Figuring out what foods to avoid when breastfeeding for gas can have a positive effect on your feeding routine and help keep your baby comfortable and calm after eating. This is because a breastfeeding mother's diet can affect breast milk and consequently have an impact on a baby's feeding habits.
This article will cover signs that a baby is gassy, a particular food that may be the culprit in a mother's diet, other causes of gas in babies, and tips for managing gas in infants.
Signs Your Breastfed Baby Is Gassy
As a parent, you probably have a keen eye for recognizing when your baby is not acting like themselves. Babies passing gas is completely normal and expected, especially when adjusting to dietary changes, but excessive amounts and prolonged discomforts should be addressed and managed. Behaviors outside of your baby's norm can, in some cases, indicate an underlying problem or condition that should be addressed with your pediatrician.
Understanding the link between your diet and breast milk can help you spot signs that your little one is dealing with gas. When it comes to gassiness, there are a few signs and symptoms to look out for that may indicate your little one is experiencing discomfort. Here are some of them:
Signs of physical discomfort in body language such as squirminess or pulling legs up to the chest
Consistent crying, often for an hour or more
Appearing to be unhappy or fussy often
Unable to sleep
Foods That May Cause Gas In Breastfed Babies
Many new mothers decide to practice an elimination diet as a way to ease their baby's symptoms. This does not work in every case, but can be worth a try if you suspect your baby's gassiness is linked to your diet. There are certain foods that are more likely to cause gassiness in babies such as:
Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower
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.
Should You Eliminate Gassy Food While Breastfeeding?
It is not necessary to eliminate foods when breastfeeding unless you have reason to believe that your diet is causing your baby’s gas. This may come as a relief as many mothers experience an increased appetite while breastfeeding. Even though your diet and breast milk are linked, in many cases, the foods you eat won't affect your baby, especially if you are eating a healthy, balanced diet.
How Long Do Gassy Foods Stay In Breastmilk?
Studies show that it can take up to a couple of weeks for certain proteins to no longer be detectable in breast milk. If you are going to attempt an elimination diet, try avoiding gas-inducing foods for a few weeks to see if this helps your baby. If the problem persists, there might be another factor causing their gassiness.
Gassy Baby: Other Causes
Infant gas can be caused by several factors outside of a breastfeeding mother's diet. These causes can include:
Swallowing too much air when feeding or crying. This is very common and completely normal among newborns.
An underdeveloped digestive system in young infants. This can cause food to pass through too quickly so it doesn't break down completely, thus causing gas.
Hypersensitivitiesto certain types of formula or foods in a breastfeeding mother's diet. In rare cases, gassiness can indicate a possible food allergy, a cow's milk protein allergy, or lactose intolerance.
Change or adjust feeding positions. If your little one is bottle feeding, it may be beneficial to tip the bottle up slightly or switch to a slower-flow nipple to reduce air bubbles. Additionally, feeding your baby in an upright position can reduce the amount of air they swallow.
Time feedings correctly. It is important to not wait until your baby is having a meltdown to feed them (Although this can be unpredictable, especially in newborns). So, make sure to look out for hunger cues as the more your baby cries, the more air they will swallow.
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.
Tummy time. There are many benefits to tummy time from strengthening back and neck muscles, preparing them for crawling and walking and helping with baby gas relief due to the slight pressure it puts on their tummy.
Baby massage. In some cases, helping your baby's body relax with a gentle massage can be enough to help with gassiness. All you have to do is gently massage your baby's stomach in a clockwise motion.
Baby Burps. To help prevent a buildup of gas, burp your baby by also gently patting their back more than once during feedings.
Switch formulas. If none of the above methods have worked, it may be time to switch formulas. In most cases, this should be done gradually so as to not overwhelm your little one's delicate digestive system. Several formulas are available that accommodate a range of dietary needs such as anti-reflux and hypoallergenic formulas. Always consult your pediatrician prior to making any changes to your baby's diet.
Probiotics can be a great tool for your baby's digestive health, as research has found that they may help reduce gassiness. These live microorganisms, which can be found in popular foods like kimchi and yogurt are known to improve the gut microbiome.
They can also be found in some baby formulas that are made for infants with tummy troubles. While probiotics are generally considered safe, make sure you talk to your pediatrician before giving your baby any product containing probiotics.
Please be aware that this information is based on general trends in babies, and it is not medical advice. Your 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 before making any decisions about your child’s diet or if you notice any changes in your child.
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.
Agustina Fernandez is a medical doctor, who graduated from Universidad Nacional de Cordoba, in Argentina. She has experience working in an emergency room of a public hospital, where she helped many patients with urgent diseases. However, her true passion are children and she is planning on doing her specialization degree in Pediatrics soon. In the past year, she has become interested in researching about infant nutrition, including breastfeeding, infant formula and food in the first years of little ones' lives.
Dr. Hsu received his medical degree from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, and holds a Master’s of Science degree from both Harvard University and Tufts University.
Dr. Hsu did research in MRI neuroimaging research of fetal brains at Boston Children’s Hospital, an affiliated hospital of Harvard Medical School. Dr. Hsu is currently a full-time medical writer and consultant.
Outside of the medical profession, Dr. Hsu loves to write, learn new languages, and travel