Infant Gas: How to Prevent and Treat It
Babies can be pretty gassy. It’s common for them to pass gas 13-21 times each day! Why so gassy? Infants have plenty of opportunities to swallow air, like when they:
- Feed from a breast or bottle
- Suck a pacifier
So how can you tell if it's gas or something else?
"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."
What are signs she’s gassy? When extra air gets trapped in her tummy, you may notice that she:
- Gets fussy
- Is bloated
- Has cramps
- Has a hard tummy
Know that as your baby’s digestive tract grows, the gas will become less of a problem for both of you.
How to Help Your Baby Feel Better
Try 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," Shu says. "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 nursing pillow for support.
Burp your baby. One of the easiest ways to ease gas pains is to burp your baby during and after she nurses. 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, chief of pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in New York.
Work it out. Gently massage your baby, pump her legs back and forth (like riding a bike) while she is on her back, or give her tummy time (watch her while she lies on her stomach). A warm bath can also help your little one get rid of extra gas.