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
Pain across the
eyes, jaw and forehead
Vomiting (in severe
If you notice any of these signs,
it could be your baby is experiencing a migraine - which can be very unpleasant!
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!
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.
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:
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!
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
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:
red cheeks and a hot forehead
They may be
holding, rubbing or nursing their head and eyes repeatedly while crying
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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