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August 16, 2022 10 min read
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If you are reading this, there's a good chance that you either just welcomed a new baby to this world, or you have a little one on the way. There are so many milestones to look forward to in the beginning months, but there will likely also be a few learning curves for you and your baby. Your baby's little body needs to learn the ropes of life outside of the womb, and as a parent, you need to learn how to care for this new human life.
For many babies, part of this adjustment period involves some gas, as their digestive systems work hard to strengthen and adapt to the new substances entering their tummy. Many babies struggle with gas at times, some worse than others, but there are a few ways to reduce the severity and ease discomfort. Keep on reading for information on the main causes of gas and how to relieve a gassy baby.
Having gassy newborns is not often a cause for concern as gas is a normal function of the digestive system. When we eat, the food travels through our gastrointestinal tract, and all the ingredients that the small intestine isn't able to absorb, are broken down by bacteria in the large intestine. This process releases hydrogen and carbon dioxide which produce bubbles of gas. Usually burping can help your baby release some air from the stomach, but the rest moves to the colon which is how gas builds up.
Babies however are still developing and, given their underdeveloped digestive systems, gas doesn't always pass easily which can cause discomfort. Another reason that your little one may be gassy is because babies tend to take in air during bouts of crying and while feeding. Infant gas is completely common and is usually outgrown by the end of your baby's newborn stage (typically their first three months of life), but in some cases it can last beyond their fourth and sixth month of life.
Now that we know why babies get gassy, let's look at what usually causes gas in babies, how to know when there is something more going on, and how to help soothe a gassy baby. If your baby's gas is extreme, persistent and doesn't seem to subside through different gas relief techniques, it would be best to contact your child's pediatrician.
As mentioned earlier, it is perfectly normal for your newborn baby to have gas. However, there are signs and symptoms to look out for that may indicate something more is going on that is causing the gas. Signs to look out for that your little one is struggling with gas include:
Having trouble eating or sleeping
Increased irritability or grumpiness
Appears to be in pain or uncomfortable while crying
Your baby seems to be having trouble eating or sleeping and although there could be a number causes for this, gas pain could be one of them. You might want to call your doctor in order to make a better assessment, especially if they seem to be particularly uncomfortable after eating.
If your baby tends to be fussy for up to an hour or so each day and it doesn't seem to show any signs of improvement, it might be an indicator that they are experiencing a level of gas that exceeds the normal amount of infant gas.
If your newborn seems to be unhappy or grumpy majority of the time, this could possibly indicating an abnormal level of gas.
Babies cry for a variety of reasons and most are completely harmless and easily resolved. However, if your newborn baby gets red in the face when they cry and the crying is persistent it may indicator gas pain and they may need a little extra help relieving the pain.
If they seem particularly uncomfortable and you notice them pull their legs up to their chest or squirm frequently, it can indicate that there is gas that is not easily passing.
If your baby starts showing visible signs of discomfort when they pass gas, it is important to look closely into what is causing the painful gas.
Here are some of the possible causes of gas pains:
Underdeveloped digestive system
Minor digestive problems
If your baby were to swallow air, this could cause your baby to be gassy. When your baby eats or while they cry, they tend to swallow a lot of air, and too much air can lead to a buildup of gas.
Learn more: Best Bottles for Breastfed Babies
When food goes down their digestive tract, the infant's immature body might still be unable to breakdown food completely, causing young babies to pass too much gas.
Constipation and gastrointestinal conditions, such as acid reflux may explain why your baby has gas.
Studies suggest that there might be a correlation between a gassy baby and the parent's diet. Breastfed babies can be hypersensitive to foods found in the mom's diet. Before eing alarmed and reforming your whole meal plan, make sure you try some of the home remedies we propose.
If your baby's gas persist, and you notice that every time you eat a certain type of food they seem gassier or fussier than usual, you could try cutting that food from your diet to see if it helps. Work with your doctor to nail down foods that might make breastfed babies gassy, which may include:
Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower
Dairy and eggs
Meals that contain a lot of spice, onions or garlic
In other words, all of those harder to digest foods that would trigger gas in you could also trigger gas in your child. The gas-causing food you eat ends up in your breast milk, which might mean extra gas for your little one.
In the case of formula fed babies certain types of formula or in less rare cases, food allergies or intolerance may be causing the gas. If your baby has skin rashes, vomiting, diarrhea or blood in their stool, this could be indicators of a food allergy, in which case it is best to consult your child's pediatrician.
When your infant gets older and eats solid foods, the introduction of products that they might be sensitive to, could be the reason why your baby is gassy.
In some rare cases, the baby's gas may be caused by a virus. If you are concerned that your baby has a virus it is best to call their pediatrician and explain your concerns.
Bottle fed babies pass gas just like any other infant, but if you suspect that your child has more gas than usual you may consider introducing them to a new formula. If so, please make sure to speak with your pediatrician before switching products.
There are a few types of products on the market that tend to be gentler on the tummy and work wonderfully for babies who are prone to gas. If your baby is overall in good health, products that have hydrolyzed proteins may help to alleviate digestive discomfort. Goats milk formulas are also a good choice as they have simpler proteins that are typically easier to digest.
There are also a number of specialized formulas on the market that target specific digestive issues. These specialized formulas contains different carbohydrates and proteins which could work better for gassy babies:
Hypoallergenic formula: The proteins (casein or whey) contained in this product - also found in milk - are broken down into easier-to-digest proteins.
Lactose-free formula: There are rare cases in which some babies cannot digest lactose, so this formula type replaces it with naturally occurring sugar found in foods, like sucrose and glucose.
Baby formula for acid reflux: Helps babies that tend to vomit after feeding given its thicker consistency compared regular formula.
If you are interested in trying a goat's milk formula or a formula with hydrolyzed proteins we have some great options!
Holle Goat Milk formula: This product is made with smaller fat molecules and less lactose for easier digestion.
HiPP Comfort formula: This product contains hydrolyzed proteins and has less lactose which may make it easier to digest.
HiPP HA Hypoallergenic formula: This product contains hydrolyzed proteins and contains natural probiotic lactic acid cultures extracted from real breast milk.
Gas and colic are not the same thing, but they can cause similar symptoms. Because of this, you might mistake your gassy baby for a colicky baby. Scientists are still researching the direct causes of a colicky baby, but it is certain that they go beyond an immature digestive system. Even though gas doesn't cause colic, gas pain can make a colicky baby feel even worst.
Colicky babies can be especially hard to soothe, they go through long periods of excessive crying, especially at night. Colic usually appears in the first few weeks of life of a baby and will subside by the time they reach three or four months old.
Before jumping into any conclusion, remember that the best way to accurately determine whether your infant has colic is to contact your pediatrician.
There are a number of simple home remedies that you can try to alleviate infant gas and release the gas buildup in your newborn.
Here are some of the home remedies that are known to help relieve gas pain:
Move your baby's legs in a circle
Baby bicycle is a simple exercise that can help your baby release gas. All you have to do is to lay your baby on their back and delicately cycle their legs in a bicycle motion toward their tummy to manually help squeeze out trapped gas.
As an alternative, you could gently push the baby's knees towards their tummy and hold for up to 10 seconds, release and straighten their legs. Repeat multiple times as needed.
Tummy time is important as it strengthens the neck's and back's muscles of your baby, preparing them for when they'll start to crawl and walk. In addition to that, it is perfect for providing that gentle pressure on the baby's tummy that can also help with baby gas relief and clearing the baby's digestive tract.
Since some babies spit up if you put them on their tummies right after they eat, it is advised to avoid tummy time soon after you feed them. It is best to wait at least 20 to 30 minutes.
Always supervise your baby during tummy time and never put your baby to bed on their stomach, as it increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Baby massage is another way to help with your baby's gas pain. Gently massaging your baby's stomach in a clockwise motion is useful for relaxing the baby enough for passing gas. After massaging their tummy, continue to the rest of their bodies - back, shoulders, legs.
Swallowing air is among one of the reasons why your baby has gas. They tend to do so while they are being fed, as there can be a lot of crying, devouring and breathing in air quickly and deeply. All this swallowed air can turn into gas. To help prevent a buildup of gas, burp your baby by also gently patting their back more than once during feedings.
Additionally, bottle-fed babies can ingest a lot of bubbles so to avoid it from happening, you may want to tilt the bottle at an angle that fills the entire nipple with milk.
This liquid supplement, known as baby gripe water is a blend of sodium bicarbonate and herbs (like fennel, ginger and chamomile) can provide natural relief for a gassy baby. Although there is no evidence that gripe water soothes fussy babies, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) believes they’re a safe option to try, although it is best to check with your doctor to be sure.
Probiotics are known for the ways they support your gastrointestinal system and are naturally found in fermented foods like kimchi and yogurt as well as in supplements and formulas marketed for tummy troubles in babies. Research has found that probiotics may help reduce gassiness, likely by supporting gut health. While probiotics are generally considered safe, make sure you to talk to your doctor before giving your baby any probiotic product.
Although baby drops are not scientifically proven to work to help relieve gas, if you are out of options, they might be worth trying.
As a precaution, make sure you consult with your doctor prior to giving your baby gas drops and look for those that contain Simethicone, which is considered safe to use. Make sure you avoid drops that contain sodium benzoate or benzoic acid, as those ingredients can become harmful to your baby when given in large quantities.
Whether their meals come from breast or bottle feeding, try feeding your baby in an upright position to reduce the amount of air they swallow as your baby's feeding position is a top priority to understand. If you’re breastfeeding, be sure your baby is properlysecure. In the case of bottle-fed babies, try anti-gas or a slow flow nipple and bottle, which can change the flow of milk and help reduce the amount of air your baby swallows. Be sure that the nipple is always completely full with milk, so your baby doesn’t chase formula with air. It is also recommended to avoid shaking the bottle too much, which can add extra bubbles to the milk.
Crying is not always predictable — especially in newborns. Although, the more your baby cries, the more air they will swallow (and the more gas they will have). So as much as possible, learn the early hunger cues in your little one and feed them accordingly.
It’s always a good idea to consult your pediatrician whenever you are worried about your child's well-being, even if it might not seem like a big deal. We advise you, however, to call your doctor right away if you notice that your infants gas symptoms are accompanied by any of the following:
blood in their stool
loss of appetite
allergic reaction to foods
Please be aware that this information is based on general trends evidenced in babies, it is in no way medical advice. Your baby's doctor should be your first source of information and advice when considering any changes to your child’s formula, and when choosing your child’s formula. Always consult your pediatrician prior to making any decisions about your child’s diet or if you notice any changes in your child.
Disclaimer: Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your baby, because breast milk provides your child with all the essential nutrients they need for growth and development. Please consult your pediatrician if your child requires supplemental feeding.
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