Trapped gas can make your baby (and you!) absolutely miserable. If your little one is fussy or cries a lot, or you see them arching their back or pulling their legs up and down, you may be dealing with some tooty troubles. While it's sometimes just the product of an underdeveloped digestive system, it doesn't help if your baby is swallowing a lot of air while feeding, and sometimes a gassy tummy is the result of a sensitivity to certain foods or formulas.
Luckily, frazzled parents have tested plenty of remedies to relieve gassy babies, ranging from paediatrician-approved to a little less proven but perhaps still worth a try. These tips will hopefully help your backed-up babe pass a whole lot of gas in no time.
If you have overabundant breastmilk and a strong letdown, which normally settles after a little while, you can try manually expressing some milk before each feed. This way, your baby isn't given tons of milk right off the bat, which can cause them to gulp for air. If you're using a bottle, try paced bottle feeding, which mimics the breastfeeding experience by letting your baby control the flow of milk so they take in less air and avoid overfeeding.
One way to relieve your baby’s gas problem is to make sure the gas never starts building up in the first place. You can do this by being mindful about burping your baby after every meal, even if that means waking them up after they’ve dozed off. Burping a baby twice can also be a good idea to get all the gas out—one time mid-meal and once afterwards. One cool baby burping trick is to sit them upright on your knee while supporting their head to just let the burps flow (you can find a simple how-to here).
Gently massaging your baby’s tummy throughout the day can help to move things along in their bodies—just be sure to wait at least 30 minutes after a feed and pay attention to their responses to know if what you’re doing has worked or if you need to lessen the pressure. You can try specific techniques, such as rubbing clockwise (the direction the digestive system works in), and some parents swear by baby massage oils that contain ingredients like chamomile.
Not only is tummy time essential for a baby's development, helping to build their core strength and head control, but it can also help them with stubborn gas much like a tummy massage would. Being active is a great way to encourage gas to pass through their little bodies. Here are 8 fun tummy time activities to try.
Holding your baby with their tummy across your arm or lap while massaging their back is also known to soothe their discomfort. While it's usually used for colicky babies, it can help relieve gassiness, too.
Although there's no scientific evidence to back the use of gripe water, a liquid supplement which usually consists of sugar water and herbs, some parents still swear by it. Doctors caution that using it can give parents a false sense of security (and it does go against the World Health Organization's recommendation that newborns up to 6 months be given only breastmilk or formula), but it won't hurt to try.
Like gripe water, there is little evidence that gas drops work consistently, but many parents still believe that they are effective. Unlike gripe water, they contain the drug simethicone, which is safe for infants and said to combine small gas bubbles into larger ones that can be passed more easily.
Although there's no great evidence that probiotics help gassiness in babies, paediatrician Dr. Dina Kulik said she saw improvement in 50 percent of babies who took them. Heads up though, some parents say that probiotics made the problem worse.
A single-use tube that’s touted as a natural reliever for constipation, colic, and other gas-related problems, Windi the Gaspasser will appeal to parents who are looking for an instant solution to their baby’s gas. Similar to the method of swirling a rectal thermometer to relieve gas, the Windi is a soft, hollow, pliable tube that is inserted into your baby's bottom and reaches past the muscle that prevents the release of gas (but don't worry, it also includes a stopper to prevent it from going in too far).
The type of formula you feed your baby as well as how you give it can both impact their gassiness. You can try different formulas to find the one that best agrees with your baby's stomach. And because air bubbles form after powdered formula is shaken up, it's a good idea to let the formula settle before feeding your babe.
In most cases, elimination diets for moms (cutting out gassy foods in the mother's diet) don't help a baby's gas. But if your gassy baby has already started solids, limiting their intake of gassy foods can help prevent a gassy backup. It's also important to watch out for accompanying symptoms like low weight gain, diarrhea or skin rashes, which could indicate a milk protein allergy.
Along the same lines as tummy time or the colic carry, gently holding a baby's legs and pulling them in and out in a bicycling motion can solve the problem mechanically by making the gas move through their bowels. You can sporadically push both legs into their tummy, slowly but firmly, and the farts should fly.
While it's not clear how a foot massage might alleviate gas, you only need to turn your volume up on this Instagram video to see that it works. Whether it's because different areas of the foot are connected to different organs, or because it's just relaxing, it could be worth trying on a gassy baby.
It's always best to check with your doctor before trying a new treatment or supplement, or switching formulas. If your baby seems to be having an allergic reaction, is constipated or is refusing to eat and losing or failing to gain weight, check with your doctor to rule out other conditions that could be causing the gas.