Andrea Tran RN, BSN, MA, IBCLC
When you dreamed about becoming a mom, you probably didn’t envision a screaming baby. But if your newborn is gassy, then a miserable baby is probably part of your reality. If your baby is spending much of the day crying because of gas, then you are probably desperate to find out how to treat your newborn’s gassy tummy. Many newborns experience a “fuss-period” during the “witching hour.” For many babies this is the evening, just when mama is so tired, or trying to eat something for dinner.
So why all the gas? What’s going on + How To Make It Better:
Gas is part of the normal digestive process. So, while you can’t eliminate gas in your baby, you can decrease fussy time with some simple gassy baby remedies.
Signs That Your Newborn is Actually Gassy
Babies cry for many reasons. To find what will provide relief, you need first to determine what the problem is. Many mamas just jump to a gassy tummy as the culprit, when in actuality, there are many factors to what make a baby fussy. They could be overly tired in the evening, not sure what they need (hello bad mood), or actually dealing with an upset tummy.
Your baby is probably suffering from gas if you notice these signs:
- Your baby cries a lot.
- Your baby squirms and pulls her legs up to her tummy.
- Your baby passes a lot of gas.
- Your baby is happier after passing gas.
Why Your Baby is Gassy
Different things can cause gas in your little one. One of the main reasons we can’t forget is that newborns’ digestive system is still developing after birth. As their systems mature, and more milk enters their body, it can be a difficult adjustment period. Many babies are gassy merely because their little bodies are still maturing, and after some time, it goes away.
Here’s some reasons why baby is gassy:
- Intolerance to something you are eating if you are breastfeeding (more detail on this to come).
- Intolerance to certain formulas if your baby is getting any formula
- Gulping a lot of air with feedings
- Moms with an overabundant milk supply
- Moms with a forceful milk let-down reflex
- Crying can result in your baby swallowing a lot of air.
- Eating very quickly when bottle-feeding
- Tongue-tied babies are often gassy. The tongue-tie affects the way the baby swallows.
Foods That Can Make Your Newborn Gassy
Breastfeeding moms may be able to decrease their newborn’s fussiness with some dietary adjustments. There still isn’t a lot of research on this topic, so many mamas have to use instinct and trial and error to find wihich food is causing the upset tummy.
Certain foods are known for causing gas in people. It is important to know that eating those foods when you are a breastfeeding mom won’t cause your baby to have gas.
Did you catch that important note? Foods that give you gas, won’t necessarily give your baby gas. This is really important because mny mamas wrongly assume their baby is gassy from the same foods that make mommy gassy.
Eating foods like broccoli and cabbage cause gas in mama because they contain a particular sugar that is not digested until your gut bacteria ferment it. That fermenting causes your gas. There are not little pieces of broccoli in your milk when you eat broccoli. This means that the actual fibrous particles that cause you gas CAN NOT pass to baby. These particles are not water soluble, and they remain in YOUR digestive tract. This is KEY to really solving the problem with gas in your baby.
The hidden foods giving your baby gas:
- Dairy products
- Soy products
- Nuts and legumes
While these foods may not cause gas, they can make a baby fussy, and the crying can result in a lot of air being swallowed. Notice how I didn’t mention broccoli, cabbage, spinach or other “gassy” foods. Many mamas don’t realize the hidden culprits are the list above.
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The foods on the list contain specific proteins, and protein is what enters your breast milk. Caffeine also enters the breast milk. The proteins can be difficult for baby to break down when they are still developing, causing excess gas and uncomfortable tummies.
All babies are different. A food that makes one baby miserable may not affect another baby at all. Determining which foods, if any, you should avoid will involve trial and error.
Keep a diet diary where you record what you eat, when you eat it, and any fussiness that occurs in your baby. Make sure your diary includes ALL foods, not just foods you believe to be causing the gas. Eliminate from the list above first, then other foods if the upset tummy continues. If it is not one of the foods we’ve listed, you can try to eliminate veggies and fruits, only after you’ve given enough time off all foods above. If baby is still gassy, their tummies are most likely still developing and it will pass in a few weeks.
Gassy Newborn Remedies
- Simethicone drops are available over the counter. Many moms have reported that these drops have been an effective remedy for their gassy newborn.
- Talk to your baby’s doctor about his formula. Sometimes switching formula can make a baby less gassy.
- Standing and holding your baby in an upright position often makes them stop crying. I am not entirely sure why this is. I just know it usually works.
- Gripe water is a common remedy for newborns who have a gassy tummy.
- Paced bottle-feeding will help a baby eat more slowly and avoid swallowing a lot of air.
- Moms with an overabundant milk supply might want to try block feeding. This is where you feed your baby from one side for a block of time.
- If you have an average supply, make sure you always let your baby finish the first breast before offering the other breast. This will help ensure he gets the part of the milk that has more fat.
- If you have a forceful let-down reflex positioning your baby so his head is higher than your breast can help. Using the football hold or the laid back breastfeeding positions are good positions to try.
- Extra burping helps gets the air out of their tummy before it causes problems.
- Tummy time will provide some pressure on your baby’s abdomen, which can help relieve gassiness.
- Do the bicycle motion with your baby’s legs to help them pass the gas.
- Probiotics are available for babies. Talk to your baby’s doctor about trying this newborn gassy tummy remedy.
- Time. As your newborn’s digestive system matures, bouts of gassiness will occur less frequently.
Gassy or Colic – How to Tell?
I always encourage mamas to try to find the cause of their baby’s fussiness. However, there are some babies who have colic. To decide if your baby has colic, ask if the crying follows the rule of three.
- Your baby cries for more than three hours a day.
- Your baby cries more often than three days a week.
- This crying pattern lasts more than three weeks.
- Colic crying usually starts after a baby is three weeks old.
- Colic crying goes away by three months of age.
- Your baby is healthy and growing at a normal rate.
I hope after reading this, you have a better idea of how to help your gassy newborn. Having a fussy baby is really hard on mamas. Make sure that you take good care of yourself during this trying time of motherhood.