Infant Gas: How to Prevent and Treat It
Infant gas is common. It’s normal for your baby to pass gas 13-21 times each day. She may become fussy when extra air gets trapped in her tummy. Gas is generally caused by:
- Swallowing air
- Feeding from breast or bottle
- Sucking a pacifier
You may notice your baby has these symptoms:
- A hard tummy
"If your baby is generally happy and only fusses for a few seconds while passing gas, that’s a sign that it’s normal," says pediatrician Jennifer Shu, MD.
"Even if they turn red and make noise, it doesn’t mean that it bothers them. If they’re happy in between episodes and not too distressed during them, there’s probably nothing wrong," Shu says.
How to Help Your Baby Feel Better
Infant gas can happen in both breastfed and bottle-fed babies. You can take these steps to prevent and ease the pains:
- Check feeding 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." Tip the bottle up slightly so there are no air bubbles in the nipple, and use a breastfeeding pillow for support.
- Burp your baby. One of the easiest ways to ease gas pains is to burp your baby during and after each feeding. If she doesn’t burp right away, lay her down on her back for a few minutes and then try again.
- Change equipment. "If you’re bottle-feeding, switch to a slower-flow nipple," says Joel Lavine, MD, PhD. He is chief of the division of pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in New York.
- Work it out. Infant massage, a baby "bike ride" (pumping legs back and forth while the baby is on her back), tummy time (letting her lie on her stomach while you supervise), and a warm bath are all ways to help your little one get rid of extra gas.
- Experiment with foods. Talk with your pediatrician about foods that may cause extra gas. Your doctor will make sure you don’t remove needed nutrients from the baby’s diet. "Some parents give infants fruit juice, which contains sorbitols (sugar alcohols) that the baby can’t absorb," says Lavine. Some babies may also have trouble digesting foods that come through breast milk, such as milk products and caffeine. If you’re formula-feeding, talk to your pediatrician about switching brands. Some brands claim to be helpful for gassy babies.