Gas discomfort upsets almost every baby to some degree and it affects both breast-fed and bottle-fed babies. We’ve all had gas pain. It’s that uncomfortable, crampy feeling you get when a gas bubble is trying to work its way through your digestive system.
What is baby gas anyway? “Generally, when baby is suffering from gas, the stomach is inflated with air, which has either occurred from the digestion process or baby has swallowed a lot of air while feeding. Baby gas can lead to bloating, pain or irritation. No wonder gas pain is often blamed when baby’s fussy and squirmy. But baby gas is far from an official diagnosis, and what a lot of parents think is gas in babies might actually be something else.
New parents are often surprised at the big noises that come out of a small baby. In fact, newborns can be quite the loud orchestra and gas is often part of the series. It is common in babies in the first three months of life while their intestines are maturing. It's also common between ages 6 and 12 months, when they're trying lots of different foods for the first time.
Several factors could cause your child to have a gassy tummy. Here, some common reasons for a gassy baby:
- Drinking too quickly. If the nipple on baby’s bottle has too fast of a flow, or if a breastfeeding mom has an overactive supply, baby will end up gulping the milk down, which can cause gas.
- Drinking too slowly. If the nipple on baby’s bottle has too slow of a flow, baby may suck in extra air while drinking formula, also leading to gas pain.
- Drinking formula with air bubbles. If you’re mixing powdered milk for baby, make sure to let it sit for a couple minutes before feeding. The more you shake the formula, the air bubbles enter the milk, which can lead to a gassy baby.
Crying for extended periods. Baby can also become gassy if she swallows air while crying for an extended period of time—which is why calming baby quickly is important.
Ingesting gas-inducing foods. Baby gas can also happen naturally as food is broken down during the digestive process. It’s even more likely to occur if baby has a food intolerance to something she’s eaten, or something mom’s eaten that makes its way into the breast milk.
Babies can't simply tell us when they need to pass gas, so as with many things involving small children, discovering what's bugging your baby is often a process of elimination it’s a natural and common occurrence in infants and although some babies seem to have no trouble passing gas, others can get a little stuck. Here's how to spot a baby with gas and help her pass it.
Of course, it can be hard to know if baby gas is the cause of your child’s discomfort, especially when he can’t tell you what’s going on. But there are a few common signs of a gassy baby you can look out for are
- Squirming post-feeding
- Clenched fists
- Pulling legs up toward the tummy
The way to know for sure that baby gas is to blame is when baby actually burps or passes gas. If you get a few burps out of baby or do something else to move things along, most babies are relieved of the symptoms and will stop crying
When baby keeps crying despite passing gas, you know that there’s something else going on,” like reflux, constipation or colic, which is sometimes confused for extended gassiness in baby. Constipation may also look very much like baby gas, with baby writhing and struggling. But you can tell baby’s constipated if the stool isn’t soft but rather comes out in hard pellets.
Remember whether you offer the breast or bottle, if baby is prone to gas, then routine burping is important. Burp baby immediately after a feeding. If the baby is unable to burb try to help coax the gas out by placing your baby on a flat surface, belly down. Lifting her up slightly on her stomach, gently massage her belly. Or place her on her back and "try moving her legs and hips around as if she [were] riding a bike.
Often these kinds of motions break up bubbles and give gas that little extra push it needs to work its way out. You can also try a nice, warm bath to relieve the discomfort. Almost all babies find some baby gas relief by sucking on a pacifier too, because the sucking action releases endorphins that will soothe baby.
Now If you’re able to comfort baby through swaddling, rocking, bouncing, feeding or burping, then you’re doing okay, but if the crying is prolonged, you should consult your pediatrician before giving baby any other medications, remedies or supplements.
However If you want to avoid baby gas pain, your best bet is to stop gas from building in the first place. Make sure you’re properly positioning baby during feedings so she’s swallowing as little air as possible. “Hold baby in your arms and elevate her head while she’s drinking. If you’re bottle-feeding baby, make sure to tilt the bottle to let as little air into the nipple as possible.
Remember that babies are just getting accustomed to this world. As they grow older, most will become far less gassy and fussy. Their digestive tracts will learn how to function well. In the first three months of life, babies are not well-equipped to calm themselves. Self-calming is a skill that develops slowly over time and at different rates in children.