Young babies sometimes get “gassy”, which is when air is trapped in their digestive tract. This is uncomfortable and can make them fussy. Usually gassiness is simply due to an immature digestive system, but sometimes it’s because they take in too much air when feeding or crying. Common signs include baby pulling legs up to chest or squirming as if uncomfortable. Your baby may also get red in the face or fussy before passing gas and then seem relieved. As babies get older it gets better, but in the meantime there are a few things you can do to offer some relief.
Reclined nursing: If you have a fast let down or flow, your baby may guzzle or choke and pull off the breast, causing excess air intake. Try reclining while you nurse to work against gravity. You can also try using a milk collector during letdown and switch to nursing once your flow is a bit less strong.
Paced bottle feeding: Use a smaller bottle nipple size, hold baby upright, and hold bottle at 45° angle (not straight up) while feeding to slow milk flow. This helps baby avoid guzzling and losing their latch, which can cause excess air intake.
Burping: Burp your baby when you switch breasts or every 2-3 oz, and again at the end. If your baby doesn’t burp, lay them on their back for a couple minutes and then try again. Don’t worry if it still doesn’t happen—sometimes they just don’t burp.
Keeping calm: When babies cry they take in excess air, so try to reduce crying by anticipating or responding right away to hunger and sleepy cues.
Tummy massage: Use 2-3 fingers to gently but firmly make circular motions up and around their belly clockwise (to work in the same direction as the colon) to relax bowel muscles.
Warm bath: Give your baby a warm bath or put a warm towel or washcloth across their belly.
Bicycle kicks: Lay baby on their back and bring legs towards their chest one at a time in an alternating bicycle motion, or bring both bent legs to chest and “roll” them in a circular motion.
Tummy time: Gentle pressure on the belly and movement in general can help ease gas pains and move things along.
Some are quick to blame a breasfeeding mom's diet for any digestive challenges her baby has, but there is limited conclusive evidence linking the two. Still, it makes sense to pay attention to whether your baby seems fussier after you eat certain foods, such as dairy. If you notice any patters, try removing these specific foods (one at a time) to see if it makes a difference.
Gas drops (simethicone) can help break down gas bubbles while probiotic drops are meant to improve digestive health over the longer term, which some say helps ease digestive issues. There's not a ton of evidence showing whether either of these actually work, but they are safe and lots of parents like them so it could be worth a shot.
Gas and constipation relief tubes like the Fridababy Windi, which has a tip that you insert into your baby's rectum as you would a rectal thermometer, can help your baby pass gas or have a bowel movement by stimulating the rectal sphincter. Use as directed but don't use too often so your baby does not become reliant on it.
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Your baby seems to be in pain when passing gas or a bowel movement
Fussiness or excessive crying during or after feeds or when spitting up
Refusal to eat or arching back away during feedings