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Gas and babies seem to go hand-in-hand, but there’s no need to worry! Not only is baby gas normal, but it's also extremely common. Babies' digestive systems are immature, so it’s normal that a little gas would be created as they adjust and grow.
How to prevent and ease baby gas: 6 top tips
While gas may be common, what happens if your baby seems to experience discomfort, pain, or fussiness? Luckily, there are things you can do to help alleviate your little one’s tummy troubles.
Try these 6 expert tips to see if they are able to keep the toots at bay.
1. Check your diet
Often, what mom eats can make its way to baby and cause gas for their tiny tummies. What’s more, if a baby has an allergy or food sensitivity, the gas can sometimes be accompanied with diarrhea. If you’re breastfeeding, here are some common examples of foods that may be causing your baby’s gas:
- Beans and lentils
- Cruciferous vegetables like leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli or brussels sprouts
- Dairy (think yogurt, milk, cheese or ice cream)
- Spicy foods (chilies, hot sauces, curries)
- Aromatic vegetables like shallots, onions or garlic
The best way to check if a food you’re eating is giving your baby gas is to try what’s called an elimination diet. For up to two weeks, remove a suspected food from your diet and see if your baby’s gas problems ease. If a food seems to be a culprit, try eating it only in moderation. It’s always best to consult with your doctor to ensure you’re getting a balanced diet while you eliminate and test certain foods.
2. Let the formula settle
If you’re using a powdered formula, make sure you let your freshly mixed bottle settle for a minute or two before feeding your baby. Why? The more shaking and blending involved, the more air bubbles get into the mix, which can then be swallowed by your baby and result in gas. Try using warm (but not too hot) water compared to cold or room temperature water. This helps the formula dissolve more effectively, thus eliminating bubbles from tons of shaking.
- Tip: If you’re in a rush, gently tapping the bottom of the bottle on the counter or table can help bubbles rise to the top more quickly.
3. Swap bottles for gassy babies
Some bottles are specifically designed to reduce the amount of air that is swallowed during feedings. If your baby is having problems with gas, try a vented, angled, or collapsible style. Make sure to hold baby’s head elevated at a 45-degree angle and tip the bottle downward into their mouth with the nipple full of milk, not air.
Know the nipple your gassy baby needs
Nipples come in different sizes (based on age) and control the flow of the formula. For example, a nipple for a newborn has a slow flow, while a nipple for an older baby flows much quicker. Make sure you are using an age-appropriate nipple.
If your baby has outgrown their nipple size, they might be sucking in a lot of air with the formula. And extra air means a higher of having gas (and gas pains.) At the same time, if the nipple flow is too fast, your baby is gulping too much formula at once, which can also cause gas.
- Tip: Make a baby feeding supplies list, and test out different bottle and nipple sizes until you find the right one for your little one.
Burp baby after feeding
It’s best to try to keep your baby upright for 20 to 30 minutes after a feeding. If they’re still gassy, burping can help release any gas pockets from your baby swallowing too much air. Gently pat your baby, starting at the lower back and working your way up. There are a few different ways to help make your baby burp, so try one of these burping positions:
- Hold your baby against your chest (with their body facing yours). Ensure their head is on your shoulder. Then pat and rub their back.
- Have your baby sit on your lap. Support their chest and head with one hand while patting their back with the other. Make sure you’re holding your baby’s chin and not their throat.
- Lay your baby flat against your lap with the belly face down. Support your little one’s head and make sure it’s higher than their chest. Gently rub or pat their back.
If you can’t produce a burp in your baby with one position, then try another. You’ll probably find that one position works best for your little one.
Try a formula designed for gas
Some doctors recommend an elimination diet to see if there’s something in the formula that is setting off your baby’s digestion. If you think the current formula isn’t best for baby, you can try switching formulas to formulas designed to ease gas issues. These formulas can help fussiness and crying and are gentle on a baby’s sensitive tummy. They have easy-to-digest protein and provide complete nutrition—including brain-nourishing nutrients like DHA—for your baby’s growth and development.
Quick steps for a gassy baby’s pain relief
Is your little one still experiencing gas? Holding a warm (not hot) towel against your baby’s belly can bring comfort as well. You can also try soothing your baby by rocking or walking with them, or by putting them in a swing or vibrating chair.
How to prepare for your pediatrician appointment
Some degree of infant gas is to be expected—in fact, a happy, gassy baby is perfectly normal. But if you’ve implemented the tips above and are worried, or if you think your little one is in pain, call your pediatrician for an appointment.
Follow these tips below before you meet with the pediatrician. Also, when you book the appointment, ask your pediatrician if there is anything additional or specific you should do in preparation for the visit.
- Write down all of your baby’s issues and your worries.
- When do you notice the gas? Is it after eating? When baby first wakes up?
- Does your baby seem to be in pain when they have gas? What are their issues: crying, fussiness, spitting up?
- Log everything you are giving your baby.
- Vitamins or other nutritional supplements
- Type of formula
- Breast milk
- Any solids
- Note any changes in your baby lately.
- Sleep pattern
- Eating habits
- Also, write down your list of questions (see below for an extensive list) and bring them with you.
With time, many babies’ digestive issues improve. But right now, your doctor can help you find a path to comfort for your baby and ease your mind that there may be nothing serious underlying the gas issues.
Newborn Gas: What questions to ask your pediatrician
Pediatricians are there for information, advice, and assurance, so don’t be afraid to reach out to them. Along with the above Here are some key questions to help you get the answers you and your baby need.
- What could be causing my baby’s gas?
- If I’m breast-feeding, is it something in my diet?
- Should I switch formulas to reduce gas?
- My baby is only gassy after they eat—could it be an allergy?
- What’s the best way to burp my baby?
- How often should my baby be burped?
- I can’t get my baby to burp; is it alright if I don’t burp them?
- Should I try baby exercises to reduce gas?
- How do I know if my baby is in pain due to the gas?
- When will baby outgrow this gas?
- Could infant gas be associated with a more serious problem?
Gassy baby: Fact vs fiction
As with many topics related to pregnancy and birth, there are a few Old Wives’ Tales out there that are more rooted in superstition compared to truth. It’s important to find out what’s fact—and what’s myth—about causes of gas in babies and the best ways to reduce it.
Burping can be a good way to alleviate gas in your little one.
Fact: It’s not uncommon for babies to swallow too much air when they feed, whether at the breast or the bottle. If your baby starts to get fussy, it’s best to pause feeding and give them a burp. Sometimes babies will fuss because they swallow air pockets as they feed. A nice burp solves that problem!
There’s no wrong way to burp a baby.
Fiction: While sometimes intimidating at first, burping is easy once you get the hang of it. With that in mind, there are certainly some dos and don’ts. For instance, you should gently pat your baby, starting at the lower back and working your way up. Don’t pound too hard. If you can’t produce a burp in your baby with one position, then try another. Check above for three potential burping positions.
A warm towel on your baby’s belly helps with gas.
Fact: Sometimes a warm towel on your baby’s belly might do the trick in relieving gas. At the very least, a warm compress has been shown to alleviate gas discomfort. Just be sure to test the temperature and make sure it’s not too hot.
Your baby’s mood could help prevent gas.
Fact: This one may come as a surprise, but if your baby is keyed up when you’re feeding, they’re more likely to gulp air as they cry or rush through mealtime. And crying and fussing can mean more gas bubbles. It’s not always easy, but do your best to calm baby down before you begin feeding. Babies are also highly intuitive, so do your best to remain calm yourself, and your little one may follow suit. Limiting interruptions and distractions during feeding also helps.
Gas in babies could be caused by a sensitivity to milk-based formula.
Fact: Sometimes it’s the immaturity of your baby’s digestive tract that can keep some nutrients from being digested, causing gas. However, other times gas in a baby could hint at an underlying issue, such as allergies or sensitivities. Talk with your doctor about your worries and bring your baby in for an appointment to get to the bottom of it.
Sometimes switching formulas, baby bottles, or nipples can help ease gas.
Fact: Some nipples and bottles are made specifically for babies who have gas. It’s best to have baby feeding supplies on hand that reduce the amount of air your baby inhales during the feeding. Also, you can talk with your doctor about trying a formula designed for babies with gas.
While having a gassy baby may cause you a few worries, there are several steps to take to help alleviate tummy troubles. By switching up feeding habits and arming yourself with the right tools, you and your doctor should be able to get to the bottom of your baby’s gas in no time. Learning more about other feeding difficulties can ensure that you’ll be well prepared for managing mealtime, and have the happiest baby possible.