Signs and Solutions For Gassy Breastfed Babies
What are some common culprits behind your baby's gassiness? Learn the signs, foods that may cause gassiness in your baby, and how to soothe and relieve his or her symptoms.
As a new parent, it can be stressful and upsetting to see and hear your baby cry. That’s especially true if you've checked off all the usual suspects— dirty diaper, empty belly, discomfort, or over-tiredness —and you still can’t seem to soothe your little one.
Gas is something that many newborns experience, and it can be painful for them! It isn't always the first thing that parents remember to consider, since it's not something easily visible.
Signs Your Breastfed Baby is Gassy
If you suspect excess gas could be the culprit causing your baby’s fussiness, there are several signs that may indicate you are correct:
- Burping. It’s possible your baby has swallowed too much air while nursing or crying for a long period.
- Spitting up. While spitting up is perfectly normal, gas that’s trapped in the stomach can push breast milk back up and cause your baby to spit up.
- Bloated tummy. This could be a sign that gas has built up in your baby’s stomach.
- Flatulence. Every baby toots, but if they’re doing so excessively, it could mean they have excess gas.
- Arched back, legs drawn toward the tummy. The discomfort from gas pains will make a baby try to adjust to alleviate it.
Gassy Baby Causes
Gas in a breastfed baby is not uncommon and can be attributed to several factors:
- Gulping while feeding. If your milk let-down reflex is strong, your baby may gulp your milk to keep up and swallow extra air in the process. If that’s the case, your little one may do better nursing in a more upright position, so he or she has better control over milk intake and flow.
- Introducing a bottle. If your baby is used to the breast and you begin feeding with a bottle, it may take some getting used to at first. As a result, he or she may swallow too much air while eating.
- Constipation. When your baby is constipated, they may have gas trapped in their tummies that they’re having a hard time releasing.
- Crying. If your baby has been crying for a long time, they may be gulping in air in the process.
- Mom’s diet. Food that you’ve eaten can make your baby gassy as well. Certain foods such as dairy, soy or wheat may contribute to gassiness in your little one. Keep a food journal of what you eat to see if you can pinpoint the culprit in your diet.
Foods That Make Breastfed Babies Gassy
Though a baby’s gas is not commonly linked to mom’s diet, there are certain gas-inducing foods that could give both a breastfeeding mom and her baby gas. These include:
- Fiber. Foods like bran, beans, and whole grains.
- Fruit. Citrus fruits, prunes, plums, peaches, or apricots.
- Vegetables. Broccoli, cabbage, and Brussel sprouts.
- Garlic. Garlic-seasoned foods like pasta dishes or garlic bread.
- Dairy. Yogurt, ice cream, or milk products.
- Carbonated beverages. If they make you burp, they could make your baby gassy too.
It’s not necessary to give up all your favorite foods when pregnant and/or breastfeeding. Health experts recommend only making dietary changes if you see a direct connection between something you’ve eaten and your baby's gassiness.
Additionally, if you’re still breastfeeding after your little one begins solids or finger foods, it’s easier to detect what food might be the culprit and then eliminate it.
Relieving Gassy Babies
There are several effective ways to help relieve your baby’s gas pains and soothe them. Try a combination of these to find what works best for your little one.
- Burp twice. Try to coax two burps out of your baby instead of just one.
- Sit upright. Hold your baby in an upright position while burping. This makes it easier to expel gas.
- Tummy time. Laying your baby on their tummy will help to push gas out.
- Bicycle exercises. Put your baby on his or her back and move their legs in a pedaling motion, similar to cycling on a bike. This helps with constipation as well.
- Massage the tummy. A gentle massage can help move gas out.
- Adjust baby’s latch. Make sure your baby is latching correctly to avoid swallowing too much air.
Don't worry, mama - Gas is typically a normal occurrence and most babies experience gassiness from time to time! With some minor adjustments, you can soothe your little one and help them get through the discomfort of gas.