A gassy breastfed baby often has more than one problem that causes the gas…all babies do have gas, but some unfortunately struggle a little more with this problem than others.
Gas in breastfed babies is usually not caused through anything mom is eating, but rather just normal gastric development and swallowing of air while feeding. Mom should try to first rectify these other things mentioned below before changing her diet.
Signs that baby has bad gas
- Pulling of legs upwards towards the body
- Newborn gas pain can cause excessive crying after feeds
- Baby forms a fist with his hands most of the time.
- Babies with gas usually spit up a lot.
- Extra gas in babies cause a lot of burping.
- Flatulence (passing gas)
- Baby’s abdomen seems bloated and tight.
- Baby has diarrhea or constipation
- Baby struggles to stay asleep
Baby gas pain ~ Causes
What causes gas in babies
- Infant gas is a result of digesting proteins, lactose and other nutrients found in breastmilk and/or formula.
- The food that a breastfeeding mom eats can sometimes affect the gassiness of her infant. Not all foods effect all babies in the same way, but some culprit foods that give babies gas are citrus fruits, tomatoes, dairy products, spicy foods, fish, soy or peanut products. Read more on how to deal with food intolerance in the breastfed baby.
- A newborn can take in lots of air through the mouth while feeding (breastfeeding or bottle feeding) This is why it is so important to burp baby every 5 – 10 minutes.
- Babies that use pacifiers often take in extra air while sucking on the pacifier.
- Crying ~ A crying baby will gulp loads of air…this extra air can cause gassiness and cramping.
- Over-stimulation ~ The more activity (noise, movement etc) the more fussy and gassy baby is likely to be…especially at night.
- ‘ hyper lactation syndrome ’ ~ This is when mom has an oversupply of breast milk. Baby will then drink too much of the watery foremilk and not enough of the substantial hind milk. The foremilk is higher in lactose and this causes baby’s tummy
to cramp…baby will also eat more often because he is not feeling satisfied after eating and this makes the gassiness even worse. Read more on how to correct a foremilk hind milk imbalance.
- Baby’s gut is still developing in the first four months and still lacks the flora that is only developed over time. Read more on how breast milk protects baby's gut.
- Baby gas problems could be caused through a forceful milk let down ~ If baby is gulping and choking while breastfeeding because of an overactive let down (the flow of the milk is too fast) he will be swallowing a lot of air. Read more on how to deal with an overactive milk let down reflex.
- Any extra foods that have been given directly to baby may cause extra gassiness. Babies who are starting solids often have extra gas until their tummies become accustomed to digesting the food. Premature weaning can also cause gassiness. Read more on introducing solids
- Formula feeding has been found to cause more gas, spitting up, colic symptoms and constipation.
- A poor latch can cause gassiness. In bottle fed babies the gas is caused with the nipple being too big or too small.
- The use of any medication taken by mom or baby can also cause extra gassiness.
- A gastro-intestinal infection (tummy bug also called gastro) caused by a virus or bacteria can cause gassiness and is very common in babies. Check with your doctor if you think baby might have an infection.
Breastfed baby gas pain ~ How to relieve baby gas
Treatment prevention and other suggestions
- Give it time to pass. All babies have immature digestive systems in the beginning and no matter what you do, baby will still have some gassiness.
- Burp baby as often as possible. Try burping baby every five minutes if possible. Also try different burping positions like the over the shoulder pat, over the knee pat or knee bounce or letting baby sit upright while you pat his back.
- Carry baby around in an upright position, this will help bring up any extra air instead of trapping it. Carrying baby in the football hold will also help relieve the pain and gas because of the gentle pressure on baby’s tummy.
- Breastfeed baby in a reclining position, football hold position or lying down position…this will help the extra milk flow away from baby’s mouth preventing extra air intake.
- Give baby a tummy massage to help release the trapped air. This can be done a half hour after feeds and during the time when baby is showing signs of bloating.
- If you feel that the gas problem is caused through an oversupply of milk you can try breastfeeding alternative breasts with each feeding...therefore letting baby empty only one breast at a feeding. If your other breast gets too full you can pump a little for relief. This will help decrease your supply a little and also get baby drinking the fatty hindmilk too…this will prevent some infant gassiness.
- If a forceful letdown is a problem you can make sure baby is sitting in an upright position while breastfeeding…this will help the extra milk flow down instead of causing extra air intake.
- Anise water baby gas remedy ~ This gives natural & effective gas relief for infants. Boil ½ tsp of anise seed in 500ml of water for five minutes. Let cool and then give baby 2 – 3 drops if baby is under six months old, half a
dropper for up to a year old. The mixture can be kept in the fridge for three days. You can give it to baby every three hours for fast baby gas relief.
- Baby wearing can help keep the gas from staying in baby’s system and help baby pass gas with the movement.
- You can get special tummy packets that can be warmed up and placed on baby’s tummy. This in combo with swaddling can really help by providing warmth and pressure.
- When introducing solids: Baby should never be younger than 4 months (preferably 6 months), offer cereals that are specially designed for babies and introduce high fiber foods slowly into baby’s diet to give his digestive tract time to adjust.
- A tiny amount of sugar water can be given to a baby with gas to calm him and this has been found to be more effective than most baby gas relief drops on the market.
- A warm bath can help baby relax and will help the gasses escape.
When to call the doctor
- If you suspect baby has gastro
- If baby has long periods of uncontrolled crying.
Baby trapped wind causing colic pain
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