Is your baby gassy? Here's what causes infant gas and the best treatments for baby gas relief.
You’ve decided to brave the nearby coffee shop for the first time with your new baby in tow when your little one starts grunting and grimacing, and you realize it's baby gas. Welcome to new parenthood! A gassy baby is completely common and normal, given infants' tiny and immature digestive systems.
Here’s how to know if your baby has gas, how to relieve gas in infants, what foods make breastfed babies gassy and when it’s time to check in with your pediatrician.
Why is my baby so gassy?
If your baby is gassy, you’ll notice that he passes a lot of gas and seems to feel better afterward. Gas troubles often start right away or when babies are just a couple of weeks old.
Fortunately, most infants outgrow them by the time they’re 4 to 6 months old, though for some, baby gas can last longer.
Infants are usually gassy because they have immature digestive systems and swallow air during feedings. Some babies may have sensitivities that could be affected by a breastfeeding mom’s diet or a certain type of formula.
Gassy baby signs and symptoms
All babies, of course, pass a little gas. But look for these signs and symptoms of baby gas that's more than just the usual:
Gassy baby causes
Infant gas has several possible causes:
What are the best remedies for baby gas relief?
If your baby's tummy troubles seem to be a problem, here's what to do for a gassy baby:
Some research has found that the foods in a mom's diet might make breastfed babies gassy, but the evidence is far from conclusive. Before you completely revamp what you're eating, see if there are other subtle ways you can help your baby swallow less air at mealtimes, including working on your latch, burping baby twice at each feeding and trying different nipples or bottles if you pump.
If your breastfed baby is still gassy, and you notice that every time you eat a certain food he seems gassier or fussier than usual, there’s no harm in cutting that food from your diet to see if it helps. Work with your doctor to nail down foods that might make breastfed babies gassy, including:
What's the best formula for a gassy baby?
Some formulas promise to reduce gas in babies, such as protein hydrolysate-based formulas, formulas with lower lactose, or formulas containing whey or soy instead of cow’s milk. There isn’t a lot of research showing that any one formula is better than others for reducing gas or colic.
One review of the research that does exist found that none of these formulas significantly reduced crying, but most studies have been limited, with very few babies involved.
That said, some parents do find their babies may have a sensitivity and do better when they switch. Hydrolysate formulas, or those containing less milk protein, seem to be more easily digested by some infants. Other anti-gas formulas contain probiotics, but check with your doctor before making the switch.
One blend you can most likely skip: lactose-free formulas. Lactose is the main sugar in breast milk, so it’s really uncommon for babies to have a lactose intolerance. If you think your baby might be lactose intolerant, talk to your pediatrician.
How can I tell the difference between regular infant gas and colic?
Because gas can make babies fussy, it might seem like a gassy baby is colicky — but colic and gassiness are two distinct conditions. Colic in babies has many causes beyond an underdeveloped digestive system, including overstimulation and an immature nervous system.
Not sure if fussiness is caused by gas or colic? A baby is often colicky because he has a hard time self-soothing. Your baby is more likely suffering from colic than gas if he typically starts crying around the same time of day (often in the early evening) — especially if those crying bouts last for at least three hours, three times a week, for at least three weeks.
Colicky babies are often inconsolable and have episodes of frequent, intense crying that can turn into screaming for long stretches of time, even though they're otherwise healthy.
When to call the doctor for a gassy baby
You’ll want to visit your doctor about gas to rule out more serious medical conditions if:
If your baby is gassy but gaining weight and peeing and pooping normally for his age, everything is probably going exactly as expected, and you’ll likely just need to wait it out. Baby gas does pass — double entendre intended!