Is your breastfed baby gassy?
A gassy, breastfed baby often has more than one issue causing discomfort. All babies do have gas, but some, unfortunately, struggle a little more than others.
Signs that Baby has Bad Gas
- Baby forms a fist with his/her hands most of the time.
- Pulling the legs upwards towards the body.
- Newborn gas pain can cause excessive crying after feeds.
- Babies with gas usually spit up a lot.
- Extra gas in babies causes a lot of burping.
- Flatulence (passing gas/wind).
- Baby’s abdomen seems bloated and tight.
- Baby has diarrhea or constipation.
- Baby struggles to stay asleep.
10 Ways to Relieve and Prevent Gassiness in Your Baby
Keep in mind that some gassiness is normal. Infant gas is a result of the digestion of proteins, lactose, and other nutrients found in breast milk or formula. Give it time to pass. All babies have immature digestive systems in the beginning, and no matter what you do, your baby will still have some degree of gassiness.
A baby may take in lots of air via the mouth while feeding (breastfeeding or bottle feeding).
Burp your baby as often as possible. If possible, try burping your baby every five minutes while breastfeeding. Also, try different burping positions, like the 'over the shoulder pat,' ' over the knee pat' or 'knee bounce' or just let your baby sit upright while you pat his/her back.
Lose the Dummy and Check Your Latch
Babies that use pacifiers often take in some extra air while sucking on the pacifier. You might think that you are calming your baby by giving them a pacifier, but the additional air intake could cause increased gas pain and even sleep disturbance.
A poor latch can cause a gassy tummy. In bottle-fed babies, the gas is due to artificial nipples that are too fast or slow flowing.
Calm Surroundings will Soothe a Gassy Breastfed Baby
Is your breastfed baby especially gassy at night?
A crying baby will gulp air; this extra air can cause gassiness and cramping.
The more activity (noise, movement, etc.), the more fussy and gassy your baby is likely to be - especially at night.
Swaddling can help by providing warmth, pressure and the feeling of still being in the womb. Babies calm down sooner and easier when you imitate the womb environment.
A warm bath can help your baby relax and will help the gasses escape.
Too Much Too Fast
Hyperlactation syndrome is when a mother has an oversupply of breast milk. Baby will then drink too much of the watery foremilk and not enough of the substantial hindmilk. The foremilk is higher in lactose, and this causes your baby’s tummy to cramp; your baby might also eat more often, because he/she is not feeling satisfied, making the gassy stomach symptoms even worse.
If you feel that an oversupply of milk has caused the gas problem, you can try offering alternative breasts at each feeding, allowing your baby to empty only one breast at a feeding. If your other breast becomes too full, you can pump a little for relief; this will help decrease your supply and also get your baby drinking the fatty hindmilk, too; this will prevent some infant gassiness.
'Complete drainage and block feedings are recommended, the mother nurses from a single breast for a block of time (3 h). She then alternates breasts for successive blocks. In this way, milk accumulates in the unused breast and should decrease milk supply. It is reported that the complete drainage of both breasts before beginning the block feedings reduces the excess milk supply, and thereby reduces the mother's engorgement and the infant's difficulties feeding.' (1)
A forceful milk let-down (when the milk starts to flow) might cause your baby's gas problems. If your baby is gulping and choking while breastfeeding because of an overactive let-down, he/she will be swallowing a lot of air. Making sure that your baby is sitting in an upright position while breastfeeding will help the extra milk flow down, instead of causing increased air intake.
Your baby’s gut is still developing in the first four months and lacks the intestinal flora that evolves with time.
'Probiotics may play a crucial part in the manipulation of the microbiota. Probiotic administration is likely to maintain intestinal homeostasis through the modulation of permeability and peristalsis, influencing the gut-brain axis and inhibiting hypersensitivity.' (2)
Formula feeding has been found to cause more gas, spitting up, colic symptoms and constipation than breastfeeding.
Are there certain breastfeeding positions to reduce gas?
Yes. Breastfeed your baby in a reclining position, football hold position or lying down position will help the extra milk flow away from your baby’s mouth, preventing additional air intake.
Carry your baby around in an upright position; this will help bring up any additional air. Carrying your baby in the football hold will also help relieve the pain and gas, due to the gentle pressure on the tummy area.
Give your baby a tummy massage to help release the trapped air; this can be done a half an hour after feeds and when your baby is showing signs of bloating. You can buy tummy packets that can be warmed up and placed on your little one's tummy too.
Aniseed Water Baby Gas Remedy
This gives natural & effective gas relief to infants. Boil ½ tsp of anise seed in 500ml of water for five minutes. Let cool and then give your infant 2 – 3 drops if your baby is under six months old; half a dropper for up to a year old. You can keep this mixture in the fridge for three days. You can give it to your baby every three hours for fast gas relief.
What About Solids?
Foods that cause gas in breastfed babies...
Any foods that have been given directly to your baby may cause extra gassiness. Babies who are starting solids often struggle with excess gas until their tummies become accustomed to digesting food.
Premature weaning can also cause excessive gas pain in babies. When introducing solids, a baby should never be younger than four months (preferably six months); offer cereals that are specially designed for babies; and introduce high fiber foods slowly, to give his/her digestive tract time to adjust.
Breastfed Baby Gas Relief & The Cuddle Cure
There are many different ways you can soothe a crying baby, it's finding the right one that's the tricky part. I'll share some techniques that worked for us and will hopefully give you a starting point.
Dr. Harvey Karp demonstrating the Cuddle Cure to soothe a crying baby.
The Cuddle Cure Steps
- First, you swaddle your baby and then pick them up.
- Hold them in a side lying or stomach lying position.
- Then you start shhh'ing as loud as the baby is crying, decreasing your volume as baby calms down.
- You can then offer the baby a clean finger, or you can provide the breast for sucking on.
- Gently but purposefully swing/sway/rock/"jiggle" your baby while doing the above.
- One thing that will surprise you is that the shhhh'ing is much louder than you'd expect. Dr. Harvey even does it pretty close to the baby's ear. From our own experience, the dads usually have faster results, because they can shhh so much louder.
If you're wondering why do it so loud? Well, have you ever put your ears under the water in your bath while the tap is open? It gets pretty loud, and it's the same intensity the baby hears in the amniotic fluid. The womb is by no means a quiet place. The sound of the mother's blood flowing, the sound of her intestines digesting food and her heart beating are all very close to her baby.
If you've ever had an ultrasound done and were able to listen to the heartbeat, you'll know what the other noises sound like too. A doppler also gives you a good idea.
The same goes for the movement. As you went about your day during your pregnancy, you didn't walk slower or more gently. Your baby was rocked by your natural way of movement. If your baby does not stop crying, you will want to recreate that same feeling for them, by swaying/rocking or "jiggling" (as Dr. Harvey refers to it).
Whether the baby sucks on the mother's breast, on their own hand or on your clean finger, it doesn't matter. What does matter is that they suck on something to soothe themselves.
Once your baby starts to calm down, you can slowly take away one of the s' at a time. You might even learn which combination of these work better for your baby. If your baby doesn't like being swaddled, leave it out and use the other fours'.
There is a difference between this type of movement and shaking a baby. People quickly comment that it's never a good idea to shake a baby when they first see the video of Dr. Harvey doing this but rest assured he is not shaking the baby. And the baby's head, neck, and back are supported at all times, which makes Shaken Baby Syndrome unlikely.
Whatever works for you and your baby, do that!
Can I Give My Baby Gas Through Breastfeeding?
Extra gas is mostly due to normal gastric development and swallowing of air while feeding. Mom should try to rectify these things mentioned above, before changing her diet. The food that a breastfeeding mother eats can sometimes affect her baby. Not all foods affect all babies in the same way. Also, the use of any medication taken by Mom or Baby may cause extra gassiness. See "what foods cause gas in breastfed babies?"
When to Call the Doctor
- If you suspect that your baby has gastro.
- If your infant has long periods of uncontrolled crying.
- If your baby seems to have developed unusual symptoms such as diarrhea or constipation.
1. Management of hyperlactation syndrome by full drainage and block feeding methods
Lucca Jisha M Lucca1, Arathi Santhosh2
Flavia Indrio Vanessa Nadia Dargenio Paola Giordano Ruggiero Francavilla