Gassy Baby

Infant gas is one of those things that every parent will experience! Although it’s completely normal to have a gassy baby, especially during the newborn stage as the digestive system is still maturing, it may help to know what causes gas and how to help your baby with it. Keep reading to learn what all those grunts and grimaces might mean when your little one is experiencing gas and some tips for baby gas relief.

What Causes a Gassy Baby?

Your baby sure is sweet, but they can also be a little gassy, and there’s a reason for that. Starting with the first feeding, babies shift from obtaining nutrients from the placenta to drinking and digesting breast milk or formula. That’s a big adjustment for a small digestive system that’s still developing, and it’s a chief reason why gas naturally occurs in infants. Overall, it takes time for your little one’s gastrointestinal tract to fully develop and build a microbiome (the mix of tiny organisms in the body, including healthy gut bacteria). And when an immature digestive system is challenged by too much air being swallowed, as often happens during a feeding, you’re even more likely to have a gassy baby, which can occur at night, too.

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Baby and Infant Gas Symptoms

You might notice that you have a gassy baby when you smell something or hear something, but there are other possible signs and symptoms of baby and infant gas, too, including:

  • Spitting up. It’s very common for babies to spit up after feedings. This is typically caused by swallowing too much air, which leads to gas. Spit-up is good, though, as it gets the air out before moving to the stomach and digestive tract.

  • Crying. Gas is just as uncomfortable for babies as it is for adults. The discomfort may cause your newborn to cry or be “fussy.”

  • Drawing legs up. If your baby moves their legs up toward their belly, it could signify abdominal pain caused by gas. Your little one is simply trying to relieve the discomfort with this motion.

  • Reduced appetite. Another common symptom of baby and infant gas is a reduced appetite. A gassy baby may suffer from cramping or bloating, followed by diarrhoea. This discomfort could affect their appetite.

These symptoms can lead to difficulties sleeping. For tips on merging feeding and sleep training, watch the video below!

How to Make Feeding Part of Baby Sleep Training
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Why Is My Baby So Gassy?

There’s no reason to be embarrassed by this question—you’re not the only parent asking! Excess infant gas can result from several factors, especially if you notice your baby crying with gas pains.

  • Food sensitivities or allergies. It’s not uncommon for newborns to have food intolerances that cause gas. A gassy breastfed baby is more susceptible to these sensitivities, which typically come from the mother’s diet. True food allergies are less common and will most likely cause other problems, such as a skin rash or wheezing, so you’ll want to consult your child’s healthcare provider ASAP.

  • Lactose intolerance. Most experts recommend baby formula produced with cow’s milk for its nutritional value. But if you use this type of formula and your baby is lactose intolerant, you may notice more gas, loose stools, nausea and vomiting.

  • Overeating due to breast milk oversupply or breast engorgement. If you’re breastfeeding and experience breast engorgement or an oversupply of breast milk, a gassy baby, whether during the day or at night, might be inevitable. Your newborn may instinctively gulp milk quickly, causing more air to make its way into the tummy. Later on, this air can form gas bubbles.

Gassy Baby Tips

How do I help my newborn with gas? This is another very common question from parents. Seeing your gassy baby at night or during the day dealing with this discomfort is difficult, and you want to help them find relief. The trick is to break up the gas bubbles in the abdomen and digestive tract. There are plenty of effective strategies and home remedies to help your newborn baby with gas problems. The following remedies may help.

1. Burp During and After Feedings

Because gas bubbles tend to form from the air that sneaks in during feeding, burping is your friend. It releases the air that can turn into gas bubbles in the tummy. Although it’s standard practice to burp your baby after feeding them, if they suffer from gas, you can try burping during feeding as well. This can help provide your baby some gas relief, especially at night when feeding before bed.

Tip

Your baby might not like interrupting a good meal to burp, so if you’re going to try this remedy, it helps to be consistent and create a routine for burping while feeding.

 

2. Encourage Slow Eating

If your baby eats too fast, they tend to swallow more air and develop more gas bubbles. You can encourage slower eating by using a bottle with a slow-flow nipple. If you’re breastfeeding and experiencing an oversupply of breast milk, speak to your healthcare provider for some pumping or breastfeeding tips.

 

Tip

A lactation consultant can be very helpful for those breastfeeding. If you’re interested in speaking to one, ask your healthcare provider to recommend a lactation expert to help you with any questions about breastfeeding, oversupply, breast engorgement, etc.
 

 

3. Use the Right Bottle

Slow-flow nipples are a game-changer, but so are slow-flow, vented, angled, or collapsible baby bottles. Professionals designed these varieties to limit the amount of air your baby swallows while eating—perfect for helping a gassy baby!

Tip

Perhaps your baby eats too fast and swallows air, which causes gas bubbles. In that case, try using an angled bottle with a slow-flow nipple or play around with different positions when breastfeeding.

 

4. Identify Food Sensitivities

If you have a gassy breastfed baby, they could be sensitive to the foods you’re eating. Some common foods that may cause gas in breastfed babies include caffeine, dairy products, onions, cabbage and spicy foods. You can try to identify these foods and eliminate them from your diet for at least one week to see if it helps your gassy baby.

Tip

Can coffee make a baby gassy? Unfortunately for those coffee drinkers, the caffeine in coffee and other beverages can be a factor in baby gas. Try eliminating or reducing your intake to see if it makes a difference, and consult your healthcare provider with any questions.

 

5. Change Formula

The best formula for gassy babies depends a lot on individual factors. To start, most experts will recommend formulas with a cow’s-milk base. But as mentioned above, your little one might have a milk allergy or lactose intolerance. In that case, a soy-based formula fortified with iron, or a hypoallergenic formula, might be a better choice. If you’re considering swapping formulas, it’s best to consult your child’s healthcare provider. A gassy baby might not need to change to a different formula, but the provider will be able to address the problem and help you successfully switch if needed.

Tip

Always consult your child’s healthcare provider before switching formulas and changing your baby’s diet. Sometimes, the culprit isn’t the formula itself, and another remedy may be the better solution.

6. Position Your Baby for Gas Relief

There are a few positions that can help provide baby gas relief by supporting the stomach and digestive system.

  1. Left side. Gently roll your baby onto the left side while holding them in your arms. You may want to try an infant massage for gas relief by rubbing their back.

  2. On the back. Place your baby on the back while moving their legs as if they were cycling. On the back is also the best sleeping position for a gassy baby (and the best and safest sleeping position for all infants until their first birthday).

  3. On the tummy. Tummy time has lots of benefits, among them being that it may help aid digestion. A little pressure on the abdomen may keep things moving and help break up those gas bubbles.

Tip

If your baby is very gassy at night, consider all three positions before putting them down in their crib. Start with the soothing left side position to relieve any pain, then enjoy some tummy time before bed. When you put your baby down on their back to sleep, move their legs around a bit.

7. Try Baby Gas Drops

Gas medicine for babies doesn’t always work, but it could be worth a try if other remedies don’t provide any relief. Baby gas drops typically use simethicone, which causes an antifoaming effect to relieve bloating and pain caused by gas. It’s generally thought to be safe for babies, but make sure you read the label and instructions, so you know how much to give your baby.

Tip

Always consult your child’s healthcare provider before giving your newborn or young baby any medicine, even over-the-counter varieties.

 

How to soothe a gassy baby

Gassy Baby or Colic?

Your baby’s primary way of communication is crying, and since gas can result in crying or fussiness, it’s often mistaken for colic. Colic is a little different, though. Colic occurs when healthy babies repeatedly cry intensely and for prolonged periods, often at the same time each day. If the culprit is gas, you’ll be able to find some relief; babies with colic usually cry for no apparent reason and can’t always be soothed. However, there is some overlap between a baby with colic and a gassy baby. Contributing factors for both conditions may include

  • an underdeveloped digestive system

  • imbalance of bacteria in the gut (microbiome)

  • food allergies or sensitivities

  • overfeeding

  • not burping enough.

There are still many unknowns about colic, but it’s common for babies to grow out of it or for the symptoms to lessen by 4 months. Still, every baby is different, and your child’s healthcare provider can help you better understand the condition and offer advice for baby gas relief or colic.

FAQS AT A GLANCE

A gassy baby is a normal baby, but you can find ways to comfort your little one. Gas usually develops from air bubbles that sneak into the tummy during feedings. We have plenty of tips to help, but one of the best is encouraging your baby to eat more slowly.

There are a few remedies you can try at home that may help a gassy baby at night. We offer a few different solutions, but positioning is the key. Support the digestive system by positioning your baby on the back, tummy, or left side.

When feeding, you want to help your baby avoid swallowing extra air. We’ve got plenty of tips for baby gas relief, but when feeding, try positioning your little one at an angle or use an angled bottle. After eating, position your little one on the left side or tummy, or place them on the back and move their legs in a cycling motion.

Infant gas is completely normal, and even excessive gas isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. Your baby is still developing their digestive system, and switching to breastmilk or formula is a big adjustment! We’ve included plenty of reasons why baby gas happens and a few tips on how to provide relief.

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The Bottom Line

Yes, a gassy baby (even a gassy baby at night) is normal, but, of course, you may still want to know how to help your baby with gas. Chances are, the problem is just temporary as your newborn develops a strong digestive system and gets used to a new diet of breast milk or formula. If the gas is intense or causing your baby pain, talk to your child’s healthcare provider. Your little one may suffer from a food allergy or simply need a different type of formula. Just remember that babies cry to communicate, and you’re doing a great job!

How We Wrote This Article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.