How to Get Rid of Baby Gas, Fast – According to Pediatricians
When your baby is unhappy, you likely do everything in your power to make them feel better. But sometimes, knowing the root cause of their discomfort is like a never-ending game of Clue. They may be hot, cold, hungry, or tired, but another common cause of fussiness is baby gas. And getting rid of baby gas is trickier than it seems.
Baby gas occurs for several reasons. “One common cause is their developing digestive system, which may struggle to break down certain components of breast milk or formula,” says Freda Singletary, MD, a pediatrician at Rainbow Pediatrics in Fayetteville, NC. Swallowing air while feeding or crying can also contribute to gas, she adds.
Once an infant starts new, solid foods, their digestive tract has to get used to those changes, which increases gas production, says Jenelle Ferry, MD, a neonatologist and director of feeding, nutrition, and infant development at Pediatrix Medical Group in Tampa, FL.
On top of that, your baby may have difficulty expelling gas (aka farting) on their own, Dr. Singletary says. That’s due to their weak abdominal muscles and the fact that babies tend to constrict their rectal muscle when bearing down, essentially sealing off the “exit” to release gas.
“As a whole, [baby gas is] normal, though it can certainly be distressing for parents when they see their infants squirming in discomfort,” Dr. Ferry says. So we asked the MDs for their best tips for gas relief for babies, including how to tell if your baby has gas, positions to relieve gas in babies, baby gas medicines, and when it’s time to talk to your pediatrician.
How to Know If Baby Gas Is the Problem
Your baby may be upset for a variety of reasons, but Dr. Ferry and Dr. Singletary say the following signs and symptoms may indicate they’re dealing with baby gas.
- Frequent spit-up
- Constantly bringing their legs up toward their belly
- Straight legs while trying to poop or pass gas
- Decreased appetite
- Swollen or bloated belly
- Frequent gurgling or bubbling noises
Gas Relief For Babies
If you suspect gas is the culprit, your next question is likely how you can get rid of the baby gas fast. There are several options, from positions that help relieve gas in babies to medicines. Here are some doctor-approved tips.
Positions to Help Relieve Gas in Babies
To help get rid of baby gas, Dr. Singletary suggests gentle tummy massages. You’ll want to get a clear how-to from your pediatrician, but one technique is to start by lying your baby on their back and bringing their knees toward their chest. That alone might do it, but you can also try holding each foot in one hand and softly moving their legs in a pedaling motion, she says.
Tummy time, meant to help your baby build up neck and back strength, can also help get rid of baby gas by placing gentle pressure on the baby’s stomach, Dr. Ferry says. For specific how-tos, check out our in-depth guide to tummy time here.
Home Remedies That Get Rid of Baby Gas Fast
Applying a warm compress or water bottle wrapped in a towel on your baby’s tummy can provide gas relief, Dr. Singletary says. Just test the compress or bottle on the inside of your wrist and make sure it’s slightly warmer than room temperature, not scalding hot – you can easily burn your baby’s sensitive skin.
Baby Gas Medicine
Over-the-counter gas drops for babies can sometimes provide relief, but it’s essential to consult your pediatrician before using any medication, Dr. Singletary says. “Gas drops are generally safe when used as directed, but your doctor can provide specific guidance based on your baby’s health.”
The same is true for any OTC remedy you’re interested in trying out: talk to your child’s doctor first. Gripe water, for instance, is commonly recommended for baby gas. It usually contains sodium bicarbonate and herbs such as fennel, ginger, lemon balm, or chamomile, Dr. Ferry says. While some parents say it helps with gassiness, “most of the evidence for this is anecdotal and not shown in scientific studies,” she says. And your doctor may have a valid reason for recommending that you steer clear.
Prevent Baby Gas From Building Up
The best way to relieve baby gas is to prevent it. Since gas is often caused by swallowing air during feedings, making some adjustments to your feeding technique is one of the most powerful ways to mitigate symptoms.
To start, try incorporating some breaks into your usual feeding time. Pause every five to 10 minutes when breastfeeding, or once your child has consumed two to three ounces of milk if you’re using a bottle, and burp them, suggests Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. “This helps to get the gas out of the stomach, before it has a chance to make it down to the intestines and cause discomfort,” Dr. Ferry says.
Additionally, if you’re breastfeeding, make sure the baby is getting a deep latch on the nipple, Dr. Ferry says. If you have issues or difficulty, a lactation consultant is a great resource.
Breastfeeding parents can also take a look at their own diet. Dr. Ferry says beans, cabbage, and broccoli are known to cause gassiness in babies. “Sometimes avoiding these foods can help,” she says. “I usually recommend avoiding one food at a time and waiting several days to see if there is a response.”
If you’re bottle feeding, the right latch is still important. Experiment with different bottles to find one that allows your infant to get a deep latch, Dr. Ferry says.
Infants can also be allergic to ingredients; if you suspect that may be a cause for fussiness or discomfort after feeding, talk to your pediatrician.
When to Talk to Your Pediatrician About Baby Gas
In general, it’s fine to bring concerns to your pediatrician early and often. As noted above, talk to them before trying gas remedies like tummy massage or gas drops, if you suspect your infant may have an allergy, or if you need feeding tips.
But you should definitely talk to the doctor “if your baby’s gas-related discomfort persists, worsens, or if you notice other concerning symptoms such as vomiting, blood in the stool, or poor weight gain,” Dr. Singletary says. From there, your pediatrician can evaluate your baby’s health and provide personalized advice.
Just remember that each baby is unique, and what works for one may not work for another, Dr. Singletary says. “It’s normal for babies to experience gas occasionally, and it usually improves as their digestive system matures, but if you have any concerns or questions, reach out to your pediatrician for guidance tailored to your baby’s specific needs.”