A gassy baby is one of the most disconcerting things a new parent can deal with. Even if it’s your second or third time around, no parent wants to know that their baby is in pain or discomfort.
Did you know it’s quite normal for babies to pass gas up to 20 times a day? It may cause us to panic when we see our little one grimacing, but it’s completely normal.
If it happens even more frequently, though, you may be asking yourself… Why? Why is my baby gassy? And what can I do to help?
The good news is that while you’ll never be able to avoid gassiness entirely, there are some things you can do to soothe your gassy baby.
What Are Some Signs of a Gassy Baby?
It can be hard to tell when your baby is gassy because it’s not quite the same as when we adults are gassy. For adults, it comes with stomach grabbing, moaning, and if an audible one does escape, it’s usually accompanied by blushing, nervous laughter, and a profuse apology.
Babies just… Do baby things when they’re gassy. They cry, they flail their arms, and it can be super difficult to tell if they’re hungry, sleepy, or gassy.
But if you notice some of these symptoms, especially soon after feeding time, they could be signs that your baby is struggling with a gas problem:
- Crying for no apparent reason, especially after being fed.
- Refusing to eat, or a decreased appetite.
- Your baby is redder in the face than usual.
- Unusual squirming, usually in conjunction with other symptoms.
- Spitting up, flatulence, or bloating.
- Not sleeping well.
Remember, all of these things can be signs of other things too. It will require a bit of mental work to figure out if your baby is genuinely gassy or if something else is causing these symptoms.
Why Is My Baby Gassy?
Once you’ve established that your baby is gassy, you may be wondering what’s behind the gassiness. There are a number of things that contribute to your little one’s tummy being sensitive. It’s perfectly normal!
Their Digestive System Is Developing
Babies may have adorable tiny bodies but they’re still developing. Their digestive system could just be figuring things out!
Sometimes, food doesn’t entirely get broken down properly as it passes through your baby’s digestive system. This can cause gas to be trapped in their intestines, which makes them uncomfortable and fussy.
It gets better as they age, and their digestive systems develop more completely.
They Swallowed Some Air
We’ve all experienced this, even as adults. Babies can often accidentally swallow air while they’re trying to latch onto mom’s breast, or even if they’re sucking on a bottle that’s at a bit of an unusual angle.
Remember, their mouths are also developing. They’re still getting used to their little muscles—yes, even their lips and tongue.
Swallowing air can, quite literally, cause air bubbles to move through your baby’s system and cause mini blockages.
They’re Reacting to Mom’s Diet
If you’re breastfeeding your baby, what you’re eating could be affecting your little one’s digestion.
It’s not difficult to fix this, though. Make sure you’re eating wholesome, healthy foods and avoiding fast foods or processed foods.
If you’re worried that this is affecting your baby to a large extent, you can ask your pediatrician to do an allergy test. This will give you a good indication of what to avoid in your own diet.
Their Diet Isn’t Optimal
If you aren’t breastfeeding, it could be that the formula you’re feeding them isn’t quite working for them. Keep in mind that gassiness is normal, and you shouldn’t immediately assume that there’s something wrong with your little one if they’re gassy for a while.
But if the problem persists past the point of being normal, it may be worth reevaluating your little one’s diet.
How to Help a Gassy Baby
As parents, we would do anything possible to help take away our little ones’ pain and discomfort. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to help your gassy baby feel better when they’re struggling with painful symptoms.
A gentle, soothing tummy massage can help work out all that gas. Don’t push hard on your baby’s stomach—you don’t want to hurt them. But it could just stimulate the intestine to move around gas that has been stuck and causing anguish.
Have you ever done bicycle kicks to work your abs? That’s exactly why bicycling your baby helps to get rid of gas—it stimulates the abdominal muscles, which in turn stimulates the digestive system to do its thing.
Don’t get too vigorous, though! Gentle but firm bicycling can make quite a difference.
Burp After Feeding
Try to burp your baby after every feed, in case he or she accidentally swallowed a bit of air while feeding. This way, they get it up and out as soon as possible, rather than waiting for it to make its way through their system and get stuck somewhere else.
Hold them against your shoulder and gently rub and pat their back until they burp. If it doesn’t happen, lay your little one down for a few minutes while you clean up, and then try again.
Feed at an Angle
This may sound strange, but changing the angle at which you feed your little one could reduce the amount of gassiness you deal with on a daily basis. The angle could be responsible for your little one swallowing too much air, contributing to their gastric distress.
Try to keep your baby’s head higher than their stomach when they feed. Despite the fact that imagining your baby’s head being lower than their stomach while feeding might not look right at all, it may surprise you often this happens!
If possible, try and keep them in this head-higher-than-stomach position for at least 30 minutes after they’ve eaten. It’s tempting to put them down immediately, but this can significantly reduce gassiness.
Extra Tips and Tricks
If you’re fighting the gas, it can be overwhelming. Here are some tips and tricks in addition to what we’ve already been through to help you beat the gassiness:
- If you’re breastfeeding, keep a food journal to spot problem foods in your own diet.
- Try gas drops, if approved by a doctor.
- Add probiotics to your little one’s diet.
- Wait for it to pass!
And it will pass. Gassiness is a common parental woe, but it shouldn’t be a long-term problem.
While there’s usually nothing to be worried about, it’s worth keeping a close eye on your baby to make sure there’s no underlying condition.
When Should I Worry About My Gassy Baby?
While most gassy baby experiences are truly nothing to be freaked out about, there are some cases in which you should be a little more worried:
- If he or she hasn’t pooped for a while.
- If there’s blood in their stool, or if it appears tarry black.
- Excessive fussiness to the point that you can’t calm them down.
- A high fever.
If any of these symptoms appear in addition to excessive gassiness, a visit to the pediatrician or the ER is necessary.
Don’t worry, parents! Just be cautious and vigilant, and your baby will be just fine.
Parents, if you’ve been wondering, “Why is my baby gassy?”… You should have a better idea of some potential underlying causes by now.
The great news is that it’s usually absolutely nothing to be concerned about. It’s a perfectly natural, normal occurrence that every baby goes through, and every parent has to deal with it.
As long as you take some gentle measures to keep your little one comfortable, your gassy baby should begin to improve in no time!