Baby Gas: What Causes It and Tips to Relieve It

When your baby isn’t feeling their best, it can be challenging to discover the cause of their discomfort. Discovering the cause of their upset is difficult because babies only have one form of communication when they’re born: cry. Crying signals hunger, pain, sleepiness, over or under stimulation, fear, a messy diaper, and any general discomfort. 

As the weeks progress, you’ll get to know your baby and learn what some of their different cries mean, but what are some of the other signs and symptoms your baby is gassy besides crying? And more importantly, how can you offer your little one relief? 

This article aims to answer all your questions about having a gassy baby and tips to prevent and treat gas in infants. 

Signs and Symptoms of a Gassy Baby

Several indicators can point to your baby experiencing discomfort due to gas:

  • Your baby isn’t eating well. Not eating well could mean they’re experiencing bloating or fullness and generalized discomfort from gas. 
  • Your baby cries or is fussy for an hour or more straight each day, especially after eating.
  • Your baby has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • Your baby seems unhappy most of the time. Think about how you feel when you’re experiencing gas pains. You’re probably not in the best of moods either!
  • Your baby squirms a lot or frequently pulls their legs up to their chest. 
  • Your baby’s face turns red when they cry, or their face looks like they might be in pain.

If your baby is experiencing any combination of the above symptoms, they may be experiencing frequent bloating and gas pains. It’s a good idea to record any symptoms, when they occur, and how often they occur to present a complete picture to your pediatrician.

What Causes Baby Gas?

Just like gas in adults, babies can develop gas for various reasons relating to their diet and physical make-up. The most common causes include:

  • Food sensitivities to specific formulas or foods in mom’s diet if you are breastfeeding. Some babies, literally, cannot stomach some formula types or brands, so you might need to try a few before finding one that works. You may need to switch to a soy-based formula or one with prebiotics or probiotics which support a healthy gut. If breastfeeding your baby, certain foods in your diet may cause excess gas or bloating in your little one. Foods like broccoli, beans, citrus fruits, soy, onions, corn, dairy, and wheat are linked to colic in breastfed babies.
  • Swallowing air while eating or crying can also cause gassiness. Have you ever gotten hiccups after crying or eating, or drinking too fast? If so, it’s likely because you swallowed too much air in the process, creating an air pocket or gas. 
  • An underdeveloped digestive system is the third likely cause of gas in babies. If your baby’s digestive system isn’t fully developed, food passes too quickly through their system and doesn’t have time to break down fully. 

How Can I Relieve My Baby’s Gas?

The first step in relieving or possibly preventing your baby’s gas is to figure out what’s causing it. Keeping a journal of symptoms, when they occur and how long can help you pinpoint the exact cause of your baby’s tummy troubles.

If you discover specific foods you are consuming, or their baby formula is the likely culprit, try omitting gas-causing foods from your diet for several days or switching your baby’s formula for a week to see if it helps.

Other preventative measures include:

  • Feed your baby before they cry. They are more likely to ingest air if you wait until they’re hungry, crying, or fussing. Get to know your baby’s hunger cues so you can feed them before they cry for a meal.
  • Feed them in an upright position. Whether you are breast or bottle feeding, try holding your baby in a more upright position to control the flow of air.
  • Burp twice. If your baby is prone to gas, make sure they burp twice after a meal and avoid laying them flat for 30-minutes after eating.
  • Tummy time. Tummy time is excellent for a myriad of developmental reasons, but it can also work as a gas prevention and aid. Tummy time strengthens your baby’s core muscles, and a little gentle pressure on their tummy can relieve gas. However, avoid tummy time directly after eating as it may cause some babies to spit up. 
  • Probiotics. Your baby may benefit from probiotics to support their gut health. Certain baby products like yogurts and baby formulas come with probiotics, or you may be able to add a supplement to their milk or formula. However, speaking with your pediatrician before using probiotics with your baby is important.

If your baby is experiencing gas and you haven’t discovered the cause yet, you can use some exercises and tips to provide gas relief. All babies will experience gas at some point, so here are some things you can try to soothe your baby’s belly woes:

  • Baby massages. Giving your baby a little rub down with some baby lotion can sometimes help them relax enough to pass stubborn gas.
  • Gas drops. Some parents swear by infant gas drops to relieve their little one’s tummy troubles. In most cases, they are considered safe for all babies; however, speak with your baby’s doctor before trying this method. 
  • Baby bicycles. A little exercise can help relieve gas. Lay your baby on their back on a blanket on the floor and gently cycle their legs towards their tummy. 

In most cases, the causes of baby gas are typical and not a reason for concern; however, watching your baby experience discomfort is never easy or fun. If you’ve tried home remedies like burping twice, baby massages, and bicycles or have altered your baby’s diet and don’t notice any relief from gas symptoms, it is time to call your doctor for help. Most likely, there is nothing to worry about but a trip to the pediatrician may allow them to pinpoint the exact cause of your baby’s gas and zero in on the most effective way to offer them relief.

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