Sooner or later, most parents will ask this question: “How can I treat my infant’s gas?”
This extremely common condition affects almost all newborns and infants at some point. Newborns and young infants eat every few hours, and their stomachs and digestive systems are still maturing, so it’s only natural that babies produce a lot of gas. When you add in crying, sucking, and possibly using a pacifier, it’s no wonder that newborns and young infants can pass gas up to 20 times a day.
If your baby suffers from gas-related symptoms and discomfort, here are a few doctor-approved tricks you can use to provide relief:
1. Check your feeding routine.
Feeding issues are the most common cause of infant gas, ranging from how you hold your baby during feeding to making sure your newborn is getting a good latch on the nipple. Try holding him or her upright, which will encourage the gas to rise to the top of the stomach for more successful burping. If you’re bottle-feeding, switch nipples to a different flow-rate nipple, and see if that reduces the amount of air your baby swallows. Finally, increase the number of times you’re burping your baby during feeding. Try burping every 5 minutes or so, or even more frequently at first. Prevention of gas in the first place is the best option.
2. Try infant massage or bicycling your baby’s legs.
A gentle belly massage, using long, gentle strokes down the abdomen, can help move painful gas bubbles through your baby’s system. You can also try laying your baby on his or her back and gently moving his or her legs, as if riding a bicycle, to help move gas through the system.
3. Be aware of foods you’re eating.
Some breastfed babies are sensitive to foods Mom eats. Keep a log of foods you’re eating, and note if your baby typically develops gas pains after a particular food. Then try eliminating that food and seeing if it makes a difference. Gas-producing foods include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and some other vegetables.
4. Explore over-the-counter remedies.
Many pediatricians will recommend gas drops with a simethicone base. These drops are designed to break up gas bubbles in the digestive tract, making them less uncomfortable and easier to pass. Simethicone has been in wide use for several decades and is safe for newborns. As with all medications, you should check with your pediatrician before beginning simethicone drops, and always follow the label instructions.
For most babies, following the above steps will reduce the number of episodes and discomfort associated with infant gas. However, if your baby doesn’t respond, or if the gas is accompanied by other symptoms, such as a fever or vomiting, you should consult with your doctor.
Fortunately, infant gas tends to be relatively short-lived. As the months go by, your baby’s digestive tract will mature and grow, and the number of feedings will decline. Usually, by a few months of age, the worst of the infant gas episodes should be over.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, August 2019
- Feeding issues are the most common cause of infant gas, including how you hold your baby while feeding.
- Sometimes the food mom eats directly affects a baby’s gas-related symptoms.
- Fortunately, infant gas tends to be relatively short-lived.