There are very few things more stressful for a parent than being unable to soothe your baby. Because of that, one of the toughest challenges of being a new parent is figuring out why your baby is crying. Sometimes we feed them, change them, or distract them, and they still continue to cry. As a pediatrician, I know that while there can be many reasons for tears- gas pains are a common culprit for a baby’s fussiness.
Why Does My Baby Have So Much Gas?
Most babies have gas; however, the amount of gas and the discomfort felt can vary from baby to baby. While there are many reasons a baby develops gas, often the main cause is air getting into the stomach. This air then gets trapped in the stomach, causing discomfort in the form of gas.
Extra air gets into baby’s stomach due to overfeeding, frequent formula changes, milk flowing too quickly or slowly from the nipple (bottle or breast), the baby’s position during feeds, or simply from crying.
In addition to pesky air bubbles, a newborn’s digestive tract is not fully developed, which can lead to indigestion and further gassiness.
How Do You Treat Gas in Newborns?
Although there is no surefire way to prevent your baby from getting gas, there are things you can do to relieve their symptoms and to help alleviate the discomfort.
- Tip #1: Swallowing air that becomes trapped in the digestive system is one of the main culprits of infant gas. If your baby is unable to release the gas pressure, they can absolutely feel major discomfort in their little bellies. While breast-fed babies are not immune to trapped air bubbles, bottle-fed babies can have a harder time preventing air from getting into the stomach during feedings. To reduce this air transfer when bottle feeding, parents can ensure the bottle has a venting system to channel air bubbles away from the milk. You also want to pay attention to the size of the opening in the nipple, as drinking milk too quickly, or even too slowly, can lead to gas bubbles.
When a parent asks me for recommendations on bottles to help reduce gas, I recommend Dr. Brown’s® Anti-Colic Options+™ Baby Bottles. These bottles have an internal vent system that routes air through a vent within the bottle, bypassing the milk. This system helps reduce air bubble oxidation, preventing gas while maintaining vitamins A and C in the milk.
Pro Mom Tip: Many parents alternate between breast- and bottle-feeding, so making the bottle-feeding experience as close to breastfeeding as possible is extremely important to ease the transition between feeding methods. The Dr. Brown’s Options+ bottles and nipples were designed to offer a variety of flow rates as well as an option between a narrow and/or wide based nipple. In addition, the internal vent system eliminates all pressure present in other bottle systems, which helps the infant feed with ease. Using a bottle system like Dr. Brown’s will ultimately help prevent gas and discomfort for your baby.
- Tip #2: When feeding a newborn, position is more important than you may think! Sit your baby up during feedings so their head is above their stomach. This more upright position will not only help with gas, but reflux as well.
- Tip #3: Some parents who breastfeed find that eating certain foods such as beans, cauliflower, or broccoli can lead their baby to become fussy. If you notice your baby reacts differently based on the foods you eat, a diet change for you may help prevent gassiness for them. Keep track of what you eat and how your baby reacts so you can discuss with your pediatrician if needed.
- Tip #4: Burping your baby is an extremely effective way to alleviate gas. I always recommend keeping your baby upright for at least 30 minutes after feeding to help combat gas and reflux. If your baby is particularly fussy after those 30 minutes, try a warm bath and light belly massage to help break up any gas bubbles. You can also try putting your baby on their back and moving their legs in a bicycle motion. Tummy time is also helpful in getting rid of gas.
- Tip #5: There has been a lot of promising research in the area of probiotics. Although more research needs to be done, some studies have suggested that daily use of probiotics may help to prevent colic. Many parents also find relief for their babies in over-the-counter remedies such as gas drops or gripe water.
How Do Anti-colic Bottles Help Promote Better Sleep?
Simply put, less gas in their bellies equals better sleep!
When your baby is free of discomfort, they will sleep better. If a baby goes to bed with gas in their tummy, they may become restless and have trouble staying asleep. Using Dr. Brown’s® Anti-Colic Options+™ Baby Bottles is an easy way to reduce gas bubbles from your baby’s belly before you put them to sleep.
Keep in mind that babies are creatures of habit. If they begin waking up in the middle of the night with gas discomfort, they may continue to wake up at that same time every night even when gas issues are gone. Eliminating any sort of stimulus that may cause them to awaken overnight, such as gas pains or a wet diaper, is critical to promoting better sleep for your baby (and you).
We all dream of having a peaceful, sleeping baby, but the reality is that babies are sometimes temperamental and fussy. As a parent, having the right tools and information are the keys to success!
If your baby appears to be suffering from gas pains or discomfort around feedings, remember to always discuss the possible causes and a treatment plan with your pediatrician.
About the author:
Dr. Katie Friedman is a board-certified pediatrician, writer, spokesperson, and mother. Dr. Friedman completed her residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital at the University of Miami. She currently practices pediatric emergency medicine in South Florida. She divides most of her working hours between the emergency room and the blog she created with her sisters, ForeverFreckled.com, where she serves as an educator and spokesperson.
Using her passion for preventive medicine and pediatric safety, Dr. Friedman has worked alongside several brands and companies, to guide parents through obstacles of childhood safety, illness prevention, and pediatric medicine. In addition to her hospital work and writing obligations, she also serves as a medical correspondent for Lifetime’s Access Health and The Balancing Act. In her free time, Dr. Friedman loves spending time with her family, traveling, and early morning runs.