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Newborn Tummy Noises

by Sharon Secor, studioD

The noises that a newborn baby's tummy makes can be a bit disconcerting for a new parent. The gurgling, grumbling and growling can be surprisingly loud. Often, it isn't the stomach that you hear, but rather the functioning of the lower digestive system, the small and large intestines. Bowel sounds begin about one hour after birth, according to registered nurse Joy Haskin from California State University, Bakersfield. As the newborn's digestive system functions, the processes of feeding, digesting and elimination make noises. These noises are usually quite normal on their own. However, if noises are accompanied by indications of pain that aren't eased by passing gas or changes in appetite or elimination, consult your pediatrician.

The Gurgle and Growl of Gas

The noises that breast milk or formula make while moving through a newborn's digestive system are pretty normal and generally don't cause real discomfort for the baby. The main newborn tummy noise and lower digestive system sounds that can be disruptive to the baby and the household are gas noises. These gurgling and growling sounds can be painful when they get caught up in a curve of the intestines or some other place for a few minutes. The pain can interfere with a baby's sleep and cause agitation and crying.

It Might Be Positional

If your newborn is fussy and you hear the tell-tale sounds of gas, try to help the gas move through the digestive system and, hopefully, help it pass by changing your baby's position. Put your newborn on your shoulder in a burping position and pat his back. Try placing your baby on his back and gently moving his legs up and down and bending his knees. Lay him tummy-down across your knees and pat his back or -- gently -- jiggle your knees. For bottle-fed babies, a slight change in feeding position, making sure that the nipple is always full when the baby is sucking, can help prevent gas by reducing the amount of air the baby takes in while feeding.

It Could Be Diet

There are some foods that a breastfeeding mother can eat that may contribute to gas in a newborn. Temporarily eliminating the food from the diet can help. Some of the foods that are common sources of a newborn's growling tummy are tomatoes, oranges and other citrus fruits, soy products, and dairy foods. Some parents say that broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts also contribute to gas in a newborn. An immature digestive system can be sensitive to a broad range of substances from foods that pass through breast milk or to certain types of formula, contributing to tummy grumbling, according to MedlinePlus.

Better Growling Than Not

Hearing belly and bowel noise is a sign that your newborn's digestive system is functioning, and in many ways it's better for it to be noisy than not. A sharp reduction or lack of noise can be more worrisome, says MedlinePlus. A significant change in belly and bowel sound can also be a cause for concern. If your newborn's tummy noises usually have a deeper, rumbling sort of sound, and you start hearing a high-pitched, almost squealing, whiny tone, talk to your pediatrician, because that is a noise associated with the beginning of an intestinal blockage.

About the Author

Sharon Secor began writing professionally in 1999, while attending Empire State University. Secor specializes primarily in personal finance and economics, and writes on a broad range of subjects. She is published in numerous online and print publications, including Freedom's Phoenix, the ObscentiyCrimes and the American Chronicle.

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