When a baby is gassy, it can be incredibly frustrating. Sure everyone tells you it's just a phase and this season will pass, but in the moment it's not exactly what you want to hear. Here's the truth: gas in babies is unavoidable, so if your baby is suffering from gas-related discomfort, you aren't alone.
What causes babies to have gas?
If you've been around a newborn for an extended amount of time, you're likely to notice to see the baby have a bit of gas. Just like adults, it's perfectly normal for newborn babies to have gas, in fact, most babies will start having gas symptoms around a few weeks of age. Gas is often caused by the combination of an immature digestive process and air that is swallowed while feeding or crying.
"Babies tend to swallow some air while they are breastfeeding or taking a bottle, and their digestive tracts are still learning how to process and deal with their gas," says Jean Moorjani, MD, a pediatrician at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. "In more rare instances, some breastfed babies may have more gas than usual depending on what their mom is eating."
What are the signs to look for?
Babies can show several different signs if they have gas. They may look uncomfortable, squirm and pull up their legs, or their faces may appear red, says Dr. Moorjani. Other noticeable signs include a hard belly, clenched fists and spitting up. The good news is, after their gas is passed, they will appear more comfortable and happy.
Gas is normal, but sometimes gas can be a sign of an underlying medical problem; therefore, it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting an at home remedy.
Here are 5 ways to relieve a gassy baby:
1. Use gripe water
Gripe water is an over-the-counter liquid supplement that can relieve the discomfort that newborns and infants face from not only gas, but also colic and hiccups. It typically contains natural herbal ingredients, such as ginger and fennel, that work together to calm hiccups and soothe upset tummies. Just be sure to get your pediatrician's approval before usage, and try to avoid brands that contain alcohol, which isn't recommended.
2. Ensure baby has a good latch
If your breastfeeding, getting a good latch can be a challenge, but if you line them up with their nose opposite your nipple, babies will take in less air. "If your baby is bottle-fed, sometimes slowing the flow with a slow flow nipple can help your baby reduce the amount of air that they swallow," says Moorjani. "You can also burp your baby throughout a feed to help them." If you're still unsure about your latch, you can always meet with a lactation consultant as well.
3. Offer a soft tummy rub
Softly stroke baby's belly in a clockwise direction, this follows the path of digestion and can help get the air moving in his tummy. If baby doesn't like that, try laying them on their backs and moving their legs in a bicycle motion to help their gas move through, says Dr. Moorjani.
4. Offer gentle remedies
To help your baby pass gas, try gentle gas relief drops. Made with simethicone, gas relief drops provide babies with nearly instant relief from that full, bloated feeling. Additionally, for babies six months and older, constipation ease can aid in giving babies comfort. It's made with ingredients like prune juice to help get things moving again quickly.
5. Hold baby in an upright position
When feeding your baby, holding their head higher than their stomach to reduce the amount of air that they swallow. After feeding, keep baby upright for an additional 20-30 minutes to ensure the milk is properly digested.