When baby’s not happy, no one is happy. Gas is uncomfortable for infants, and they’ll alert you to their discomfort in no uncertain terms. But remember that gas is normal! If your baby has gas, it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong. All humans produce gas in their digestive systems. But in the case of babies, moving that gas out could take some assistance.
Alleviating their pain takes a combination of preventive and treatment efforts, but these simple steps can make all the difference!
How Do You Know It’s Gas?
When babies are uncomfortable, it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint the cause of their distress. Babies with gas will often be squirmy, as they struggle to get comfortable. They may cry and be fussier than normal, bring their legs up to their chest and kick, or have trouble sleeping.
What Causes Baby Gas?
There are several possible causes for infant gas. Some believe that breast-fed babies can get the effects of gaseous foods (like certain vegetables and beans) from their mother’s breast milk. Acidic foods and excess dairy products in mom’s diet can also be to blame. But what mom eats isn’t the only problem.
If your baby’s bottle-fed, they could be having a reaction to their formula. Food intolerance often shows up as gas and bloating. If this is the culprit, you’re also likely to see other digestive problems like diarrhea.
One of the more common causes is more benign. Swallowing too much air while eating — whether breast-fed or bottle-fed — can cause gas.
How to Prevent Baby Gas
1. Sealed Lips
Perhaps the easiest way to prevent gas in babies is to minimize the amount of air they’re swallowing. In breast-fed infants, this means ensuring that their lips are creating a seal on the areola. If you’re using bottles, make sure your baby is putting their lips towards the base of the nipple, not just the tip.
2. Tilt the Bottle
Bottles create a unique opportunity for air, so make sure you tilt the bottle up to about 30 or 40 degrees, so that the air rises to the bottom as they’re feeding. An alternative: Try using collapsible bags that eliminate air and reduce the risk of gas.
3. Burp the Baby
Burp your baby both during and after feeding. Your baby might not like this, especially if they are very hungry, but by eliminating the air midway through their feeding, you reduce the likelihood that it will be carried into the digestive system.
4. Eat Differently
If you’re breast-feeding, try to reduce the amount of gassy foods you’re eating. This includes dairy products and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli.
How to Treat Baby Gas
If your baby already has gas, it’s a little too late for prevention! Immediately after feeding, keep your baby upright. This will make it easier for them to burp.
If they’re already feeling discomfort, try laying your baby on their back and moving their legs in a bicycle motion. Alternately, give your baby time on their tummy. Lying stomach-down will help them move the gas out.
You could also try these techniques to comfort them and help move the gas from their little bodies:
Carry baby in a “football hold.” This involves holding your infant facedown across your arm, with their legs straddling your elbow and the side of their face in your hand — as if you are running her in for a touchdown! Many babies find this additional pressure on their abdomen to be comforting to an upset tummy.
If natural approaches fail, consider gas drops made of simethicone. Because they aren’t cheap and only work in some babies, this is more of a last resort.
Comforting a fussy baby isn’t easy, particularly when you know they’re uncomfortable. But gas is normal in infants, so learning a few different approaches to help minimize the disruption will make everyone in the household a little happier.