Got a Gassy Baby? 6 Tips to Relieve Infant Gas
No one likes a grumpy newborn: not mom, not dad, and certainly not the baby! One of the most common sources of infant discomfort is trapped gas. While it’s certainly frustrating, there are several steps you can take to reduce gassiness and get your little one back to feeling good.
Here are six tips and tricks we recommend for relieving and reducing infant gas:
Change feeding positions
Trapped gas occurs when an infant is unable to move gas out of the digestive system effectively. One of the easiest ways to help this process is by feeding your infant in an upright position. We want gravity’s help to keep the milk down which then lets the air up!
If you are bottle-feeding, try feeding your baby with his or her back sitting against your chest rather than laying down in the crook of your elbow. If you’re breastfeeding, try using the koala or upright football hold.
There is no limit to how often you can attempt to burp a gassy baby! The AAP recommends burping every 2-3 ounces if bottle feeding but some babies may need more than this. Try burping at different intervals, by ounces or feeding duration, to find a frequency that works for you.
You might also consider different positions for burping. While the baby-over-the-shoulder position is most well-known, many parents find that their baby burps more easily in a seated position with a parent’s hand cradling the chin and the other pushing up gently on the back.
Use an anti-gas or anti-colic bottle
Not all bottles are created equal! Some bottles have been specially designed to reduce the likelihood that an infant will swallow expelled air. Bottles with liners, vents, and inserts are typically a good option. Some recommendations include:
- Dr. Brown’s Anti-Colic bottle
- Evenflo Feeding Angled Vented Plus bottle
- Playtex Baby Nurser with Drop-In Liners
Additionally, many parents find that using a smaller-stage nipple is helpful (such as a preemie or stage 1 option). A nipple that allows milk to flow too fast may cause a baby to gulp and gasp-- this means they’ll take in air as they swallow. A slower flow nipple can help some infants control their air intake more efficiently as they’re feeding.
One of the reasons babies have gas is because their digestive systems are still so new. A baby’s gut microbiome, or the collection of beneficial and harmful bacteria in the gut, may be out of balance. Many parents give their baby infant probiotics to help correct this imbalance and reduce gastrointestinal symptoms.
Probiotics for babies are typically packaged as drops or powders that are added to formula or expressed milk. Additionally, some formulas, such as HiPP Dutch, contain both prebiotic and probiotic as standard ingredients. If you’d like to learn more about probiotics, check out Infant Probiotics: Does Your Baby Need Them? for a great overview.
Consider a specialized formula
While most babies can do well on a standard formula, some may need a formula that is specialized. The two options used most frequently for gastrointestinal symptoms are hydrolyzed and hypoallergenic formulas:
- Hydrolyzed. Formulas that are hydrolyzed have proteins that are broken down into smaller fragments so that they’re easier to digest. We recommend HiPP Comfort as our go-to organic, high-quality hydrolyzed formula.
- Hypoallergenic. Formulas that are hypoallergenic are more significant hydrolyzed and in some cases have proteins broken down into their smallest components-- amino acids. We recommend HiPP HA PRE if you need a hypoallergenic formula as it is both dairy- and corn-free. This makes it a good choice for babies with extra sensitive tummies or for those with Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy, or CMPA.
As a reminder, please always check with your pediatrician before introducing or switching to a specialized formula!
Perform infant exercises to get things moving
Does your baby need a workout? Not quite. There are, however, some exercises that you can do to help your baby’s gas move through the digestive system. We recommend the following exercises to reduce discomfort associated with gas:
- Bicycle legs: Place your baby on its back on the upper portion of your legs (your knees can be flat or bent). Slowly and gently bring the baby’s knee toward the chest and then bring it back down. Alternate the baby’s legs so that as one leg goes up, the other is coming down.
- Tummy massage: A baby who is struggling with gas might have a belly that feels slightly firm. You can help break up the gas by gently moving your hands in a circular motion around the infant’s stomach while the baby is on its back. We suggest you go clockwise as this follows the natural pattern of the digestive system!
- Lifted feet: Bringing your baby’s feet up above the belly button when he or she is reclining can help relax the pelvic floor. This is why many women choose to give birth in this position! As the pelvic floor relaxes, it more easily allows for gas to escape.
Gas is common in infants, especially for those who are formula-fed. A new baby’s digestive system is immature and may simply be struggling to adapt to a brand new way of feeding-- by mouth!
While we know it can be distressing, rest assured that in most cases, gas does not mean that something is wrong with your baby.We hope these tips and tricks help you on your journey to a happier kiddo! And if you need advice or suggestions about formula feeding, we’ve got you covered. Our Product Specialists would love to help you find the right formula that makes your baby feel great.