What to Do When Your Baby Experiences a Headache?
We all know babies cry – a lot! But sometimes no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to figure out why!
Have you considered that your baby may be experiencing a headache?
Surprising as it may sound, it’s actually quite common for babies to experience headaches. Just like us, they have to go through the sometimes very painful experience, but worse for them, they can’t let us know what’s wrong – except by crying.
They also let us know what’s wrong through a number of other cues. This includes different body language and, as a parent, you’ll get to understand the different sounds of their cries. So if your baby is making a racket and it sounds like they’re in pain but you can’t see anything physically wrong with them, maybe consider it’s exactly this that they could be experiencing.
Just like us, your baby may experience a headache for a variety of reasons. Deciphering the cues and symptoms can be tricky but we’ll cover some helpful guidance in this article.
What are the types of headaches my baby might experience?
As an adult you’ll be used to dealing with a variety of headache related pains. From strong migraines, to a stress headache – and your baby is no different. Some of the headaches they might suffer from include:
A migraine might actually be one of the easier forms of headaches to identify and help ease if your baby is suffering. We all know that a migraine is a more severe form of headache and usually comes accompanied with many other symptoms including:
· Sensitivity to light and sound
· Pain across the eyes, jaw and forehead
· Vomiting (in severe cases)
If you notice any of these signs, it could be your baby is experiencing a migraine – which can be very unpleasant!
2. Stress Headache
We experience stress headaches for a number of reasons: emotional stress, continuous loud noises, bright lights, being in front screens for too long, not enough water. The list goes on! While this is a more mild headache to experience, for your baby it can still be very painful! And they will want to let you know about it by crying!
3. Cluster Headache
A cluster headache is a more severe headache and is usually experienced on one side of the head. It can last for a few hours, and may be repeated across a number of days or even weeks. Your baby might let you know they are experiencing this type of headache by holding, rubbing or nursing one side of their head.
What causes my baby to have a headache?
Just like us, there are a huge number of reasons as to why your baby may experience a headache. Some of the more common causes are listed below:
1. Hunger and Dehydration
Your baby needs a lot of feeding, at regular intervals while they are growing. If they are not getting enough milk and nutrients, this can lead to headaches as their body becomes dehydrated and struggles to maintain a healthy flow of blood around the body.
Breastfeeding mums may want to make sure they are releasing enough milk, and bottle fed babies will need to ensure they are getting the recommended amount per day to keep baby full, hydrated and happy.
Teething is a major cause of headaches in babies – as you can probably imagine! This painful process puts pressure on their jaw, the blood vessels in their head and the result can be very painful headaches! You’ll know why your baby is teething by their rosy cheeks, continuous drooling, crying and need to bite on anything they can get their hands on!
3. Cold, flu and other infections
Headaches are a very common side effect of other illness such as cold, flu and infections. In very severe cases meningitis could also be to blame. If your baby is demonstrating other symptoms such as a cough, runny nose, high temperature and any kind of rash – make sure you consult with your doctor immediately so they can diagnose and make recommended treatments.
4. Stress to the head
Some of the other causes of headaches are common sense things. For example, if your baby has recently knocked or bumped their head, they could likely experience a headache as a result. Also check how your baby is sleeping. If their cot or mattress has got reversed incline (so their head is dipped lower than their body) this puts pressure on the neck and the resulting stress can lead to headaches. Make sure your baby is sleeping flat or with a slight elevation so their head is slightly higher than their body to aid their sleep and healthy blood flow.
Symptoms: What are some of the cues I need to look out for?
It’s the sad case that your baby won’t be able to tell you exactly what is wrong, but there are a few key signs to look out for if you suspect your baby is experiencing a headache:
· Increased temperature, red cheeks and a hot forehead
· They may be holding, rubbing or nursing their head and eyes repeatedly while crying
· Restlessness, inability to sleep or very broken sleep
· Continuous crying even after feeding, sleeping and cuddles
All of these cues could indicate your baby is suffering from headaches, but they could also be associated with the early onset of cold, flu or other infections. Never assume the symptoms will simply go away and if you notice this going on longer than a couple of days, make sure you speak with your doctor who can properly assess what is happening with your baby.
Treatment: How can I help alleviate my baby’s headache?
Luckily, soothing a headache can be simple, especially if it is very mild. Even though your baby is very sensitive, there are some very practical, and holistic ways to help aid your baby and alleviate their headache:
1. Make sure they are well fed
First and foremost, make sure they are properly hydrated with a good feed. We all know that when we experience a headache, the quickest way to alleviate it is to rehydrate and drink plenty of water and your baby is no different.
2. Create a cool, calm environment
When your baby has a headache, they will very sensitive to a lot of sensory things including light and sound. Create a calming environment for them, close the curtains and turn off any music/TV. Turn on the air conditioning or place a fan in the room to help regulate their body temperature. Encourage them to lay still and rest with them.
3. Try a cool compress
A cool compress across the forehead can also help work wonders. Try a cool one or a warm compress to help aid their symptoms.
4. Try over the counter remedies
If the headache has been bought on by teething, there are plenty of over the counter remedies that are very safe for your baby to take that can help them. Also try popping some of their favourite plastic toys in the freezer for an hour and then letting them suck or chew on them. This can help numb their gums and relieve the pain.
5. Get some fresh air
Fresh air can work wonders for a headache. If it is a mild headache, try taking baby for a walk in your local park. The fresh air may really help their symptoms.
6. Lots of cuddles and support
Your baby is in pain and needs all the support they can get from you! Lay with them, give them a cuddle, stroke their head, soothe them with kind words. Let them know that you’re there and looking after them, and that their pain is not going unnoticed. This can work wonders for helping to calm your baby down and relieve the stress of experiencing a headache – which in turn can help reverse their symptoms!
One last thing: Remember to speak to your doctor
One off headaches are nothing to worry about, but if you find your baby is getting repeated headaches or that the frequency seems to be increasing, make sure you always consult with your doctor.
Never assume that it is nothing, and even if they are fine when you next see your doctor or midwife, always just mention it so that they can make a note and help you monitor your baby to make sure there is nothing more serious going on.
Simply being aware and knowing what is normal, healthy behaviour for your baby will help you understand and pick up when something is wrong – and that’s when you can step up and get help.