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Infant Gas: Preventing and Treating It

6 Strategies for Relieving Gas in Infants

These tips can help minimize your baby’s gas and relieve it more easily:

  • Feed them in the right position. “When you’re nursing or bottle-feeding, try to keep the baby’s head higher than her stomach,” says Shu. “That way, the milk sinks to the bottom of the stomach and air goes to the top, and it’s easier to burp out.” Also tip the bottom of the bottle up slightly, so there is no air (or air bubbles) in the nipple.
  • Change bottle-feeding equipment . “If you’re bottle-feeding, switch to a slower-flow nipple ,” says Joel Lavine, MD, PhD. He is a professor of pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and chief of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in New York.
  • Burp baby better. There are many positions you can try for burping your baby. Over the shoulder, prone on your lap, and sitting up with your hands supporting the baby's back and head are a few. One of the best burping positions for infant gas is the “football hold.” Lay your infant on their stomach along your arm, chin in your hand. Then gently pat or rub their back. “If you put pressure on a baby’s abdomen, then more gas is going to come out, and it may make the baby more comfortable,” Lavine says.
  • Give it time. When babies can’t seem to burp right after a meal, it can help to lie them down for 5 or 10 minutes and try again. “This lets the air re-separate from the milk,” Shu says. “When you lift them back up, the air may be on top of the stomach contents and be easier to burp out.”
  • Do a baby bike ride. Lie your baby down on their back and gently pump their legs as if they're riding a bicycle. This can help to release gas.
  • Try tummy time. Regular tummy time, not just after meals, can help a baby pass gas more quickly. You can also try rubbing the baby’s tummy in a circle to help release gas.

Over-the-Counter Infant Gas Remedies

How effective are OTC remedies such as simethicone and commercial gripe water? Shu says they may work for some babies.

Simethicone may help lessen gas in a baby’s stomach, although studies are limited. 

Gripe water is another over-the-counter remedy you may have heard about. It's a mixture of herbs, mostly dill, and water. It's said to calm colic and gas, but there's no clear research showing this.

Gas and Eating

Can gas be caused by what your baby is eating? Possibly, says Lavine. Although it’s not recommended, some parents give infants fruit juice, which contains sorbitols (sugar alcohols) that the baby can’t absorb.

It’s possible for a baby to have trouble digesting some of the foods you eat that are transmitted in your breast milk.  Legumes (such as beans, peas, and lentils) and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage), milk products, and caffeine (in coffee, tea, soft drinks, or chocolate) are common culprits. But before you change your diet a lot or cut out any foods, check with your pediatrician so that neither you nor your baby miss out on important nutrients.

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