Baby looking over woman's shoulder

Boots guide to common feeding problems

Common feeding problems in infants

Feeding your baby should be among the most rewarding of times as a parent. So when it doesn't go smoothly, it can be distressing for baby and stressful for you. Discover our tips that can help with some of the most common feeding problems. For further guidance, speak to your Boots pharmacist, public health nurse or GP.


If your baby is healthy but cries excessively, they could have colic. Flatulence, a flushed face, clenched fists and drawing knees up to the chest are other signs.

Colic can be distressing, but usually gets better after a few months, and there are things you can do to help. If you're breastfeeding, make sure baby is latched on properly, and avoid caffeine and, for some women, spicy food. Dietary changes, such as adding lactase drops to breast milk or bottle milk, may also help some babies. For bottle-fed babies, consider anti-colic bottles, teats and drops. Gentle tummy and back rubs after feeding and burping can also help comfort your baby.

Crying baby under blanket


A constipated baby will not poo regularly or, when they do, they struggle to pass dry pellet-like poo which doesn't soak into a nappy. It's unusual for a breast fed baby to be constipated as breast milk contains motilin which is a natural laxative. Consult your GP if your baby is constipated.

To help babies who haven't been weaned, try giving water that has been boiled then cooled between feeds. Babies under two months old should be given 30ml cooled, boiled water 1-2 times a day and if constipation continues increase to 150ml per kg. Babies between two and six months should be given 30-60ml cooled, boiled water twice a day and if constipation continues try giving 30-60ml of diluted fruit juice (one part juice, three parts cooled boiled water) twice a day.

If you use formula milk, make it up exactly as directed. Offer weaned babies a healthy balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, but never force them to eat. Ask a healthcare professional for further guidance.

Baby nuzzling mother's shoulder


When the contents of your baby's stomach pass back into its food pipe, it's called reflux. This normal process can be worrying to parents if it happens a lot, causing wet burps, hiccups and vomiting after feeds.

To help, try feeding smaller amounts more frequently. Burp baby before, during and after, and sit baby upright when they've finished feeding. Use smaller teat holes if bottle feeding or consider using a specialist formula milk - ask a health professional for advice when changing formula.

Seek advice from your GP or public health nurse if reflux continues to happen and if your child seems to be in pain or is not gaining weight.

Baby sleeping against woman's shoulder

Lactose intolerance

When baby can't digest milk sugar lactose, they're said to be lactose intolerant. This can be a genetic condition, or a symptom of problems in the small intestine. If your baby has diarrhoea, cramping, bloating and flatulence, speak to your GP.

Babies can also suffer from cows' milk protein allergy, which can cause rashes and eczema, vomiting, constipation and diarrhoea, or respiratory problems. In an emergency, a severe (anaphylactic) reaction can mean difficulty breathing, choking or becoming floppy or faint. Seek medical help straight away.

Woman soothing crying baby in her arms

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