Ah! The screaming pain, arching back, scrunched up legs, excessive burping and passing gas––there’s nothing worse than seeing your baby in pain due to trapped gas.
Baby gas pains are common in infants, and I know that if you’ve got a fussy baby, you just want to help them feel better (and try to catch some sleep!).
Today we’re going to talk about a number of home remedies for gas including: gas drops, how to burp effectively, choosing the right bottle, bicycling baby’s legs, baby massage, and more.
Figuring out what’s causing your baby’s gas is half the battle, but no matter the root cause, these natural ways to easy baby gas pains will help.
If you’re here, I’m guessing you’ve got a baby that’s screaming in pain from gas––so let’s figure out how to get rid of baby gas, fast!
What causes baby gas?
Baby gas is a common and often painful symptom among young babies. Usually, you’ll notice signs of gassiness when your baby is between 3 and 6 weeks old, although some babies have symptoms right away! Luckily, babies usually outgrow their gassiness by their half birthday.
There’s a few reasons why your baby may be experiencing trapped gas:
- An immature digestive system that makes their stomach more sensitive
- An inability to effective remove trapped gas on their own (like by burping or passing gas)
- Swallowing excess air while eating (this can be true in breastfed or bottle-fed babies, read tips to combat this below)
- Breastfeeding mothers having an overactive letdown
- Constipation leading to built-up gas
- An intolerance or allergy to something in their formula or mother’s diet. In some cases, excess gas (in addition to other symptoms) might indicate an intolerance or allergy to milk, soy, eggs, or another trigger
In some cases, the cause of your baby’s gas is totally normal. Newborns and infants are naturally much gassier than children and adults simply because their digestive systems are so new! Some crying and frustration associated with passing gas is not a cause for concern.
If your baby’s gas (or inability to pass gas) is accompanied by more significant symptoms of colic, like crying for 3+ hours at a time, extreme discomfort, or abnormal stools, definitely bring it up to your pediatrician. There could be a food allergy or intolerance at play.
And, as always, mention it to your pediatrician if anything about your baby’s gas is concerning you!
Baby gas symptoms?
So how do you know if your baby is experiencing gas or is fussing for some other reason? Let’s take a look at a list of the signs that your baby’s fussiness is due to gas:
- Arching back
- Excessive crying
- Colic symptoms
- Redness in their face when crying
- Lifting legs in an attempt to pass gas
- Swollen or hard stomach
- Lots of burping
- Lots of passing gas
- Lots of spit-up
Formula fed vs breastfed babies and gas
In general, gassiness is usually more significant in bottle-fed babies (whether that’s formula or breastmilk). However, breastfed babies can also have issues with gas! In general, anything that causes your baby to swallow excess air will result in trapped air, which leads to a gassy baby.
Formula fed babies with gas might be:
- Reacting to the specific formula due to an allergy or intolerance to cow’s milk protein, lactose, or soy. Your pediatrician can help you determine if this could be the problem
- Having difficulty digesting the formula due to an immature digestive system. In this case, you can try an extensively hydrolyzed formula which breaks the proteins down and makes them easier to digest
- Swallowing too much air while bottle feeding due to an incorrect latch on the bottle, not tipping the bottle fully upright before beginning a feeding, or a nipple with a flow that’s too fast
- Constipation due to an immature digestive system
Breastfed babies with gas might be:
- Swallowing too much air due to an incorrect latch
- Swallowing too much air due to a fast letdown
- Reacting to something in mom’s diet
How to relieve baby gas? 9 Natural ways to ease baby gas pains
Now that you’ve learned the why, let’s look at some ways to help your baby find some relief. Not every recommendation on this list will work for every baby.
I recommend trying out a few things and seeing what works. Remember that in a lot of ways, gassiness in babies is normal!
1. Gas drop, gripe water and herbal teas
Gas drops are an over the counter product that can be used on babies with excessive gas or colic. Gas drops contain simethicone which works to break up gas bubbles in your baby’s stomach. Usually, gas drops are mixed in with breastmilk, formula, or a bit of water and given to baby.
Most research does not support any significant improvement when gas drops are used, but anecdotally many mothers swear by it.
Gripe water and herbal teas
On the other hand, gripe water (and homemade herbal tea) is considered a more natural option. Gripe water is a supplement made with water and natural herbs known to aid in digestion such as fennel, ginger, and dill seed oil.
There isn’t a ton of research supporting its effectiveness, but a few small studies do seem to support the effectiveness of fennel seed extract and mixed herbal teas (source).
Again, anecdotally, many mamas see a positive effect on their baby’s gassiness with the use of gripe water.
A note about these remedies
When it comes to these products, I think it’s important to note that recommendations for babies under 4-6 months old is for a diet of exclusively breastmilk or formula.
Administering gas drops, gripe water, or an herbal tea may do more harm than good on such an immature digestive system that’s designed to digest only breastmilk (or formula).
For these reasons, many experts, including Kelly Mom, recommend avoiding these remedies.
2. Tummy time and the colic carry
You may be able to relieve your baby’s gas by putting them on their stomachs. This can be done with tummy time or by doing the colic carry—where baby is laid across your knees or laid on their tummy on your forearm.
The gentle pressure on their stomach while lying in these positions can help get their gas moving and provide relief.
Burping any baby after a feeding is good practice, but for very gassy babies it is a must. If your baby seems to get very gassy after eating or seems to swallow a lot of air during a feeding session, try to burp them frequently.
For breastfed babies, burp them when switching sides, or every 7-10 minute during a feed. For bottle fed babies, aim for a burping break after every 2-3 ounces or whenever baby starts arching or acting fussy during a feeding.
4. Choosing the right bottle
If your baby is bottle fed, you might want to switch to a bottle that’s designed to help with gassiness and prevent colic. Most of these options aim to reduce the amount of air that your baby can swallow during a feeding. Many try to mimic breastfeeding as best as possible.
Whenever you’re choosing a bottle, it’s best to find an option made from natural materials such as glass and silicone. I recognize that it’s not always possible, especially if an anti-gas bottle is a priority, but reducing your baby’s exposure to potential toxins (like those found in plastic) is always important to be aware of.
Some popular options include:
- Brown’s Natural Flow Glass Bottles with Silicone Nipples
- Comotomo 100% Silicone Bottles
- Phillips Anti Colic Bottles
5. Draw a warm bath
Nothing helped my babies when they were gassy better than a warm bath. The incline of their bath lounger and the warm water seemed to provide relaxing relief every time. A bath rub or bath seat that will cradle your baby and keep them cozy in the tub, helping to mimic the womb, can make bath time more relaxing.
Sometimes a bath can be so effective at relieving constipation, that you’ll have quite a mess on your hands 😉 but it’s definitely worth it!
6. Bicycle baby’s legs
You can help your baby pass gas and get trapped air moving by bicycling and stretching their legs. To do this, simply place your baby on their back and gently bicycle their legs. You can also put their legs together and rhythmically pull and push them in and out. You can also try gently rotating baby’s hips around to the right to help them pass gas.
7. Baby massage
Giving your baby massage is a wonderful way to bond with your baby, promote relaxation, and yes––relieve gas! To use infant massage for gas relief, try massaging their belly in a circular, clockwise motion using a few fingertips. You can also move the edge of your hand from their rib cage down their belly with light pressure.
Probiotics are gaining more and more attention as an effective and natural remedy for baby gas, colic, and general digestive upset. Probiotics work to balance and create healthy gut bacteria. This promotes regular digestive and may relieve gas.
In fact, there’s now research that fully supports probiotics as an effective treatment for colic (source). What’s more, Gerber Soothe Probiotic Colic drops have been clinically proven to reduce crying time and spit up frequency (both symptoms of gassy babies) in as little as two weeks (source).
9. Feeding well before sleep time
For babies that are prone to gas, it’s important to keep them upright for 20-30 minutes after a feeding. To help support this, try to feed your baby well before sleep times.
Feeding them right before a nap or bedtime can be a recipe for disaster. If they lay down right after eating, gas can build up and lead to a very fussy baby.
A sleep, eat, play routine can work well, wherein you aim to feed baby upon waking instead of right before sleep times. This can also help prevent a sleep association with nursing or bottle-feeding baby to sleep at night.
Another tip to help distance feeding from sleep time is to feed baby at the beginning of your nighttime routine instead of right before sleep.
Help you baby find natural gas relief with these tips
With these 9 tips for natural gas relief, I’m sure you will have your baby feeling better in no time! I know it’s hard to see our babies crying in pain from gas.
When you’re in it, especially in cases of extreme crying and colic, it can be extremely stressful. In the big picture, your baby’s gas is likely to be pretty short lived. Luckily, most babies outgrow gassiness by the time they are 4-6 months old.
Do you have another tip or trick to add to the list? We’d love to hear from you!