Around three to four months is the time when most babies start to discover the world around them by putting as much of it into their mouths as they can, and so it’s not unusual for babies to get their first tummy upsets around this time.
If your baby has a tummy bug she may vomit more than usual and have diarrhea. She may be fretful or more grumpy than usual, have disturbed sleep and appear to be in discomfort, and she may be more fussy at feeds. You may even hear her tummy gurgling loudly after eating. If this happens then don’t panic, tummy bugs usually sort themselves out in a few days, but it is advisable to go to the doctor to rule out any other potential problems and get advice and reassurance.
If your baby has bad diarrhea then your doctor can prescribe you sachets of rehydrating salts to make up with water. Breastfeeding mums may be so used to runny poohs that it’s difficult to recognise diarrhea, but a give-away for diarrhea is the smell: breastfed baby pooh usually smells alright, but diarrhea pooh is really quite stinky. If you are breastfeeding then rest assured that you’re already giving your baby the best treatment to help her get over the infection.
When your baby has a tummy bug she may want to eat less, but more often. Just go with the flow, even if it means more sterilising and making up more bottles, as it will be easier on her upset stomach to eat in small amounts.
Avoiding tummy bugs
If your baby has a tummy bug it doesn’t mean that you have done something wrong: it’s impossible to shield your baby from all bacteria. In fact, it’s preferable not to be too meticulous and try to sterilise everything baby touches, as she needs to build up her immune system.
Continuing to sterilise your baby’s bottles, dummy and milk paraphenalia and being careful with changing hygiene will help avoid most of the nastier germs out there. It’s also wise to wash your hands frequently and keep general good levels of hygiene, regularly washing toys and other items that frequently find their way into your baby’s mouth, including baby’s own hands! If your baby likes to chew on your hands then at least make sure that they are very clean first, as nails and the folds of the skin are prime breeding grounds for bacteria. But you don’t need to sterilise all your baby’s toys nor try to maintain a completely sterile environment for your baby, she’s naturally developing her immune system to protect her from nasty bugs and exposure to a few germs helps in that development.