Table of Contents
- Could it be your diet?
- What causes gas & gas prevention?
- How to help a baby with gas
- Keeping a food journal
- An elimination diet
- Baby foods that cause gas
Could It Be Something in My Diet?
There is no specific food list that every breastfeeding mother should avoid. But - certain foods may occasionally bother some babies; this is a somewhat rare occurrence and is more prevalent in newborns.
Remember, foods are unlikely to cause an issue since breastmilk is derived from what passes through a mother's blood, not from her digestive tract. Therefore, there is no reason to avoid any foods unless your baby is showing a reaction to something in your diet. Keeping a food journal is advised (discussed below).
Most babies are okay with any food that a mother eats. Gassiness is normal, and some babies are gassier than others, especially in the evenings. This is because a baby's gut is immature, and it takes time for a baby's digestive system to develop fully. Also, gas is more easily managed as a baby becomes mobile from 4 months onward. Most food restrictions are unnecessary.
If a mother had to limit all the foods that "may cause gassiness," she would end up with a very bland, restricted diet. A balanced diet is needed to replenish what has been lost while breastfeeding. Therefore, eliminating only one suspected culprit food at a time is recommended (food elimination diet discussed below).
Gassiness is usually associated with excessive burping, spitting up, flatulence, and bloating. They may also cry a high-pitched cry, clench their fists and move their knees towards their tummy. If your baby is not showing colic symptoms, then I would just give it some time. Most babies are going to be gassy no matter what you do.
Formula-fed babies have been found to struggle with constipation, gas, colic symptoms, spitting up, and gut issues much more than breastfed babies. So, keep giving your baby the best form of nutrition possible, breastmilk!
What Causes Gas in Breastfed Babies? & How to Prevent Gas
Other than normal gastric development, and food allergies, the following things can also cause wind in breastfed babies.
- When a baby drinks too much milk too quickly, this can cause the baby to choke and swallow air.
- Excessive crying may cause your baby to swallow air. A mother must respond to her baby's hunger cues quickly.
- Artificial nipples and pacifiers can cause extra air intake. Paced bottle feeding is recommended for those mothers who are using a bottle.
- Constipation can cause gassiness. Some breastfed babies can go up to 10 days without a stool, which is normal. You only need to worry if your baby's stools are hard and your baby's tummy is bloated and taut. See constipation in breastfed babies.
- Your baby may be sensitive to anything they consume besides your milk, such as vitamins, baby formula, tea, medications, solid foods (discussed below), and juice.
- Will drinking carbonated sodas cause gas in a baby? No, the bubbles in these drinks cannot pass into the breastmilk as they would first have to pass through the bloodstream. Caffeine and sugar, on the other hand, may cause issues.
- If a mother is gassy, could this make her baby gassy? Absolutely not; a mother's gas cannot pass into her breastmilk.
- An oversupply of breast milk can cause a foremilk-hindmilk imbalance. This will result in a lactose overload accompanied by green, mucousy explosive stools and lots of gas. See foremilk-hindmilk imbalance.
- A shallow latch can cause a baby to swallow air. Learn more about latching on here.
Other Ways to Reduce Gas in Babies
- Baby massage is a practical, fast way to soothe a gassy baby. Learn more about baby massage here.
- During a feeding session, burp your baby often (every 5 - 10 minutes). Try different burping positions. Give your baby at least 3 minutes to allow the air to escape.
- Tummy time will help to drive out the trapped gas. This should be done 30 minutes after feeding.
- Rubbing your baby's tummy in a clockwise motion will also help to get things moving.
- Gently rolling a baby on an exercise ball is often done to relieve gas.
- Holding your baby in a football hold will help.
- Keep your baby upright for at least a half hour after feedings.
- Try shorter but more frequent feedings.
- Bicycle your baby's legs. This motion can help to release the trapped air. While your baby is lying on their back, you can move their legs in a cycling motion slowly back and forth as if they were riding a bicycle.
- Keep a food journal to identify culprit foods in your diet.
Keeping a Food Journal
It would be a good idea to maintain a food journal to keep a record of the foods you eat and your baby’s fussiness during the day. Symptoms to take note of include excessive spitting up, excessive crying, night waking, diarrhea, diaper rash, congestion, or a runny nose. Severe allergic reactions to look out for are eczema, hives, projectile vomiting, and difficulty breathing.
Common foods that cause gas in breastfed babies
Common trigger foods that upset babies' stomachs while breastfeeding are; dairy products, wheat, soy, eggs, spicy foods, legumes, caffeinated foods or drinks, corn, and so-called gassy foods (onion, garlic, cabbage, broccoli, and more).
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Breastfed Baby Gas Relief via an Elimination Diet
A culprit food will usually take two hours after consumption to cause discomfort in a baby. If you have noticed that your baby is sensitive towards something in your diet after keeping a food journal for a while, you can try to eliminate that specific food for a week and see how your baby reacts. Some foods may take longer to completely clear from your body, but you should see an improvement within days of elimination. Have a chat with your local la Leche leader, they can assess your specific situation, and their services are free.
Once you have removed a particular food from your diet, know that you can, at a later stage, reintroduce it. Most babies outgrow food intolerances.
Baby Foods That Cause Gas
Once your baby has started eating solids, it's a whole other ball game. Common foods that cause gas for babies who have started solids include the following:
Apricots, Beans, Bran, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Citrus fruits, Oatmeal, Peaches, Pears, Plums, and Prunes.
Learn more about the introduction of solids.