Uncomfortable or painful gas isn’t fun for anyone, let alone your baby. While it’s amazing (and a bit shocking) how such big noises can come out of someone so tiny and precious, it can be concerning as well.
Just like everyone poops, everyone passes gas too. Farting is completely normal and healthy, but if it’s causing your infant problems, you want to help give your baby some relief.
Read about the common causes for your baby’s gas, signs it’s causing them problems and how to treat it.
Common causes for baby gas
If your baby is flatulent, there could be many culprits for it. Some of the most common causes of increased gassiness include feeding issues, formula or food intolerance, crying and constipation.
“If your baby has a poor latch on the breast or bottle, they may gulp in more air as they feed.” said Alyson Boone, CPNP-PC, a certified pediatric nurse practitioner in primary care with Banner Health Clinic in Mesa, AZ. “This can increase fussiness and gas.”
Food sensitivity or intolerance
If your baby has a sensitivity or intolerance to a milk formula, this can do a number on their digestion.
If you’re nursing, changes in your diet can also lead to changes in your baby’s digestion and gassiness.
When your baby cries, it can indicate a number of things. At this point in their lives, crying is their only means of communicating their needs. Their cries could indicate gas or maybe that they’re tired or hungry. However, all this crying isn’t doing their tummies any good.
“It’s important to remember that while gas can result in fussiness, fussiness can also result in gas, and infants tend to swallow a lot of air when crying,” Boone said.
At this stage in your little one’s life it’s not usual for them to get constipated, but it is more likely to happen if they are formula-fed or have started solids. If your baby’s poops are dry and hard, these could be an indicator that they’re constipated or a little backed up.
[Also read “What Does Your Baby’s Poop Mean? Chart and Guide.”]
Signs your baby is gassy
“It’s normal for your baby to be gassy from time to time,” Boone said. “Gas is only a problem if it results in increased fussiness. There is little need to address it if it isn’t resulting in discomfort or fussiness.”
If you suspect your baby is fussy due to gas, here are signs and symptoms to watch out for:
- Frequent spit-ups
- Drawing their legs up toward belly
- Reduced hunger
- Bloated or swollen belly
- Gurgling or bubbling stomach noises
Ways to help a gassy baby
To help relieve and reduce your baby’s gas, here are six tips to try:
Burp during and after feedings
Sometimes one or two good burping sessions during and after a feeding will do the trick. Burping gets rid of extra air that is swallowed when your baby sucks on your breast or bottle. “When you burp a baby, it helps to get the gas out of their stomach before it goes into the intestines where it can cause more discomfort,” Boone said.
Your baby may not like to be interrupted during mealtime at first but building this into your routine can help provide them some gas relief.
Check your baby’s latch
If your baby isn’t latching (how your baby fastens onto the breast or bottle) well, they may be swallowing more air. A painful latch to the breast or a “clicking” type sound while your baby feeds may indicate their latch needs help.
Many latching issues on the breast can be remedied with some minor adjustments or with a lactation consultant who can help with proper technique and positioning. “If there is a poor latch, you can also have your baby evaluated to see if they have a tongue-tie as this can affect nursing and bottle feeds as well,” Boone said.
Switch out the bottle and nipple
Not all bottles and nipples are created equal. Sometimes a nipple size that is too big or a bottle latch that is too shallow can make your baby swallow more air. A slower flow nipple can help your baby control their air intake better as they feed.
“You can try out different shaped nipples to see if the latch improves, such as a narrow-based, longer nipple, such as Dr. Brown’s bottles, or a wider-based, shorter nipples as found on Tommee Tippee bottles,” Boone said. “You can also try feeding systems meant to help reduce the amount of air swallowed by the baby.”
Monitor your diet or change formula
If you’re strictly breastfeeding your baby, your diet can make a difference in how your baby digests milk. If you notice they are uncomfortable after being breastfed, they could be sensitive to the foods you’re eating.
“Monitor your diet to see if certain foods tend to cause your baby more discomfort and then avoid them,” Boone said. “Common foods that can cause gas include beans, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.”
Your baby may do well on a standard formula, but some may have a milk allergy or lactose intolerance. “Some babies do best with a low lactose formula like Similac Sensitive or Enfamil Gentlease and other do best with a formula containing probiotics such as Gerber Good Start Soothe or Gentle,” Boone said.
Check with your baby’s provider first to address the gassiness and help you successfully make the switch.
Get baby moving
Movement can help their little digestive tract get rid of trapped gas faster. Here are some exercises you can try:
- Bicycle: Place your baby on their back, hold both feet in each hand and gently cycle their legs in a peddling motion.
- Tummy time: Place baby on their tummy. A little pressure on their tummy may keep things moving and help break up those gas bubbles. Plus, tummy time is a good time to work on their head and neck strength.
Try a baby probiotic
Your baby’s gut microbiome, bacteria in the gut, may be out of balance. The helpful bacteria in probiotics may help to improve the balance of good bacteria. Because baby probiotics boost good bacteria, they can help aid in digestive issues and overall health. Some studies have suggested probiotics may decrease gas and the crying time of a fussy baby.
“I am a big fan of probiotics,” Boone said. “Look for baby probiotics that contain Lactobacillus reuteri (L. reuteri).”
[Also read “Follow Your Gut! Free Yourself from Painful Gas.”]
Do gripe water or gas drops help with gas?
Gripe water is an over-the-counter liquid supplement of sodium bicarbonate and herbs. Plenty of parents have sworn by it, but there’s not much hard evidence it soothes gassiness.
“I’m not personally a fan of most homeopathic remedies (such as gripe water) as there is little oversight to ensure the ingredients listed are contained in the amounts described,” Boone said. “I encourage parents, if you choose to use these products, to search for ones that take the extra steps to ensure the product’s safety by being manufactured in an FDA-inspected facility.”
However, gas drops like simethicone are a great option if your baby has gas trapped in their stomach and intestines. “Many parents report improvement in fussiness relating to gas within 15-30 minutes of giving a dose of simethicone,” Boone said. “But check with your child’s provider before starting any kind of medicine or supplement.”
When should I contact a health care provider?
Gas is common with infants. Reach out to your baby’s provider with any concerns about your baby’s increased fussiness to see if there could be additional causes for their excessive gas, including constipation, cow’s milk protein allergy or acid reflux.
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