30 answers

What causes an infant to cry while eating?

My 4 month old son crys ever time you feed him a bottle he crys then eats then crys then eats, so i took him to doctor and he is not sick so what could it be??? It's almost like you are not holding him right. So I guess I need some tips on how to make him eat more peacefully!!!!!Several of the response say reflux but my son is already on Precavid for reflux so I'm not sure thats what it is!!!

What can I do next?


Some moms said it could be teething, or the position he's in while eating. While some moms suggest to take a closer look at his breathing, his eating habit (gums, sucking, etc.) and his ears. Check out the article for other moms' input, and consult a doctor if it persists.

Featured Answers

He could be teething early! Try using orajel on his gums just before feeding time. Additionally, you may try Teething Tablets...they worked great for my babies. Good Luck.

Has you son had a Modified Barium Swallow Study (MBSS) to assess his swallowing??? He may not be an organized feeder and that could be why he is "crying".

See if the Pediatrician would give you a prescription to have a Speech-Language Pathologist do an MBSS and/or Feeding Evaluation...

I am a Speech-Language Patholgist and come across this often.

Good Luck!

My son did cried like that when he was that age. I found out if I rocked slightly from side to side while I fed him that he calmed down and would eat without tears.

More Answers

It sounds to me like an ear ache. I know you took him to the dr. but sometimes the ears will hurt with no other symptoms. It's like when you're on a plane and your ears pop from the preasure change when you swallow, chew gum, or hold your nose and blow. His ears could be popping every time he swallows, and it could hurt.

Try taking him to a chiropractor.

I don't know who your pediatrician is, but my newborn daughter was tested for Dysphagia (it's a malfunction of the valve that shuts the airways when your son swallows so he doesn't aspirate fluids into his lungs). Does he choke when he swallows at all? My DD was tested once at 3 months and then again at 6 mos. To this day, she is 7 1/2 months old and I cannot even get her to drink 3 oz of breastmilk from a bottle because she learned that drinking was painful. I had the same trouble with her when she was little that you're having with your son, now. She's always been extremely difficult to feed and she only weighs 13 lbs. at almost 8 mos. Might be something that you check into. We had a Gastroenterologist order the test for us.. there are pediatric gastroenterologists in Ft. Worth.
Best of luck!

Maybe the Prevacid is not working. You might try new formulas. My son did that and we ended up tolerating Alimentum formula. If he is crying , he is in PAIN so do what you can.

I took care of a little baby like yours while in day care. Out of everyone, even his parents, I seemed to be the only one that could feed him. Turns out (even with reflux) he would only take a bottle sitting up and leaning forward. I actually showed mom what I was doing so she would be more at ease. Everyone always fed or "tried" to feed him while leaning him back. It never worked. As long as I leaned him forward and sitting up, he ate fine. Maybe it was because he didn't feel like he was choking, but whatever it was, it worked!

Thrush? check for white spots on his cheeks and tongue. If so, then it's thrush. Easy to fix with meds!

Is that the only time her cries alot? Strange... when did he get his shots?

You might want to get a swallow study done to see if he is asperating. some babies asperate (fluid goes into wrong tube and into lungs when they swallow) and it causes pain. it can cause pnumonia if it persists. ask your dr. to set up a study for you. good luck,

It could be teething. 4 mos. is on the early side for teeth, but same babies get them then. Supposedly teething makes sucking painful (I wouldn't know 'cause my 9 mos. old doesn't have teeth yet!).

good luck!

If I were you, I might get a second opinion from another pediatrician. It sounds like it might be a sore throat or earache. Also, reflux like the others mentioned. Or a tummy ache. I'd definitely get him checked out again by someone else.

My son did this. Turned out is was acid reflux. After we put him on meds, he ate better, slept better and was overall a happier baby. By 9 mo old he didn't need his meds anymore. He just outgrew it. Try feeding him almost sitting him upright. I would go back to the pedi though or at least get a second opinion for your little guy's sake and your sanity. Are you breast feeding or formula feeding? If formula, you may need to get a formula that's easier to digest. My son was on Enfamil Lipil and ended up on Enfamil Gentlease. My son did not spit up alot but would gag on what seemed like nothing. The pedi called it silent reflux. The spit up would come up but my son would push it back down before he actually threw up. Good luck.

He could be teething early! Try using orajel on his gums just before feeding time. Additionally, you may try Teething Tablets...they worked great for my babies. Good Luck.

Is the formula coming out to fast or too slow? Sometimes the nipple gets clogged. Does he do it from the start of the bottle? If not, maybe he needs a burp? Or a different bottle?

I am not sure if it's too late, but did you nurse him for any amount of time? Some babies only do well with the breast. Does he cry if some one else feeds him? I know you took him to the DR., but did they check his ears? Maybe when he is leaning back and swallowing it is causing pain in his ears. Hope this helps!Nice to meet you!!

I have 3 children, & they all did what you are describing, at various ages, depending on when they were teething. My oldest started teething at around 3 months, & got her 1st tooth at barely 5 months. She'd suck on the bottle for a few seconds, & then let go & just cry. She'd do this throughout the entire feeding. Some days were better than others. Ask your pediatrician to recommend something for his gums. My other 2 younger children did the same thing. You feel so bad for them, being hungry, but hurting when they try to eat.
I hope this helps.

It sounds like acid reflux/colic like the others mothers mentioned. Sounds like what my youngest had. You might want to sit him up while feeding and sit him upright at least 1 hr after each feeding, burp more often. Get a second opinion.

Gripe water, little tummies gas drops, Prosobee soy formula is what helped more than the gentle ease and the Dr Brown bottles helped the most.

My son was diagnosed w/colic and acid refux at 7 wks and had the acid reflux until 15 months. He was on reglan for a few months then changed to zantac which helped w/the burning but the projectile throwing up/excessive spitting up was Very hard to control.

Good Luck and I hope your little one feels better soon.

Have you tried changing the type bottle you feed with, maybe he is getting too much air,and gas in his tummy. Both my sons cried if they did not get enough milk fast enough,they sucked those bottles down fast.both are 6'2" now. Good luck.N. s.

He could, possibly, have reflux. I know you took him to the doctor, but, some times, they don't catch it. Does he spit up a lot? Not normal baby amounts, but A LOT? If he does, that and the crying while eating are symptoms of reflux. If he has that, they'll just put him on some Zantac and he'll eat better. My son had it when he was an infant and was on Zantac from about 2 months until he was about 10 months. Just a suggestion.... :)

Hi A.,

The Prevacid dose may not be high enough. Most doctors don't give babies enough reflux medication. My son had reflux, and he used to fuss when nursing, etc. Many times they won't get relief on the low doses doctors prescribe. There is a website that explains more about this. Many moms will print off the information and take it to their pediatricians.

Here it is: www.marci-kids.com

There is also a great resource out there for info on reflux and support from other moms and dads who are going through it with their babies/kids. It is www.infantreflux.org
Good luck :)

My son did cried like that when he was that age. I found out if I rocked slightly from side to side while I fed him that he calmed down and would eat without tears.

My son was on Prevacid for reflux as well, but we ended up in the ER one Friday evening with exactly what you're describing. The ER Dr. said that he had 2 children with the same symptoms and he gave us his recipe for "goopy glop", which is a mixture of formula, water, white grape juice (to offset constipation due to the cereal), and rice cereal. We used this recipe from that day forward and it made feedings much better!

As the other moms mention, this sounds like reflux. Does he "squeak" when he swallows? Does he arch his back? See http://www.pollywogbaby.com/refluxandcolic/reflux.html for more info on this. If after reading the symptoms on this site, you think you just read your baby's bio, definitely take him back to the Dr. and tell him you suspect he has reflux. This isn't a permanent condition, he will probably grow out of this, but it does make for some miserable feeding times for a little while!

Here are my home-care tips, things you can try before going back to the Dr.:
1. Try different bottles, don't buy a bunch till you have used them for about 5 days...sometimes you will see temporary improvement for a day or two then you will be back to the drawing board by day 4. We started with playtex dropins until we started all of our screaming during feedings, then swithced to the Platex vent-aires, and finally found partial peace with the Avent bottles.

2. Gripe water-we used a gripe water called Colic-Ease. There are many of these out on the market, all with different ingredients. Some require refrigeration, some don't. Colic-Ease doesn't require refrigeration and tastes better, plus I am more comfortable with the ingredients...see http://www.colicease.com and read about the ingredients for more info. This really seemed to ease our baby's reflux pains-we would always give her a dose before she ate until she grew out of the reflux. Also, they sell this brand locally at Family Health Market in Frisco on Preston Road. One more thing on this-it works as well for grownups on indigestion, nausea, and upset stomach, so we keep a bottle on hand for that now.

3. Feeding technique and positioning-try holding baby at an incline during feeding and keeping him upright for about 15 minutes after. Also, try feeding smaller, more frequent meals. For example, intead of 4 ounces every 4 hours, try 2-3 ounces every 3 hours.

My tip that you will need to talk with your Dr. about-formulas....
Your doctor may recommend that you switch formulas if you are formula feeding. Now our Dr. recommended Alimentum and my baby just wasn't having any of that! If you do have to try other formulas, ask for samples. SAVE your receipts if you buy from Walmart, you can take it back if you need to. And finally, with formula changes it can take up to 5 days to see improvement, but things should NOT get worse. So if you notice by day 2 that things are worse, you need to try something else. Eventually, we discovered our baby was lactose intolerant and landed on the Gentle Ease formula.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

A. -

I agree with the previous posts. It sounds like reflux to me! Both my children have had it and they did this exact thing. If your son doesn't spit up at all or just a little bit, he may have silent reflux where he's not spitting up much but he gets the burn associated with it. I would definitely suggest this to your doctor. He/she may indeed prescribe Zantac (both my kids used this). Other helpful tips are to keep your son upright after feeding for a bit and good burps afterward. I hope this helps!


The Prevacid might be working if there is an underlying cause for his reflux. My son was on Zantac for almost a month and it seemed like it wasn't working. Turns out he has a milk/soy allergy that was causing the reflux. Take away milk/soy, no more relux and no more need to be on medication! I breastfeed, but I know they sell formula that is milk/soy free. His pedi can do a test to see if there's blood in his stool (that's what ours did to determine that it truly was an allergy). Our poor baby got bad you could actually see little amounts of blood in his stool. Hope your baby feels better soon!

That REALLY sounds like infant reflux to me. Does he seem more comfortable when he is in the up right position? Does he ache his back during feedings? Does he wake up screaming while lying down to sleep? These are just some of the symptoms that they can have if reflux is a problem. Some spit/throw up and some don't so you may not see any outward signs.
For some reason or another it seems the norm is that alot of doctors have a hard time diagnosing this condition. I would really push the issue with my doctor as this behavior is not normal. Babies should be comforted by their bottles not uncomfortable.

We had the exact same problem with our son. We thought it was reflux but he didn't respond to any meds for it. We changed formula to Similac Sensitive (had tried changing formula to something else previously, and that didn't work) and there was an immediate absence of the crying. And we tried everything else too, like giving him a little juice for constipation, trying different bottles, different nipples, etc. If you are giving him formula, he may just be sensitive to the kind you are giving him.

I looked through the first couple of suggestions. I am not sure if I would try a chiro for such a young baby.

But..I would take a closer look at his breathing, his eating habit (gums, sucking, etc.) and his ears. Mine would cry when he had an ear infection or when his nose was stopped up and he was having trouble breathing/sucking to eat.

When he had a terrible ear infection (after a month of trying to solve this) my first ped. did not recognize the problem. I went for a second opinion when we had a fever of 104* and he told me to go home and wait it out because it was a virus. Uh..no thanks. Another ped in a diff town said his ears were so packed and painful it was a wonder the child could do anything!!

So look at the other factors and do not be afraid to go to a diff doctor in a completely different area. Many docs on the same town/area don't want to step on each others toes, but they have no problem questioning a doctors treatment from another area. ;-)

Good luck,

Has you son had a Modified Barium Swallow Study (MBSS) to assess his swallowing??? He may not be an organized feeder and that could be why he is "crying".

See if the Pediatrician would give you a prescription to have a Speech-Language Pathologist do an MBSS and/or Feeding Evaluation...

I am a Speech-Language Patholgist and come across this often.

Good Luck!

My daughter, who is now almost 4, had the same problems. She was on Zantac from teh time she was 6 weeks old. We went through several different formulas for the next 4 months, to no avail. Someone suggested I take her to a chiropractor. I was very reluctant at first,but I was despaerate. So I took her to the chiropracto, and found that her back was not in line. She got adjusted for bout a week, and mraculously, the problems went away. The chiropractor also helped to adjust her ears to promote better drainage, and she quit having ear infections. Also, the chiropractor had me bring in the car seat, and she found what was causeing her bak to be out of lin. The foam in the back of the carseat stopped half way down the back. Once we corrected this, it kept her from experiencing more problems. If you live in or near Plano, I would reccomend Dr. Melissa Shelton as a chiropractor. My whole family goes to her, as well as most of my friends and their children. It is much nicer to go that route, then have your child be on medication all the time. Her office is off of Hedgecoxe and Preston Rd, and her phone number is ###-###-####.

Can you try putting him on a soy formula until his stomach calms down? My husband and I have both had problems with reflux ourselves, and there have been times when anything that we ate, no matter how gentle, would be terribly painful. Also, have you tried changing nipples to see if the nipple is bothersome?

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