MS, RDN, CDN
Allison is a registered dietitian who holds a Master’s in Nutrition and Physical Fitness. She also loves helping families get creative with their wellness choices.
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Read time: 6 minutes
One of the most common concerns parents have is their baby’s gas. While gas is usually not harmful, the pressure that gas bubbles create may cause pain when it becomes trapped in your baby’s stomach or intestines.1
Gas is particularly common during the first 3 months of life when your little one’s digestive tract is still maturing.2 You may even notice it’s worse at night.3 Most of the time, gas is from swallowing too much air, but there may be other reasons your little one is gassy.
Read on to learn how to help your baby with gas.
Not sure how to help your little one? Come chat with our team of registered dietitians, fellow moms, and lactation specialists, available from Monday – Friday 8 am – 8 pm (EST) and Saturday – Sunday 8 am – 4 pm (EST). Chat now!
If your little one is not latching deep enough, they may be swallowing more air. A painful latch or a ‘clicking’ sound made while baby is feeding may indicate their latch needs adjusting,13, 14 Shallow latches are often remedied with a new breastfeeding position along with some minor latch corrections. If you’re able, get in touch with a lactation consultant who can help with proper technique.
Note that if every position is painful even after corrections, call your baby’s health care provider to check for other causes, such as tongue-tie or flat / inverted nipples.
Have questions about your little one’s latch? Chat live with our Happy Baby Experts for free breastfeeding support. Chat now!
Read more: Top Latching Tips
If you find your breastmilk sprays out forcefully during the first few minutes of a feeding, causing baby to cough, clamp down, or pop off the breast, you may have a strong let down or oversupply.25 Trying to drink milk so fast often causes baby to also take in quite a bit of air.
Here are some tips to help your little one handle your overactive let-down:
For many moms, having a strong let-down is normal during the first few weeks when breastmilk supply increases dramatically and is regulated by hormones.11 Once the body understands how much milk your baby needs, breastmilk production regulates in response to supply and demand. This often happens around 4 weeks postpartum and many women notice their let-downs are no longer as forceful.12
Read more: Breastfeeding Positions
Learn more: How and When to Hand Express
While it’s rare for mom’s diet to be the cause of infant gas, it does happen occasionally.20 If you suspect that your baby may be sensitive to something in your diet, keep a food log. Track your meals and beverages for several days along with the gas symptoms your baby is exhibiting. Check to see if any patterns or links emerge.
Since it’s fairly uncommon for your baby to react to something you are eating, try not to go overboard finding a dietary cause.20 You and your little one both need a full range of nutrients to support good health and development. Taking too many things out of your diet may have other potentially negative health effects.21 Additionally, the hardship of following such a strict eating pattern has been linked with women stopping their breastfeeding journey early.21
Learn more: Is your baby reacting to something in your milk?
Sometimes a nipple size that is too big or a bottle latch that is too shallow can make your baby swallow more air. Paced bottle feeding helps your little one regulate the flow of milk similar to how they would while breastfeed.
Use a newborn or stage 1 nipple to ensure the flow of milk is not too fast.
Learn how to use Paced Bottle Feeding
Ask our Happy Baby Experts about bottle feeding if you have more questions! Chat now
Tummy Time: This position can put gentle pressure on your baby’s belly, helping to provide gas relief. Wait at least 30 minutes after a feeding to allow your little one’s belly to settle before starting tummy time.7
Or try a more advanced move – use both hands and a lot of guided support to lay your baby tummy down on a large beach or exercise ball and gently roll her on the ball in a circular motion.
Forearm Hold: Also called the football hold, magic hold, and the colic carry. Try carrying your baby face down with her body resting on your forearm, the front of her diaper area in your hand and her chin cradled in your elbow.9 Make sure to tilt baby’s head to the side to avoid blocking their nose or mouth. Carrying your little one in this face-down position will place the same gentle pressure on their belly that is achieved during tummy time.
Take a break between sides or even during a feed to get a burp or two out.8
You may choose to burp your baby while they are in a seated position, with their head supported by the cradle of your hand.17You can also burp your baby in the typical position: upright and over your shoulder.8
Be patient while burping because it may take some time for the gas bubbles to surface. You can always try laying baby down for a moment or two to let the bubbles re-settle and then lifting baby up and trying again. If your little one doesn’t burp after a few minutes, it’s ok to move on.
While your baby is laying on their back, gently rub their tummy in a clockwise motion and then pull your hands down the curve of the belly. Massaging in a clockwise direction helps to move gas along as that is the route the intestinal tract follows.19 Repeat several times to help move trapped gas.
Read more: Baby massage benefits and techniques
Bicycling your baby’s legs in a circular motion can help to move the intestines and release gas trapped.7 With your baby lying on their back, take their legs in your hands and cycle them slowly back and forth as if they were riding on a bike. Take a break every now and then to press both of baby’s knees gently into their own tummy for some extra pressure.
Read more: How Do I help My Breastfed Baby with Diarrhea and Constipation?
Simethicone breaks down bubbles of gas trapped in the stomach and intestines. It is not absorbed by the body and therefore considered to be safe for babies (but still check with your baby’s doctor before starting any kind of medicine or supplement for gas).7
In clinical trials, simethicone drops have not been found to be very effective, but many companies offer money back should you want to give these drops a shot with your little one.7, 22, 24
For most babies, the number one most effective treatment for gas is time. Remember that babies are likely to be gassy no matter what because their digestive system is still immature. If you cannot find an apparent cause for your baby’s gassiness, they probably just need a little more time to mature.
We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.
Our Happy Baby Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitians certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too, which means they’ve been there and seen that. They’re here to help on our free, live chat platform Monday -Friday 8am-8pm (EST), and Saturday – Sunday 8am-4pm (EST). Chat Now!
Read more about the experts that help write our content.
Top Latching Tips
Managing colic in babies
Is your baby reacting to something in your milk?
Tips for Bottle Fed baby gas
How can I relieve constipation for my baby and toddler?
1. Sferra TJ, Heitlinger LA. Gastrointestinal gas formation and infantile colic. Pediatr Clin North Am. 1996 Apr;43(2):489-510. doi: 10.1016/s0031-3955(05)70417-x. PMID: 8614612. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8614612/
2. Mayo Clinic. Spitting up in babies: What’s normal, what’s not. Accessed 27 August 2021. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/healthy-baby/art-20044329
3. Kelly Bonyata. My Baby is Gassy. Is this caused by something in my diet? Accessed 27 August 2021. https://kellymom.com/parenting/parenting-faq/gassybaby/
4. American Academy of Pediatrics. Infant Allergies and Food Sensitivities. Accessed 27 August 2021. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/breastfeeding/Pages/Infant-Allergies-and-Food-Sensitivities.aspx
5. American Academy of Family Physicians. Spitting Up in Babies. Accessed 27 August 2021. https://familydoctor.org/spitting-up-in-babies/?adfree=true
6. Mayo Clinic. Gas and Gas Pains. Accessed 23 August 2021. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gas-and-gas-pains/symptoms-causes/syc-20372709
7. American Academy of Pediatrics. Breaking up Gas. Accessed 25 August 2021. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/diapers-clothing/Pages/Breaking-Up-Gas.aspx
8. Baby Basics: How to burp your baby. Accessed 30 August 2021. https://www.unicef.org/parenting/child-care/how-to-burp-baby
9. American Academy of Family Physicians. Breastfeeding: Hints to Help You Get Off to a Good Start. https://familydoctor.org/breastfeeding-hints-to-help-you-get-off-to-a-good-start/
10. Kelly Bonyata. Forceful Let-down (Milk Ejection Reflex) & Oversupply. https://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/supply-worries/fast-letdown/
11. Infant and Young Child Feeding: Model Chapter for Textbooks for Medical Students and Allied Health Professionals. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2009. SESSION 2, The physiological basis of breastfeeding. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK148970/
12. Wamback, K. Riordan, J. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation. Fifth Edition. Jones & Bartlett Learning. 2016
13. American Academy of Family Physicians. Breastfeeding: Common Questions and Answers. Accessed 30 August 2021. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2018/0915/p368.html
14. Cleveland Clinic. Tongue-Tie (Ankyloglossia). Accessed 30 August 2021. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17931-tongue-tie-ankyloglossia
15. Oklahoma State Department of Health. Child Guidance Services. Calming a Crying Baby. Accessed 13 July 2021. https://www.ok.gov/health2/documents/cgs.pub.CryingBaby.pdf
17. MedlinePlus.gov. Baby Burping Position. Accessed 25 August 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/imagepages/19651.htm
18. Jung WJ, Yang HJ, Min TK, et al. The efficacy of the upright position on gastro-esophageal reflux and reflux-related respiratory symptoms in infants with chronic respiratory symptoms. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2012;4(1):17-23. doi:10.4168/aair.2012.4.1.17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3242055/
19. Advocate Aurora Healthcare. Infant Massage Technique. Accessed 13 July 2021. https://ahc.aurorahealthcare.org/fywb/x08128.pdf
20. American Academy of Pediatrics. Food Allergies and Sensitivities. Accessed 26 August 2021. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/breastfeeding/Pages/Infant-Allergies-and-Food-Sensitivities.aspx
21. Kidd M, Hnatiuk M, Barber J, Woolgar MJ, Mackay MP. “Something is wrong with your milk”: Qualitative study of maternal dietary restriction and beliefs about infant colic. Can Fam Physician. 2019;65(3):204-211 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6515974/
22. Metcalf TJ, Irons TG, Sher LD, Young PC. Simethicone in the treatment of infant colic: a randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial. Pediatrics. 1994 Jul;94(1):29-34. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8008533/
23. Van Veldhuizen-Staas CG. Overabundant milk supply: an alternative way to intervene by full drainage and block feeding. Int Breastfeed J. 2007;2:11. Published 2007 Aug 29. doi:10.1186/1746-4358-2-11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2075483/
24. Biagioli E, Tarasco V, Lingua C, Moja L, Savino F. Pain-relieving agents for infantile colic. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, Issue 9. https://www.cochrane.org/CD009999/BEHAV_pain-relieving-agents-infantile-colic
25. Infant and Young Child Feeding: Model Chapter for Textbooks for Medical Students and Allied Health Professionals. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2009. SESSION 7, Management of breast conditions and other breastfeeding difficulties. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK148955/
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