Gas in baby’s digestive tract is typically the result of swallowing excess air and/or the byproduct of digestion. When a food is broken down in a baby’s digestive tract, gas is also released.
Many babies pass gas around 20 times a day or more without experiencing any more than temporary discomfort. Unless your baby is experiencing diarrhea along with the gas or has other worrisome symptoms, the gas is nothing to worry about.
Infant gas is often mistaken for colic, a condition that causes a baby to cry for long time periods. While colic can lead to gas because the baby is swallowing larger amounts of air when crying, treating gas will not likely relieve colic.
All parents want to help their babies when in pain or discomfort. Unfortunately, there are many folk remedies for gas you should probably skip as they lack evidence.
Skip it: Star anise tea
Star anise tea has been a traditional Chinese remedy for treating infant gas. However, this remedy came under fire in 2004 when studies found tea manufacturers were brewing Chinese star anise (which has traditionally been considered safe) with Japanese star anise (which is intended for decorative purposes only). Some babies experienced very severe side effects, including seizures and intense vomiting. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration issued a warning to not give this tea to infants due to its potentially severe side effects.
Skip it: Juice
The American Academy of Pediatrics says babies under age 12 months should not drink juice. However, some parents give their infants juice as a means to help them sleep better or as an alternate drink. Instead of calming your baby, juice could be contributing to infant gas. This is because juice contains sucrose and/or fructose, which are two types of sugar that baby’s stomach may have difficulty breaking down. This can contribute to additional gas.
Skip it: Antacids with aluminum
While it can be tempting to give your baby an antacid to help deal with an upset tummy, these anti-gas remedies can be harmful to baby in larger quantities and are best skipped. While a trace amount of aluminum is detected in both adult’s and baby’s bodies, giving baby an antacid that has aluminum could have harmful effects on a baby’s brain in larger quantities.
Keep in mind: Herbal remedies
Many herbal remedies, such as products labeled “gripe water,” are available on the market today to treat infant gas. However, some of these remedies may have the ingredient ethanol, otherwise known as alcohol. For this reason, it is important to read the ingredients of herbal gas relief remedies carefully and always exercise caution in any treatment you give to your baby, whether it’s labeled “all-natural” or not. As a general rule, always check with your little one’s pediatrician before giving any herbal remedies for gas.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, April 2019
- It’s OK to want to help alleviate some discomfort in your baby, but there are some things you should avoid.
- Don’t give your baby juice, star anise tea, or antacids with aluminum to help with gas pain.
- Infant gas is sometimes mistaken for colic, but treating gas may not actually treat colic.