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 much? Infants have plenty of chances to swallow air, like when they:
- Eat, whether food comes from a breast or bottle
- Suck a pacifier
When air gets trapped in your baby’s belly, you may notice that she:
- Gets fussy
- Is bloated
- Has a hard tummy
Sometimes, gassy babies might seem like they’re seriously uncomfortable or in pain. How can you know if there’s another problem?
"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."
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 pain of gas:
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 her during and after she nurses. If she doesn’t belch 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, professor of pediatrics at Columbia University.
Work it out. Gently massage your baby, pump her legs back and forth (like riding a bike) while she’s on her back, or give her tummy time (watch her while she lies on her stomach). A warm bath can also help her get rid of extra gas.