Babies have gas, although first time parents may find it rather fussy. Babies can burp, bloat, cry, have flatulence and can experience cramps as well. Usually, gas does not signify a concerning problem. However, it is good to know the frequent causes behind gas in babies and some helpful tricks to relieve them.
Common Causes of Gas in Babies
Swallowed air and the usual breakdown of undigested foods can be causes for gas in babies. Babies cry more than older children and can swallow more air leading to more gas. Their small structures can make passing gas difficult, sometimes painful.
What babies eat can be one of the reasons behind their gassy attribute. Fruit juice containing sorbitols, which is not recommended for infants, and does not get absorbed by babies’ digestive systems. Some babies, having lactose intolerance, can find it difficult to absorb lactose in milk.
There is a possibility that your baby has trouble digesting some foods you consume (while breastfeeding). Foods like legumes, cruciferous vegetables (e.g. cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower) and caffeine can be difficult for your baby’s digestive system.
Milk products can also cause gas in small babies. This does not mean that you should essentially change your diet to suit the baby’s digestive system. Some of the essential nutrients may be compromised with if you adopt an unplanned diet when you are breastfeeding.
Breastfed babies tend to experience lesser gas than bottle fed ones mainly because they can regulate the flow of milk at the breast. Fast feeding babies can experience more gas than their slower counterparts or if the milk itself has a rapid flow. Regular swallowing of air also leads to formation of gas in the digestive tract.
Methods to Deal with Gas and Minimize the Discomfort
Adopt the Right Position for Burping
Nursed or bottle-fed babies need to keep their heads higher than their stomachs. This facilitates the milk to go down and air to come up and out though burping. Also take care that while bottle-feeding, the bottle has no air bubbles in the nipple.
Different positions can be tried for burping babies. Sitting up with hands supporting back and head, over the shoulder and prone on the lap are effective ones to try. An interesting posture is the ‘football hold’, which can relieve the baby of considerable gas when done correctly.
Here, the baby can lie on his/her stomach along your arm with chin in your hand. Thereafter, rub his/her back or gently pat.Sometimes, just letting the baby lie down for few minutes after meal can work to remove the air from the milk. You can also attempt rubbing your baby’s abdomen in circular motion to aid gas release.
Feed Appropriately and Choose the Right Feeding Technique
While breastfeeding babies, avoid lying down and feeding. Sit upright and then feed.You can also nurse on only one side at each feeding. Nursing twice on one side before going to the other side may also help. However, any deviation from the usual feeding habit should be done after consultation with an expert to make sure the problem can be handled with changed nursing technique(s).
Else, your baby may inadvertently get less milk supply.When the baby is bottle-feeding, choose a slower-flow nipple and a bag which can collapse as the baby swallows. Babies on formula milk may need to switch to a hypoallergenic version if they have lactose intolerance.
Some over-the-counter remedies may help relieve gas to certain extent.Simethicone and commercial gripe water may provide relief from gas and may be implemented with babies. Simethicone decreases gas and prevents gas pocket formation.
Grip water, a herbal solution, can also prove helpful for some babies in calming colic and gas.
Diet Change For Monitoring the Trigger
If you find your baby sensitive to certain foods, restricting (or eliminating) them may seem an obvious solution. However, many foods which may result into gas formation in you may not affect your baby’s digestion.
You can eliminate a potential trigger for sometime from the diet to see the effect on your baby’s stomach. Milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, fish, egg, peanuts, etc. intake by the mother can cause gas in babies. If you find an improvement by restricting/eliminating a suspected food from your diet, you can consider removing it but only after having expert advice.
Many food items have important nutritional content and should be administered to young ones. A diet restriction should be adopted only after consulting a health care expert to avoid compromising with the nutritional intake of your baby.