My breastfed baby is super gassy and seems uncomfortable a lot of the time. Could it be something in my diet?
Gassiness and abdominal discomfort are common in newborns but typically get better after two months of age. Many parents blame maternal diet, though there is not a lot of evidence that what mom eats affects the baby. The one caveat to this is dairy: Many babies are indeed sensitive to the dairy moms ingest through foods such as milk, yogurt and cheese. This is called cow’s milk protein intolerance (CMPI). There is no test for it, but your baby might have it if they have gassiness and abdominal discomfort when you consume dairy before breastfeeding (it can take up to two weeks for breastmilk to be free of dairy protein after mom eats it).
Some babies will even develop bloody, mucousy diarrhea. About 20 percent of cow’s-milk-sensitive babies are also sensitive to soy ingested by their moms. For this reason, when I encounter a sensitive, gassy baby, I suggest mom try a dairy- and soy-free diet for two weeks to see if there is an improvement. (Or, if your baby is formula-fed, try a dairy- and soy-free formula.) If your baby is happier after the switch, I suggest continuing on a dairy- and soy-free diet for two months and then slowly reintroducing dairy into your diet again. If your baby is gassy, irritable, refusing feeds or sleeping poorly, I would suggest trying again at four months, six months, nine months and so on. The vast majority of babies outgrow CMPI by age one.
If cutting out dairy and soy doesn’t seem to improve the gassiness, talk to your doctor about using simethicone (Ovol) or gripe water (an over-the-counter liquid supplement that contains sodium bicarbonate and herbs). There is no research proving these remedies work, though, just anecdotal evidence. Massaging their tummy or moving their legs in a bicycle motion can also help make your gassy baby more comfortable.