I’m just going to say it. Doing the whole “bicycle legs” exercise for a baby who has gas is NO fun. Does it really work? Because in case you didn’t know, doing that exercise on a baby who is already screaming…it doesn’t seem helpful!
No matter the age, gas pains are just that- a pain! It can be especially uncomfortable for babies who have such tiny tummies and immature GI systems. To help bring some relief to baby, I’ve asked Kate Morse, Pediatric RN to share what causes gas in babies, the symptoms you may see if your baby has gas and how to relieve the trapped air. Not only is she covering gas for the Little Z’s Sleep community, but within the Sleep Society she’s also giving us Care Cards for how to handle vomiting, diarrhea, teething, fevers and MORE! It’s an easy go-to that is housed all within the app for my programs. Want in? Learn more about the Sleep Society here!
Almost all babies get gas. Gas happens when air is trapped within the digestive tract and common causes include the following:
Babies may swallow air while bottle or breastfeeding in certain positions, crying, babbling and sucking on a pacifier.
It’s common for babies to experience constipation and/or reflux, both of which may cause gas.
Immature gastrointestinal tract
A baby’s body is learning how to digest food, so it’s common for them to experience more gas than adults.
Breastfed babies may experience sensitivities to food found in their mother’s breast milk. Bottle fed babies may experience gas due to the mixing of formula creating excessive air bubbles or from a nipple size that is too fast. Older babies that have started eating solids may experience gas when trying new foods and gas may be a sign of a food insensitivity.
Diarrhea and vomiting, along with gas, are common symptoms of a “stomach bug” caused by a virus.
When air is trapped in your baby’s tummy, you may notice the following:
Crying (especially if crying occurs when baby is unlikely to be hungry or tired)
Arching of the back
Lifting the legs
A hardened or bloated tummy
Passing gas or burping
Gently pat your baby’s back in the middle of and after each feeding so they can expel the trapped air.
Move their legs
Lay your baby flat on their back and move their legs in a bicycling motion. This can help your baby move the trapped air out.
Massage your baby’s belly
Gently press on your baby’s tummy in clockwise or counterclockwise motions.
With supervision, place your baby on their tummy and let them move around. This can help free trapped air, while also strengthening their neck and upper body.
For newborns who are still swaddled, the gentle pressure of a swaddle may relieve gas.
You should talk with your baby’s doctor before trying any over-the-counter treatments, such as simethicone drops. However, there’s no proof that these treatments are effective in relieving gas.
Ensure your baby’s head is higher than their stomach while eating so the milk sinks to the bottom of their stomach and the air goes to the top. This makes it easier to expel the excess air. Using a nursing pillow may be helpful. Burp your baby in the middle of and after each feeding.
Improve your baby’s latch
A poor latch may cause your baby to swallow too much air. If breastfeeding is painful, if baby unlatches frequently or is frustrated during feeds, speak with a lactation consultant.
Slow the feeding down
Some bottle-fed babies eat too quickly causing them to swallow a lot of air. You may need a slower flow nipple if your baby is experiencing excess gas.
Try a different bottle
There are some bottles with different shapes and parts, such as those that are vented or curved, that reduce the amount of air buildup. Regardless of the type of bottle used, be sure to tip the bottle so there are no air bubbles in the nipple.
Take a closer look at your baby’s diet
If your baby is breastfed, they may have a hard time digesting some of the foods in your diet that are passed through breast milk. Keep a food log, which may help identify foods that trigger gas in your baby.
If your baby is bottle fed, let the bottle of mixed formula sit for a few minutes before offering it to your baby. This will allow the air bubbles within the mixed formula to dissipate. Some babies may be sensitive to ingredients found in formula. There are formulas that claim to be helpful for gassy babies, but talk with your child’s doctor before switching formulas.
For older babies who have started solids, keep a food log to identify possible food sensitivities which may cause excessive gas.
While gas in babies is normal and treatable, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider if your baby has:
Excessive fussiness or crying
A fever greater than 100.4 °F or higher
Was this helpful?!
We have more health + wellness resources available to our Little Z’s Sleep Society members! Like what to do when your child has a fever, cough, vomiting, diarrhea and so much more! Added bonus – these resources are available in easy-to-read and printable care cards to have on hand when you’re in a pinch!
What are you waiting for? Become a member today!
*Disclaimer: The content provided by the Little Z team is not intended, nor recommended, to replace medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please contact your healthcare provider for medical conditions and questions.*
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