How To Relieve Gas In Babies
During their first weeks, babies are small lovable creatures who do nothing more than sleep, eat and poop. Crying, burping and farting, babies sure do make lots of noise!
It is natural for a baby to pass gas, they may even do it loudly. This is because babies’ gut is still in a formative age during their first months after birth. It is also the reason why they can easily get all sorts of belly issues.
Gas pain is quite common and is the likely culprit if a baby is constantly crying and in distress. While it is a usual occurrence, there might be some days when your little one can cry inconsolably for hours.
Gas pain is a cramp and uncomfortable bloated feeling that you might already experience yourself. And while adults may just feel uneasy when they are afflicted, with newborns and children, it can get really painful.
So how do you usually relieve gas in babies? As a parent, let me share with you some insights to identify signs of gas pain and tips on how to sooth your baby when it happens.
Signs Of Gas In Babies
Whenever too much air is trapped in your baby’s abdomen, you will notice the following signs:
- Bloated / hard tummy
- Crying constantly
- Turns red and squirms
- Pulls up his legs, arches his back and clenches his fists
Causes Of Gas In Babies
So what causes your baby’s gas? There are a lot of factors that make your baby retain too much gas. Most of the time, it is a combination of causes and factors such as:
1. The mother’s diet
You might be breastfeeding and ate gas-forming foods such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, bean, onions and broccoli. It might also be due to your intake of beverages such as coffee, dairy or soda.
If your baby is gassy, check what you ate from your previous meals. Limit or control intake of these foods if you find them as a contributor to your baby’s gas.
Some babies are sensitive to their mother’s food supplements, iron pills, vitamins and prescription medicine. If you are taking any type of medicine, ask your doctor’s advice if it is safe to continue breastfeeding.
2. Your baby’s diet
Fruit juice, teas, solid foods, vitamins and some medications may cause gas, bloating, loose bowels and abdominal pain.
It is normal for a baby to move a lot and be squishy during bowel movement so if he is uneasy, he might be having a difficulty passing his stool. Your baby’s stool must be soft, not too loose or too hard.
If his stool are not in the consistency of pureed apple but rather resembles that of an apple juice, then there must be something wrong on his diet.
Your baby is not drinking enough water - Dehydration might not be the culprit on your child’s gas but it can be the main reason for his constipation and abdominal discomfort.
Your baby’s tummy might be bloated because he is unable to pass stools, and some water (around 2-4 ounces per day in addition to breast milk or formula) may help.
Your baby’s formula milk – Some babies are born lactose intolerant. If after feeding, your baby seems colicky, then it may be due to this reason. Colicky babies clench their fist, move a lot and move their legs up furiously while crying.
If this condition can’t be relieved even after feeding and burping, see your doctor immediately.
Too much or too little milk and bottle-feeding – Your baby may gulp and take in too much air along with the formula if there is an outpour of milk. Babies swallow more air with bottle feeding as compared with breastfeeding.
Check your feeding bottle’s holes before every feeding. The nipple’s flow and hole size should be according to your baby’s age and swallowing capability.
Too big nipple size may cause your baby to choke, while too small a nipple size may cause them to take in more air than milk. Over-fed babies are more prone to fussiness and gassiness.
Another best advice is to keep your baby at 45 degrees angle during feeding. The bottle must likewise be tilted so the nipple is always filled with milk and not air.
3. Too much crying
Babies swallow air whenever they cry. After crying for some time, your baby might have accumulated greater than average gas at his tummy. In this case, crying is the cause of gas, not the sign of gas.
Your baby is more sensitive to a new environment and may get easily stressed. Too much lights, touch, noise and new experiences may overwhelm a baby.
Sensory overload may cause your baby to be overly sensitive and fussy. He may have difficulty sleeping or his sleep will not be as long as before. Best advice is to limit noise and reduce baby’s exposure to television, radio, phones, visitors and other background noise.
A stressed baby will likely result in a gassed baby. It might not be gas, your baby might just feel uncomfortable. Your baby might be crying for an extended period of time due to a different reason.
Check for the room’s temperature, if the bed’s comfortable and also if he is in need to have a diaper change. Babies sometimes cry continuously for no apparent reason at all, they are just getting used to a new environment.
4. A medical reason
In rare cases, there might be a medical condition that prevents your baby from passing gas. It is quite rare but may be due to a blocked intestine or an inflammatory bowel disease.
For persistent crying unrelieved by any conventional method, have your baby be seen by a doctor.
Soothing A Baby’s Gas
What must be done to relieve a baby’s gas? As a parent, let me share with you some tips that I find useful:
# Help baby to burp
Burping releases the excess pressure and air out of baby’s body. The popular method is to hold baby upright. Have a wash cloth ready at you shoulder and position him facing you, with his mouth touching your shoulder.
Gently massage baby’s back until you hear a burping sound. You may also burp him through a seated position. Sit him on your lap and gently rub his abdomen and back.
You need to help him burp at the middle and after feeding. If baby has not burp right after feeding, lay him down for about 5 minutes and try burping him again.
# Use the right feeding position and feeding bottle
Never allow baby to lie down flatly during feeding. Incline him through a pillow or a folded towel. Check the feeding bottle to ensure that air has not accumulated at the nipple area.
A few baby bottle brands have a built-in design to prevent air from mixing with the milk. Invest in a bottle or two that can do the trick, a little extra dollar is worth it.
# Massage baby’s abdomen in a clockwise position
Gently massage baby’s tummy to help lodged gas and pressure to exit his abdomen. A good massage can immediately release baby’s gas, through a fart or two.
Experiment with various gentle massage techniques, you will later see what is most effective for your little one. You may use a little baby oil to warm baby’s tummy, especially if the weather is chilly.
# Warm baby’s abdomen
A warm towel placed on baby’s lower tummy will ease cramps, similar to how we are relieved by a warm compress during our menstrual periods. You may also do it by rolling a warm water bottle atop baby’s belly.
A heat pack or warm rice sock will be just as effective. Try to immerse baby in a warm bath to ease his discomfort. Baby will welcome the warmth, it will also help him to sleep.
Tighter swaddling will also help to deliver more pressure to baby’s tummy while warming him in the process. Take care to do any of these suggestions gently and watch baby for any signs of discomfort.
# A little tummy time might do
Babies experience more colic episodes when they are not spending enough time on their bellies. This happens if baby is seated or lying on his back the whole day.
To ease the pain, some pressure brought about by lying or crawling (if he is ready) will help to push the extra air out. Stroke baby’s back while he is lying on his stomach to facilitate expel of gas. This will also help him to relax.
There is nothing wrong with allowing baby to lie on his tummy for hours at the crib. It might be the most comfortable position for baby so just let him be. Just be sure that there is no loose threads or large toys that can potentially suffocate or choke him.
Remember to do tummy time at least 20 minutes after he is done with his milk, not before or immediately after feeding.
# Make baby do basic exercises
Toes-Atop-Your-Nose: Let baby lie on his back. Take his feet and gently put them near his face. Do around five to ten repetitions while playing peek-a-boo with baby. Take note to not use force, your baby is flexible enough to do this without effort. This position will help the gas inside baby’s abdomen to go up and out.
Bicycle: Take baby’s feet and gently push his knees upward and downward, akin to bicycling movements. Sing a song or talk to baby while doing so. This movement will help to ease out the pressure at the tummy, releasing some farts.
Assisted sit ups: Support baby’s neck and back and guide him to lie down then sit up again. The V-position that his abdomen makes will exert gentle pressure to get that extra gas out.
There are certain points in baby’s body that when pressed will ease tummy cramps. This may or may not work with your little one but try to gently pull or tug at his earlobes.
Another way is to press the point joining baby’s thumb and forefinger. You can also gently press into the soles of his feet. There is no harm with experimenting, just make sure that the pressure is gentle, similar to a massage.
# Ask your doctor for a prescribed gas-relief medicine
Simethicone may be advised by your doctor to help with gastrointestinal discomfort and excess gas. It helps baby to fart and release pressure.
Simethicone might not be recommended for a newborn so ask your paediatrician prior to administering this medicine to your baby for the first time.
# Essential oils
There are some oils available at the drug store specifically indicated for abdomen massage. They relieve gas and pain brought about by diarrhea, colic and indigestion.
If you are using them on your baby for the first time, as your doctor for a go signal. Some oils might look harmless but they can be too potent for your baby’s skin.
Prevent Your Baby From Getting Gas Pain
- Ensure that your baby is inclined at 45 degrees during feeding time.
- Try a different nipple or a new bottle. There are new feeding bottle models in the market today that claims to reduce baby’s sucking of air while improving baby’s milk intake.
- Make your baby burp after every feeding. Do this consistently, until your child is old enough to be able to burp on his own.
- Talk to your doctor about your baby’s diet. There are some food stuffs that your baby may not tolerate and absorb well, causing belly pain and discomfort. Your baby might even be allergic to cow’s milk or to a component in your current milk formula. Possible allergens in a formula include trace amounts of peanuts, wheat, soy, eggs or tree nuts.
- For gassy babies, talk to your doctor about switching formulas. There are some in the market that claims to reduce colic and gas.
- Keep your baby’s tummy healthy. As your doctor for a recommended probiotic supplement. Good gut bacteria helps to digest food better and more efficiently, causing less gastro intestinal distress.
When Should You Hurry And See Your Doctor?
Gas in babies is a common occurrence especially during the first year of life. It happens less and less as the baby grows. Gas and a bloated belly can be relieved and is easily soothed thru some methods. In rare cases though, it may signal a rare or a serious abdominal problem.See your doctor right away if you see these signs on your baby:
- Does not poop for a longer stretch of time. If your baby has missed his or her bowel movement for a few days and looks uncomfortable, then go see your doctor.
- Does have a bloody stool, mucus in stool or blood on his or her vomit. It is not a usual scenario and indicates that your baby has something internal going on.
- Weak sucking or a cry that sounds different.
- Diarrhea, limp and pale skin and reduced hunger
- Crying harder when touched or not being relieved by cuddling and rocking.If you cannot calm down your baby despite doing everything or if he or she is more fussy than usual, then let his or her doctor check for any problems.
- Fever at 100.4 F or at 38 C. Sees your doctor if your child’s body temperature is above the normal limit. Your doctor will be the one to rule out any infections since fever may also be due to a lot of reasons.
Child-rearing takes lots of practice and patience. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of gas pain to be able to apply the correct soothing techniques.
The best way prevent gas pain is to put your baby to sleep in a quiet bedroom, with comfortable temperature and no distractions. The first months of baby’s life is the stage when he is most likely to be gassy or colicky.
Your baby needs your care and attention since the best that he can do to communicate is to cry. Give him all the rest and pampering that he need during this time. Be calm, this is just a phase.
So despite messy shirts and sleepless night, this is still a memorable time. Before your know it, your child has already grown right before your eyes.