The other day, I talked to my eldest, who will soon be in middle school. Amazing, right? Anyway, as we were chatting, I asked her a question. Before she could answer, her stomach made one of those loud wailing sounds. We cracked right up.
Her stomach, and her sister’s too, has never been quiet. And you know what? Neither is mine sometimes. On a recent conference call, my stomach rumbled so loudly that I was asked if I had an angry cat in the house.
We don’t own a cat.
Anyway, your stomach isn’t quiet, and the same is true for your babies. You will hear growling, gurgling, rumbling, tumbling, sloshing, and even tinkling sounds coming from that baby belly. Just because it’s noisy doesn’t mean something is wrong. In fact, it’s pretty normal to hear noise during digestion, roughly every 30 seconds to one minute.
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Here’s more on what those noises mean!
Think of your own tummy and how it rumbles and growls when you’re hungry. You’ve just placed an order for your favorite pizza, and you can’t wait to sink your teeth into it. Your stomach and digestive system, meanwhile, can’t wait to digest it.
As for your baby, they might not be ready for pizza at this stage in life, but they sure are ready for your breastmilk or formula. Stomach growling happens on an empty stomach. It contracts and moves air around. That moving air creates some pretty weird sounds.
If you hear a growling or rumbling from that tiny belly and it’s been about 2 hours or so since you last nursed her, she’s ready for more, so feed her.
But Leslie! I just heard my baby’s tummy rumbling while I was feeding her!
Don’t worry, Mama! It’s that gas and air moving around the digestive tract. She’ll be fine unless the gas gets trapped, and then she may be upset about the discomfort from it. She’ll let you know this by fussing and crying. If it’s close to bedtime, it may interfere with her sleep.
If you notice she gets agitated at the end of a feeding, you may want to try a different, more upright nursing position. For bottle feeders, use a bottle with more vents so that she won’t gulp down more air.
And be prepared if the baby has somehow cried a lot during the day…more crying = more gassiness. It’s always good to hold her upright, pat her back, and help her work out that gas before it gets all jammed up there.
If you find your baby gets gassy after you eat certain foods that transfer in your breastmilk, you may want to avoid them. If it’s the formula you’re giving her, you may want to speak to your pediatrician to see if there’s a different brand they recommend.
And regardless of breastmilk or formula, if you hear gurgling and rumbling, you may be holding your baby in a position trapping that gas. Rest her up on your shoulder so she can burp or fart, and she’ll be a happy baby.
I just want to touch on the topic of dietary sensitivities a bit more. Sometimes, something you eat can annoy your stomach, which can happen to babies. If you hear rumbling and your baby has diarrhea, it’s likely a dietary issue.
I’m not talking about a one-off here. This can happen to anyone at any time, even babies. But if this becomes a regular issue, it could be the formula you’re using, or for breastfed babies, you need to keep track of what you’re eating.
Common trigger foods that you may want to remove during this time are spicy foods, dairy, acidic foods, broccoli, beans, cabbage, and caffeine. I know, sorry about that last one, but if it stops the gassy screams of agony, so be it.
Every baby is different too, so if your bestie’s baby was upset with caffeine, that doesn’t mean yours is too.
If you hear gurgling, then crying after eating, chances are your baby’s tummy hurts, and something in the formula or your breastmilk upset her tummy.
Sloshing sounds are kind of funny, aren’t they? It sounds like water, and that’s basically the formula or breastmilk moving around there. Nothing to worry about!
Honestly, when you hear these sounds, it’s better than not hearing them. Any sudden change in these sounds or hearing no sounds should be more concerning.
What about a squealing, high-pitched whining? That’s not a good sound at all. Especially when the baby seems upset on top of it too. That could indicate an intestinal blockage, something you’ll want to call the doctor about.
Ways to help your baby’s belly
If you’re noticing sounds that seem to correlate with an upset baby belly, here’s what you can do…
- Massage that belly
Giving your baby a nice little massage can help her relax, plus it can push that gas through the digestive tract and get it out of there.
- Move the legs
Help your baby by moving her legs like she’s riding a bicycle. This can help push the gas out. You can make it fun by singing a song too.
- Go for bath time
A nice, warm bath can help with constipation and gas. It’s soothing and relaxing, though if your baby is anything like my eldest (who hated baths), I recommend singing during this too.
- Help baby burp
Again, holding your baby upright after feedings is a great way to keep gas troubles from causing upset tummies and crazy noises. Don’t just put the baby down right away…hold her upright for about 15 to 20 minutes first, patting her back to help work that gas out. As she gets bigger, she’ll be able to burp and fart out that gas on her own.
When to worry
All these sounds are normal. Hiccups are normal. Gurgling, rumbling, sloshing, and all of that are normal too. But if you hear high-pitched squealing, the baby has diarrhea, vomiting, or fever, that’s when you need to call the doctor right away. So, take a deep breath, Mama…everything will be ok!
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs. She loves eating too much sushi, exercise, and jamming out on her Fender.