Gas problems, be it burps or flatulence, are extremely common in babies, but listening to your little one suffering the pangs of gas pains can be just as painful for you. You will be caught by surprise exactly how much gas that little body can hold. While gassiness might be normal in babies, some babies might have trouble passing it naturally. Gas problems can lead to cramps, bloating, spit-ups, flatulence and restlessness.
If your baby is gassy, you can take comfort in the fact that it is typically not an indicator of more severe problems. You might be surprised to know that it is completely normal for adults and babies alike to pass gas between 12 to 24 times a day. But if you do notice that it is causing increasing discomfort in your infant, there are plenty of things you can do to provide your little one with some relief.
My baby is gassy: What are the causes?
A combination of factors can contribute to your baby’s gas problems. Babies do not have the same amounts of enzymes as adults, and their digestive systems are still developing.
- Swallowed air: Babies cry, and crying causes them to swallow more air than breathing. Crying could be the leading culprit of gas problems in babies, which can cause a vicious cycle. They cry because they are uncomfortable, and the more air they swallow, the more uncomfortable it makes them. Sucking quickly on the breast can also cause air bubbles to get stuck, which can cause really painful pressure in their little bodies.
- Normal breakdown of foods: Gas is a normal by-product of the digestion process. When your baby feeds, you can expect at least some gassiness soon afterwards.
- Digestive problems: If your baby is gassy, he might have a digestive system that is sensitive to change. When you switch your baby over to a new formula, or introduce him to other liquids, it can cause gassiness. This will happen more often once your baby starts on solids.
- Hyper lactation syndrome: When you have an abundant supply of milk, the force during a feed along with high contents of lactose in the foremilk can cause stomach cramps in your baby.
My baby is gassy: How can I help him?
There are many effective and inexpensive ways to treat your baby’s gas problems. Burping after a feed is one commonly known method. This reduces the amount of air in his stomach, but it is not always the most effective method once the gas has passed into the intestinal tract. If this does not work, you can try a few other at-home physical therapies if your baby is gassy.
- Allow lots of supervised playtime where you baby can crawl around on his or her tummy. This can help reduce air bubbles.
- Lay your little one on his back and move his legs in a cycling motion. This “exercise” helps to put a little pressure on their stomach.
- Massage your baby’s tummy. The slight pressure will be soothing and help him to pass quicker.
- Carry your baby with the “football hold”. Let him lay tummy down on your forearm.
- During feeds, try to keep your baby’s head higher than the stomach, so that the milk goes straight down and air comes out of his mouth. If you bottle-feed, also make sure that there are no air bubbles in the teat.
RELATED: Caring for your colicky baby
The good news is that as your baby matures, so will their intestinal track. And hence the frequency of painful gas will decrease. Gas problems in your baby should not be mistaken for colic, even though this condition can also increase gassiness.
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