That piercing scream and red little baby face can make any parent wince in empathy. If you are surprised by the amount of gas your baby has on a daily basis, then tune in for some great tips on how to handle it. Learn what the causes are, and take action by implementing some tummy-easing strategies that can help bring comfort to your baby.
What causes gas?
There are several reasons your baby may be suffering from gas. One has to do with your infant’s delicate and immature digestive system. Gas pains can result from air bubbles getting built up in her tummy and intestines as the food is being broken down. Food sensitivities in babies can vary from child to child; there are some foods that will produce more gas for babies than others (more on this later). A big culprit of gas bubbles is from your baby swallowing too much air. This can be caused by several factors: bottles, pacifiers, crying (which can actually cause a lot of gas) and ineffective feedings (where baby is frequently breaking their suck while on the breast or bottle).
Signs your baby may have gas
If your baby has gas pains, she will cry, burp, toot, squirm and may pull her legs up toward her belly. You might also be able to feel the tiny bubbles in your infant’s tummy as you hold her. Babies will typically pull off the nipple (breast or bottle) if they have built up gas and need to burp.
What can I do to help my baby?
The good news is that there are several effective strategies that can help ease gas pains in your baby. Try some of these tried and true solutions to help decrease the amount of gas your baby gets and to help with the discomfort when she does.
• Feed your baby in an upright position.
Try holding your baby in an upright position if feeding her with a bottle. This position helps to keep your baby’s head higher than her stomach and will allow the milk to flow to the bottom so the air goes straight to the top. This will make it easier for her to burp.
• Make sure the bottle nipple is tipped slightly upward and that there is only milk in the nipple.
This will help keep air bubbles out of the nipple.
• When mixing formula for milk, stir the mix and do not shake.
Shaking will cause more air bubbles to form and can cause more gas for your baby. If you do need to shake the bottle to mix the formula – then allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes before feeding it to baby so that the bubbles have time to dissolve.
• Watch your baby during a feeding.
Breastfeeding babies typically have a tight seal on the breast which many times will help to decrease the amount of gas they get. If your baby pulls off the breast to pause, or starts to get squirmy while nursing, unlatch her and try to give her a good burp. Some babies hate to be interrupted mid-feed and in those cases, it’s best to allow your baby to finish their feeding before trying to burp her.
• Try different bottles.
Some bottles promote an anti-gas design so if you find your baby is gassy, try a different bottle system. It’s always best to start off with a slow flow nipple. Your baby should be feeding with ease. If you find she is choking or sputtering, or if milk is flowing out of the sides of her mouth, then the nipple’s flow may be too fast for her or it might warrant you looking into another bottle. Many parents like Avent bottles for their unique design. Dr. Brown bottles are another popular choice. The Lansinoh mOmma feeding bottle and Comotomo Natural Feel Baby Bottle are favorites among nursing mothers.
• Burp your baby.
Its always advisable to burp your baby during or immediately after a feeding. This does not mean, however, that it is absolutely necessary to get a burp out of your baby. Parents should not have to sit there for 20 minutes pounding on their infants back. Try for 2-3 minutes and if she doesn’t burp, then lay her down for a few minutes and then pick her up. Sometimes going from a back to upright position can push the gas bubbles up and result in a good burp from your baby.
There are many effective burping positions, so you may want to try a few different ones. You can try over the shoulder, laying tummy down on your lap or sit your baby on your lap with her chin resting in your hand and rub or pat her back with your other hand. Find what position works best for your baby.
• Try a baby massage a few times a day.
Massaging your baby under her naval in a clockwise motion can help to ease both gas and constipation.
• Bicycle movements.
Try lying your baby on the floor, gently moving her legs in a motion similar to riding a bicycle. This will help decrease gas bubbles and move them through the body.
• Try changing your baby’s formula to one that is gentler on her system.
Many formula companies have created recipes that have broken down, pre-digested proteins to make it easier for your baby to digest. Some babies may have a sensitivity to milk proteins and may need to switch to a hypoallergenic brand. Please consult with your baby’s doctor before switching formulas.
• Make sure your baby gets lots of tummy time.
Regular tummy time can help ease your baby’s gas pains.
• Avoid foods that can cause gas if you are nursing.
If you are nursing and experience digestive problems with certain foods, then your baby may be sensitive to those same foods. This is not always the case but can be true for some babies. Foods that are known to cause gas are: cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts, beans, lentils, onions, garlic, milk products and caffeine.
• Gas Relieving Products.
There are several products on the market that claim to help relieve gas. Some parents have found many of them helpful. Please consult with your doctor regarding the use of the following items: Simethicone drops, Gripe Water, Colic Relieving Tablets, Probiotics and Special Nursing teas.