As soon as your newborn starts feeding, he or she will start making gas. Experts estimate that a normal baby could pass gas up to 20 times a day.
Gas is formed as a natural byproduct of digestion and may also result from inhaling air while feeding, sucking on a pacifier, or crying. In most cases, babies pass gas with no problem. In very rare cases, infant gas can signal an underlying problem such as lactose intolerance, although this typically occurs after a diarrheal illness and is most commonly seen in older children. Also, some parents confuse bouts of infant gas with colic. In general, though, infant and newborn gas is a harmless and common issue that can nevertheless cause discomfort and tears.
How to identify baby gas
Infant gas is most commonly experienced after eating, though it can strike at any time, especially if your baby has been crying or using a pacifier recently. Signs that your baby is experiencing troublesome gas include:
- Pulling his or her legs up
- A tight tummy
If your baby has any of these signs and you suspect they’re suffering from gas, there are a variety of steps you can take to relieve the gas, such as changing your feeding position, massaging your infant, altering the food or drink your baby is getting (e.g., cut back on cow’s milk and fruit juice), using over-the-counter medications, or positioning your baby on his or her tummy to help pass the gas. If you are considering changing your baby’s diet, be sure to talk to your pediatrician first to make sure he or she continues to get adequate amounts of the nutrients needed for growth.
If the gas is accompanied by a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees in a baby less than 12 weeks of age, extended and inconsolable crying that lasts longer than two hours, refusal to eat, or signs of pain, you should seek out immediate medical attention.
The good news is that newborns and young infants outgrow their gassy months relatively quickly. As their digestive tracts grow and their systems get better at breaking down milk or formula, the number of bouts of infant gas should decline.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, August 2019
- Infant gas usually happens right after feeding, but can occur almost any time.
- A normal baby can pass gas up to 20 times a day.
- Newborns and infants outgrow their major gassiness as their digestive tracts grow.