Boots guide to common feeding problems

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Information & Advice

Boots guide to common feeding problems

Get the lowdown on coping with your child's colic, constipation, reflux and lactose intolerance.

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Boots guide to common feeding problems

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, health visitor or GP.

Common feeding problems in infants


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. 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.


Pooing less than three times a week, straining, smelly wind or hard, dry poo are symptoms of constipation. If your baby is less than eight weeks old and hasn't pooed for several days, consult your GP or health visitor.

To help babies who haven't been weaned, try giving water that has been boiled then cooled between feeds. 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.


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.

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.

Consider having these to hand

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