Gas problems in infants and newborns are quite common. In fact, almost all babies have gas at some or the other point, with some suffering from these problems more than others. Along with constant fussiness and irritability, you can identify gas problems in babies by observing certain symptoms which include distended stomach, hiccups, flatulence, frequent burping and vomiting in babies. This can cause extreme discomfort in the baby and can also be extremely troubling for the parent as well.
While adults can pass gas quite easily, babies especially newborns are born with an immature digestive system. In the womb the fetus derives requisite nutrition from the mother’s blood. When they are born and a few weeks after that, the digestive system of infants is so weak that they can find it difficult to digest even mother’s milk or formula milk. Moreover, the intestines lack the good bacteria that aid in digestion.
As the gas builds up in the intestines and the stomach it causes bloating and pain along with hiccups and even vomiting in babies. Gas problems afflict newborns and babies which are around one to two months old. As the baby grows older, the digestive system becomes stronger and he or she can easily digest foods without having to deal with gas troubles.
Causes of Infant Gas Problems
Gas can be caused by a number of factors in babies. It is a natural reaction that the baby’s body produces as it takes in the proteins, nutrients and lactose in breast milk or formula food. Moreover, certain foods in the mother’s diet such as cauliflowers, cabbages, broccoli and certain legumes are known to cause gas in a breastfeeding newborn. Other foods that can cause acidity in babies include dairy foods, certain citrus fruits, peanuts, soy and tomatoes. A mother can check which foods tend to cause acidity in their babies and try to avoid it till the time the child’s digestive system is strong enough to tolerate the food.
In addition to this, gas in babies can also be caused by the intake of air during feeding. This is due to the suction created when the baby feeds from the bottle or directly from the breast. A large or small size nipple for bottle fed babies is the main reason for this problem. Babies that are breastfed need to be burped after every five to ten minutes or when the mother switches from one breast to the other during the feeding.
Pediatricians believe mothers with excess milk supply tend to feed their babies much more foremilk than hind milk which in turn can lead to gas and acidity. Foremilk refers to the milk secreted initially during breastfeeding. High in water and lactose content, this foremilk when secreted in excess quantities and greater force can result in stomach bloating and cramping in newborns. Moreover, the less intake of the rich and nutritious hind milk can cause babies to feed more often which can in turn lead to increased air intake and gas problems.
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In older babies introduction of solids especially certain fruits and cruciferous vegetables can result in gas problems. Newborns can suffer from stomach problems when they are exposed to certain stressful situations like excessive noise, bright lights and a lot more people around them than usual. The stressful environment leads to over stimulation and gas in babies. Crying is natural for babies and is their way of expressing and communication. Excessive crying can also lead to gas troubles as the newborn may gulp in air while crying leading to air bubbles being trapped in their stomach.
Infant Gas Relief
Infant gas problems tend to resolve on their own once the baby’s digestive system matures and he or she is able to digest the nutrients in the food. However, there are certain measures that you can undertake to ensure gas pain relief for your baby.
Burping the Baby
Probably the best and the most widely used method of providing relief from gas pain. Burping the baby during feeding ensures that the trapped gas is expelled and there is no blockage in the stomach or the intestines. For burping a baby, hold him or her in an upright position against your shoulder. Gently pat his or her back to release the air. If your baby does not burp instantly then do not be disheartened. It can take some time and a few minutes of constant patting for the baby to burp. However, once he or she does it, the pain caused by gas problems will immediately subside.
Massaging the Tummy
A common symptom of gas in newborns is stomach flatulence and bloating. Massage your baby’s stomach gently with your palms in a clockwise motion. You can use some massage oil for the same. Make sure that you do not exert too much pressure while massaging the baby. This tummy massage works wonders in relieving gas pain. Giving the child a warm bath can help in relieving the hardened stomach muscles and get rid of the pain
Try Some Exercises for Relieving Gas Pain
Along with a tummy massage you can also try some light exercises to release the trapped gas. Lay down the baby on his or her back on a soft surface and then try bicycling the baby’s legs or holding the baby’s lower legs and pumping it in a back and forth movement to release the gas.
Maintain Proper Feeding Technique
A proper feeding technique is essential for relieving gas in babies. When breastfeeding ensure that you hold the baby properly. This will minimize the air swallowed while feeding. It is also important not to overfeed the baby. Bottle fed babies are prone to suffering from gas problems more than breast fed babies. Ensure that the nipple size of the bottle is just right. Too small a nipple can lead to intake of excessive air while bigger sized nipples can lead to overfeeding in babies.
Gripe Water for Gas and Colic Pain
A few herbal remedies can be used to treat gas in babies. You can purchase gripe water from medical stores or make one at home by boiling asafetida or cumin seeds in water. Allow the water to cool before giving it to the baby in small amounts.
With these simple remedies you can soon ease the pain and alleviate the other symptoms of gas in babies. If the problem persists then it is best to consult a pediatrician as soon as possible.
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