It’s a fact of life: all babies have gas. For some babies, passing gas poses no problem and they hardly seem to experience any discomfort. For others, gas can cause discomfort and result in symptoms including fussiness, a hard belly, squirming, and pulling up their legs.
Doctors often recommend first trying to figure out what’s causing the gas and then taking steps to relieve the symptoms. For example, some babies have a hard time digesting certain substances in formula or breast milk and can suffer from gas after eating. For others, sucking on pacifiers or crying can result in swallowing air. Taking proactive steps like frequent burping and infant massage can help reduce the discomfort of gas.
Some parents, however, are looking for a little help to relieve a gassy baby and turn to over-the-counter remedies. There are a few common products in this category.
1. Gas drops. Gas drops have been around for a long time and are commonly available. Infant gas drops are typically made from simethicone, which is also found in common adult anti-gas products. Simethicone is an antifoaming agent that makes it easier for babies and infants to form gas bubbles they can pass. It’s safe for newborns, although some allergies have been reported. Before beginning simethicone, it’s always a good idea to ask your pediatrician.
2. Probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are advertised as helping improve your baby’s digestion by improving the gut flora, or population of healthy bacteria that help break down and digest food. One specific strain of probiotic, Lactobacillus reuteri, has shown some success in treating colic in exclusively breastfed infants. However, a number of research studies have looked at probiotics and their relationship to gas and have yet to prove a benefit for gas relief. Unless your doctor recommends infant probiotics for a specific reason, it’s probably best to skip them.
3. Gripe water. This product is generally made from sodium bicarbonate mixed with soothing herbs including chamomile, ginger and others. Many parents turn to Gripe Water as a folk remedy to relieve everything from infant gas pain to colic to teething pain; however, as with many folk and herbal remedies, there isn’t scientific evidence showing that gripe water is effective. Additionally, some types of gripe water may include alcohol, which can pose a health risk to your baby. If you do plan to use gripe water, it’s best to ask your pediatrician first.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, August 2019
- Gas is different for all babies, depending on what is causing the gas in the first place.
- Probiotics don’t show any scientific evidence that they are effective.
- If you’re looking to start gas drops or gripe water, check with your pediatrician first.