sometimes, though. For instance, if an infant is constantly grabbing at the same spot and seems upset or angry, it could be a sign of pain that needs to be addressed.
One of the most common ailments in infants, toddlers, and young children is ear infections. Ear infections can be caused by improperly cleaning the ear (sticking a q-tip in too far), feedings in the wrong position, or even from nasal drainage during a common cold. Knowing a baby has an ear infection is difficult because the baby obviously can't tell their parents, however there are key signs to look for to see if an infant may have an ear infection. For example, if a baby is suddenly pulling on their ears constantly there is a good chance they have an ear infection that is causing them pain. Another tell-tale sign of an infant ear infection is instant fussing as soon as the baby is laid down since the pressure change from a change of position can cause more ear pain.
7 Treatment: Infant Massage
Prenatal massage is fabulous. Ask any expectant mother if she would like a good massage from her partner or at a spa, and chances are she will say yes with extreme excitement. At races after the race is over, they often have free massages for the runners. So what do runners, expectant moms, and infants have in common? They all get sore and love a good massage.
Infant massage will help to relieve pressure points from babies laying so many hours out of the day. These massages can also help to relieve constipation and stimulate better blood flow which could relieve headaches, too. However, before any caregivers decide it's a good idea to take the baby to the spa for a hot stone massage it is important to understand that infant massage is very different than an adult massage. For babies, massage pressure should always be extremely light and caregivers should never try to "manipulate" muscles which are a common technique for an adult massage. Part of the reasons infant massage relieves pain for infants is because it involves attention and love from parents which infants naturally crave.
6 Sign: Can’t Be Satisfied
Babies are basically the boss of any household in which they reside. Some newly expectant parents out there might disagree. The seasoned parents out there, however, know this is true. Babies decide when bedtime is, dinner time, and pretty much everything related to scheduling. Sure parents eventually teach children to follow their rules and schedule but at first, infants need a ton of care and they need it all day so schedules are completely disrupted.
Babies are known to be insatiable in pretty much everything they do but after the first few weeks, parents get an idea of their needs. If those normal things that soothe baby are suddenly not working, it could be a sign of pain. If mom has tried holding, feeding, and changing a baby and yet their fussiness persists, there is a good chance baby is in pain that may require more intervention than the usual.
5 Treatment: Help Baby Wiggle
When adults are constantly in physical pain, one of the first things doctors may ask about is if they get enough exercise. Exercise stretches muscles, increases blood flow, and aids digestion. Exercise even helps heart and lungs feel and function well. That is why doctors ask about a patient’s level of activity since poor fitness can contribute to pain, and it can even contribute to clinical depression symptoms.
Babies are so much like adults and yet adults forget this very regularly and treat infants as though they are another species. Babies will benefit from moving and getting a little exercise just like adults will. Giving an infant tummy time can relieve backaches and even help baby to relieve gas bubbles by burping. While baby may not always want to do tummy time or leg wiggles while they are in pain, a few minutes of laying on their tummy or their mom wiggles their legs in a running motion can instantly relieve infant pain.
4 Sign: Tight Or Hard Tummy
Everyone knows that feeling of bloating after a large meal, especially holiday meals. However, there are many causes of bloating aside from overeating. Some other causes of bloating are constipation, improper diet (i.e. lots of carbonated beverages). There are also other causes of bloating that may need to be addressed with a doctor.
Babies are just like adults in that they too experience tight bloated stomachs. For infants, many of the causes are the same as are for adults and can cause pain. If a caregiver notices baby has a tight tummy, he or she should take action because chances are the sensation is causing baby pain. Baby may need to be burped or may even need a tummy rub to help stimulate a bowel movement. While a tight tummy may just mean the baby had a big meal it should be taken note of as a potential cause for pain especially if the child is acting irritable.
3 Treatment: Pain Relievers
There are a variety of pain relievers for baby ailments just like for adults, for example, like menstrual cramps, muscle aches, headaches and much more. In fact, some doctors will even recommend that patients take medicine before they feel pain if they know it is coming like with menstrual cycles. While preemptive medicine is no longer recommended for infant shots, or really anything else, medication after pain has started is still sometimes necessary.
Infants may be quite similar to adults but their medication is quite different and it is important to remember that. Never give an infant or child adult medication - their bodies cannot handle it the way an adult's can. However, thankfully there is special infant Tylenol that can help to relieve pain after other more natural measures have been taken to reduce the infant's discomfort. As another positive note, it's usually not difficult to get an infant to take medication since they often will suckle on pretty much anything and they even make special pacifiers that medicine can be placed into.
2 Sign: Red-Faced And Irritable
People have heard of the phrase "red in the face" - it implies that the person is angry. In infants, a red face can certainly imply anger. However, with infants as opposed to adults, a red face could be caused because they are angry, they are in pain that isn't being relieved. Many things can make an infant angry that aren't causing pain, but if they are irritable and red-faced it could be that something is truly causing them pain.
If a mom notices her baby is red-faced and seems generally grumpy she should look for signs that baby is in pain. It could be the baby simply has gas and needs to be burped to feel relief from pain, or it could be that they are uncomfortable in their current position and require a little parental assistance to change position and feel better.
1 Treatment: Trip To The Doctor
Doctors are experts when it comes to health. The human body is designed in a very confusing way and often symptoms could be attributed to ten different ailments. That's why doctors are often consulted when a person can’t get over an illness or has a pain that won’t go away.
When it comes to infant pain no parent or caregiver should ever allow the pain to persist for too long especially in regards to newborns. Some parents may blame a fussy infant on colic when in reality the baby may have pain caused by something that needs to be treated. If the infant seems to be in intense pain, or minor pain but long lasting, it is a good time to head to the pediatrician or emergency so an expert can help to diagnose and find the source of baby's pain.
Sources: Ox.ac.uk, Pedemmorsels.com, Parents.com, MightyMoms.club, BellyBelly.com.au