How to Help Your Newborn with Gas: Tips and Tricks from an Experienced Mom

As a mom of four girls, I’ve experienced my fair share of sleepless nights and fussy babies. Two of my little ones had severe colic, which is heavily tied to upset tummies. I understand how stressful it can be when your gassy newborn is in discomfort. Here are some tried-and-true tips to help new parents manage gas pains and ease their baby’s gas discomfort.

Understanding Gas in Newborns

Newborns often experience gas issues, which can be distressing for both the baby and new parents. Let’s delve deeper into the causes and symptoms of gas in newborns to better understand how to help your little one.

What Causes Gas?

Newborns often have immature digestive systems, which can lead to gas bubbles and gas pains. This is particularly common in the early months of life when a baby’s gut is still developing. Several factors contribute to gas in newborns:

Immature Digestive Systems: Newborns’ digestive tracts are still developing, making it harder for them to process food efficiently. This can result in the buildup of gas.

Swallowed Air: Babies can swallow air while feeding, whether they are breastfed or bottle-fed. This swallowed air can get trapped in their digestive systems, causing discomfort.

Poor Latch: For breastfed babies, a poor latch can lead to the baby swallowing too much air. Consulting a lactation consultant can help improve the latch and reduce the amount of air swallowed.

Bottle Feeding: Bottle-fed babies might swallow extra air if the bottle nipple is too large or if they drink too quickly. Using a slow-flow nipple and ensuring the bottle is always tilted to keep the nipple full of milk can help.

Food Sensitivities: Some babies might have sensitivities or intolerances to certain foods, whether through breast milk or infant formula, leading to gas.

Overfeeding: Feeding too much at once can overwhelm a baby’s digestive system, causing gas and discomfort.

Symptoms of Gas

Identifying the symptoms of gas in your newborn can help you provide the right relief. If your baby is frequently fussy without an apparent reason, it could be due to infant gas. Common symptoms include:

Fussiness and Crying: A gassy baby is often a fussy baby. If your newborn cries more than usual, especially after feedings, it might be due to gas pains.

Arching Back: Babies experiencing gas discomfort often arch their backs in an attempt to relieve the pressure in their stomachs.

Pulling Legs to Tummy: When a baby pulls their legs up to their tummy, it can be a sign that they are trying to ease gas pains. This position helps move the gas through their digestive tract.

Hard, Distended Tummy: A gassy baby might have a hard, swollen tummy. Gently pressing on the baby’s tummy can sometimes reveal tenderness or discomfort.

Frequent Burping: Babies who burp a lot might be swallowing too much air during feedings, leading to gas bubbles in their stomachs.

Passing Gas: While passing gas is a natural process, excessive gas might indicate that your baby is dealing with more gas than usual, leading to discomfort.

Difficulty Sleeping: Gas discomfort can interfere with your baby’s sleep. If your baby is restless or wakes up frequently, it could be due to gas pains.

Understanding the causes and symptoms of gas in newborns can help you take proactive steps to ease their discomfort. Recognizing these signs early allows you to implement soothing techniques and make necessary adjustments to feeding practices, ensuring your baby is more comfortable and content.

Feeding Tips to Reduce Gas

Feeding your newborn in a way that minimizes gas is crucial for their comfort. Here are some detailed tips to help reduce gas during feeding times, whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding.

Proper Latching Techniques

For breastfeeding moms, ensuring a proper latch is essential to prevent your baby from swallowing too much air, which can lead to gas:

Achieving a Good Latch

Make sure your baby’s mouth covers not just the nipple but a good portion of the areola as well. This helps create a tight seal, allowing for more efficient milk transfer and less air intake.

Signs of a Good Latch

Your baby should have their lips flanged out (like a fish), and you should hear and see a rhythmic suck-swallow pattern. If you hear clicking sounds or see your baby’s cheeks pulling in, they might not be latched properly.

Seeking Help

If you’re struggling with latching, it’s a good idea to consult a lactation consultant. They can provide personalized advice and techniques to ensure your baby is latching correctly, reducing the risk of swallowing air and subsequent gas. Many hospitals have breastfeeding support groups and lactation consultants available for help.

Bottle-feeding Tips

Bottle-fed babies can also swallow a lot of air during feedings. Here are some strategies to minimize this:

Choosing the Right Bottle

Use bottles designed to reduce gas, such as those with vent systems that allow air to escape before it reaches the baby’s mouth. Experimenting with different bottles can help you find the best one for your baby.

Slow-flow Nipples

Ensure you are using a slow-flow nipple, which controls the flow of milk, preventing your baby from drinking too quickly and swallowing too much air. The nipple size should be appropriate for your baby’s age and feeding needs.

Feeding Position

Hold the baby in a semi-upright position while bottle feeding. Tilt the bottle so the nipple is always filled with milk, which helps reduce the amount of air your baby swallows.

Paced Bottle Feeding

Allow your baby to take breaks during feeding to reduce the speed at which they drink and to help them recognize when they’re full, preventing overfeeding and excess gas.

Burping Techniques

Proper burping techniques are essential to help release any air bubbles your baby might have swallowed during feeding:

When to Burp: Burp your baby during natural pauses in feeding, such as when switching breasts or halfway through a bottle. This helps release trapped air before it causes discomfort.

Effective Burping Positions: 

  • Over the Shoulder: Hold your baby upright against your shoulder and gently pat their back. This position uses gentle pressure from your shoulder against their tummy to help release gas.
  • Sitting Upright: Sit your baby on your lap, supporting their chest and head with one hand while gently patting their back with the other. This upright position helps air bubbles move up and out.
  • Face Down on Lap: Lay your baby across your lap on their tummy, with their head slightly higher than their chest. Gently rub or pat their back in a clockwise motion to help release gas.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends burping your baby frequently during and after feedings. Even if they don’t burp every time, the effort can help prevent gas buildup.

By implementing these feeding techniques, you can help minimize the amount of air your baby swallows, reducing the likelihood of gas and making feeding times more comfortable for your little one.

Soothing Techniques

When your baby is experiencing gas discomfort, there are several soothing techniques that can help relieve their pain and make them more comfortable. Here are some effective methods:

Bicycle Legs

Gently moving your baby’s legs in a bicycling motion can help relieve gas. This simple exercise helps move gas through the digestive tract by applying gentle pressure to the baby’s tummy:

  • How to Do It: Lay your baby on their back on a soft, flat surface. Hold their legs by the ankles and gently move them in a circular, pedaling motion, similar to riding a bicycle.
  • Benefits: This motion helps stimulate bowel movement and the passage of gas bubbles, providing relief from gas pains.
  • When to Use It: Try this technique when your baby is fussy or showing signs of gas discomfort, such as pulling their legs up to their tummy or arching their back.

Tummy Time

Tummy time is not only crucial for your baby’s development but also helps with gas relief:

  • How It Helps: Placing your baby on their tummy applies gentle pressure to their abdomen, which can help expel trapped gas bubbles.
  • Duration: Start with short sessions of 1-2 minutes, gradually increasing the time as your baby gets more comfortable and stronger. Aim for a total of about 20-30 minutes per day.
  • Safety Tips: Always supervise your baby during tummy time to ensure they are safe and comfortable. Place them on a soft, firm surface like a blanket on the floor.

Warm Baths

A warm bath can work wonders in relaxing your baby’s belly muscles and providing relief from painful gas:

  • How to Prepare: Fill a baby bathtub with warm water (not hot). Ensure the water temperature is comfortable for your baby by testing it with your elbow or a thermometer.
  • Benefits: The warmth of the water helps relax your baby’s muscles, which can alleviate gas pains and discomfort. It’s also a calming activity that can soothe a fussy baby.
  • Bonding Opportunity: Use bath time as a chance to bond with your baby. Talk to them softly, sing songs, or gently splash the water to make it a pleasant experience.

Infant Massage

Infant massage is a gentle and effective way to help your baby with gas relief. By massaging your baby’s belly, you can help move gas through their digestive system:

  • Technique: Use a gentle, circular motion to massage your baby’s belly. Apply light pressure and move your fingers in a clockwise direction, following the natural path of the intestines.
  • How to Do It:
    • Clockwise Circles: Place your hand at your baby’s belly button and gently massage in a clockwise motion.
    • “I Love You” Stroke: Trace the letter “I” on the left side of your baby’s belly, then an inverted “L” across the top of the abdomen and down the left side, and finally an inverted “U” from the bottom right, up and around the belly button, and down the left side.
    • Knee-to-Tummy: Gently press your baby’s knees to their tummy and hold for a few seconds before releasing. This can help push out trapped gas.
  • Frequency: You can massage your baby’s belly a few times a day, especially after feedings or when they are showing signs of gas discomfort.
  • Additional Tips: Make sure your hands are warm before you start. You can use a baby-safe oil or lotion to reduce friction and make the massage more soothing.

Using these soothing techniques can significantly help alleviate your baby’s gas discomfort. Remember to always be gentle and attentive to your baby’s cues to ensure they are comfortable and relaxed during these activities.

Over-the-Counter Remedies

Gas Drops: Simethicone gas drops can provide quick relief for a gassy baby. Always follow the drug administration guidelines and consult your baby’s doctor before use. We personally loved using Mylicon drops which made a HUGE difference for my girls.

Gripe Water: Gripe water is another popular remedy for gassy babies. It’s a good idea to check with your healthcare provider to ensure it’s appropriate for your baby.

Dietary Considerations for Moms

Breastfeeding Moms: What you eat can affect your breast milk and your baby’s gas. Consider eliminating gas-causing foods like dairy products, broccoli, and beans to see if it helps reduce your baby’s gas problems.

Infant Formula: For babies on infant formula, try switching to a different formula. Ready-to-feed formula tends to cause less gas than powdered formula. If you suspect lactose intolerance or food sensitivities, consult your healthcare provider for the best formula options.

Comforting Holds and Positions

Colic Hold: The “football hold” or colic hold can soothe colicky babies. Hold your baby facedown along your forearm, supporting their head, and gently apply pressure to their tummy. My colicky babies loved this position so we used it pretty regularly!

Upright Positions: Keeping your baby upright during and after feedings helps reduce the amount of air they swallow. Use feeding positions that minimize air intake and keep the baby upright for at least 20 minutes after feeding.

When to Seek Medical Advice

Red Flags: If your baby’s gas discomfort is severe or persistent, it might be due to a medical condition such as lactose intolerance or a more serious digestive issue. Watch for symptoms like blood in the stool, vomiting, or a failure to gain weight.

Professional Help: If you notice any concerning symptoms, contact your baby’s doctor for professional medical advice. They can rule out any serious conditions and recommend appropriate medical treatment.

Big Hugs Mama!

Having a gassy baby can be challenging, but the good news is that it often gets better with time as your baby’s digestive system matures. Try these tips and tricks to help your little one find relief from infant gas. Remember, you’re not alone, and it’s okay to seek help from your healthcare provider if needed. Happy parenting!

Additional Resources

When dealing with a gassy baby, having access to reliable resources and support can make a significant difference. Here are some recommended articles, books, websites, and community support options to help you navigate this challenging time.

Helpful Articles, Books, and Websites

Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp

This resource offers practical advice and techniques for soothing colicky and gassy babies. Dr. Karp’s methods, including the “5 S’s” (Swaddle, Side/Stomach position, Shush, Swing, and Suck), are widely praised by parents.

Mayo Clinic – Gas and Gas Pains in Babies

A comprehensive overview of the causes, symptoms, and treatments for gas in newborns. This article provides medical insights and practical tips.

What to Expect – Baby Gas: Why It Happens and How to Help

This article covers why babies get gas, how to recognize it, and effective ways to relieve it. It’s a great resource for new parents looking for actionable advice.

La Leche League International – Breastfeeding and Gas

Focused on breastfeeding mothers, this article provides tips on how to manage and reduce gas in breastfed babies.

BabyCenter – Gas Pain in Babies

A detailed guide on identifying and treating gas pain in infants, including feeding tips and soothing techniques.

Community Support

Finding support from other parents who have experienced similar challenges can be incredibly helpful. Here are some online forums and local support groups where you can connect with others:

BabyCenter Community

 Online Forum: Join the BabyCenter Community to share experiences, ask questions, and get advice from other parents dealing with gassy babies.

The Bump Community

Online Forum: The Bump offers various forums where you can discuss infant gas issues and other parenting topics with a supportive community.

Facebook Groups

Online Groups: Search for Facebook groups focused on parenting, colic, and infant gas. These groups provide a platform for sharing tips and offering support. Examples include “Colic and Reflux Support for Gassy Babies” and “New Moms Support Group.”

Local Parenting Groups

In-Person Support: Check with local hospitals, community centers, or parenting resource centers for in-person support groups for parents. These groups often provide a safe space to share concerns and receive advice from other parents and professionals.

By utilizing these resources and connecting with supportive communities, you can find effective strategies and emotional support to help manage your baby’s gas discomfort. Remember, you’re not alone, and there are many tools and networks available to assist you on this journey.

Hopefully by following these practical tips, you can help your newborn find relief from gas pains and enjoy more peaceful moments together. 

Author

  • Kayla Peloquin

    A blogger, Social Media Specialist and digital influencer, Kayla is the founder and driving force behind MommyofaPrincess.com, a blog designed to provide party planning ideas, family travel tips, and fun DIY projects with her Millennial 'Girl Mom' audience. She has partnered with several brands, a few favorites include Walt Disney World, Google, Coca-Cola, Carters and LEGOLAND Florida. This venture perfectly fits her current lifestyle with two young daughters.

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