What causes a baby to be gassy?
The human body’s production and release of gas is a natural part of the digestive process. As food moves through your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, the small intestine draws out useful ingredients. Meanwhile, the bacteria in the large intestine break down what’s left, expelling gas as a by-product. Occasionally, gas will accumulate in the digestive tract and lead to bloating.
Being prone to this kind of accumulation, the average baby is actually capable of producing more gas than an adult male! More than 70 percent of infants experience gassiness, regardless of their feeding method. While children of all ages can experience gas pain, it’s particularly troublesome for newborns whose digestive systems are underdeveloped.
Intestinal disorders aside, excessive gas is also created when your baby is crying or feeding and inhaling a lot of air along the way. Read on for more info on how to diagnose a gassy baby.
Signs your baby has gas pains
Despite the discomfort they’re feeling, a gassy baby can’t tell you the location or nature of their problem. In order to find an effective method of baby gas relief, you’ll need to carefully observe the signs and symptoms of a gassy baby:
- Burping: if your child is frequently burping, then too much air is being swallowed when they’re crying or feeding.
- Spitting up: failing to burp them often enough can cause your baby to spit up and become cranky. The majority of infants spit up, especially after gulping down too much air at mealtime. It may also be due to gas buildup, overfeeding, or eating too quickly.
- Bloating: bloating tends to occur when air gets trapped in their belly, acting like a wine cork in the intestines. It curbs the flow of gastric juices, and an immature digestive system is unable to cope with the associated pain and cramping.
- Flatulence: excessive flatulence is another indicator that your gassy baby’s GI tract is still struggling to fully process the food they’ve eaten.
- Restlessness: is your little one having difficulty sleeping? Restlessness usually points to gassiness and is a direct result of the aforementioned symptoms.
- Fussiness: crying and general fussiness are your child’s way of communicating their needs and wants with you. They may be tired, hungry, gassy, uncomfortable, or in pain.
Need a surefire way to deal with a gassy newborn? Whenever gas strikes, ease the pressure and discomfort with one of the following baby gas relief techniques:
- Burp your baby: help rid a gassy baby of the air they’ll inevitably swallow during feeding. Burp them both during and after every meal to prevent gas buildup in their tiny tummies.
- Feed at an angle: still wondering how to help relieve gas in newborns? Try holding your infant in a slightly inclined position and tipping the bottle so the air rises to the top. (Or, consider switching to a curved or angled bottle.) If you’re breastfeeding, however, select an appropriate breastfeeding position, and remember to keep their head and neck elevated above their stomach.
- Use the right bottle: another do-it-yourself approach to soothing a gassy newborn is buying a bottle with a soft, contoured nipple that fits snugly in their mouth. This will reduce the amount of air they take in at mealtime.
- “Bicycle” your baby’s legs: lay them on their back and gently move their legs, alternating sides, as if pedaling a bike. You can also try tucking your little one’s knees into their stomach.
- Massage their tummy: there are two popular variations on this particular baby gas relief method. The first is to slowly rub their tummy in a circular, clockwise motion. The second involves applying mild pressure to the abdomen and using your fingers to spell the letters “I,” “L,” and “U” (or “I love you”). Both are done while they’re lying on their back.
Are baby gas drops safe?
Yes, baby gas drops are considered safe for use by the general public. Their primary active ingredient is simethicone, which breaks up bothersome gas bubbles in the stomach.
A typical dose of baby gas drops is 20 milligrams, administered up to 4 times per day. These drops can be added to water, formula, or breast milk. As always, though, be sure to consult your doctor before giving them to a gassy newborn.
It’s also important to check with your pharmacist if your child is currently taking any other types of medication. Certain drugs, including those used to treat thyroid conditions, may have a negative interaction with baby gas drops.
When to call a doctor
More often than not, a gassy baby is not a major cause for concern. Though fussiness and irritability are to be expected, it will rarely lead to severe pain.
As long as you’re able to alleviate the symptoms of gassiness through burping, massaging, or new feeding positions, there’s no reason to worry. In some cases, gassiness might indicate a milk allergy or lactose intolerance.
However, if your infant’s crying and discomfort seem prolonged, make an appointment to see your doctor. They’ll likely perform a complete physical exam to rule out any serious abdominal issues. If your gassy baby is suffering from severe symptoms like vomiting or bloody stools, seek medical attention immediately.