Flatulence in babies, as cute as it may be when they sound like a tiny trumpet, can actually be very uncomfortable for them.
However, what to us may appear to be excessive wind in infants, may actually not be the case. Gassiness is very common in most babies under six months old, as their digestive system is immature. It is basically learning how to function.
A common misconception is that breastfed babies are not troubled as much by gas buildup in comparison to babies who are bottle fed. This is untrue.
If your baby is displaying signs of trapped wind or is farting a lot more than usual, fear not. Here we will cover what you can do to help, without necessarily taking a trip to the pediatrician’s office.
What Are the Causes of Wind in Babies?
Gas is produced when babies digest the nutrients in formula or breastmilk. Generally, the body gets rid of it without causing too much trouble. Gas is a buoyant substance, however, and can therefore cause pressure directed against normal gastric flow.
Just like in adults, there are triggers which can cause gas buildup for babies.
- Feeding too quickly—gulping from a bottle teat if the flow is too fast, or if the mom has a super strong flow while breastfeeding.
- Feeding too slowly—this can also be a catalyst, as extra air can be sucked in.
- Excessive crying—swallowing air while crying will put excess air into your baby’s system.
- Drinking formula that has been shaken too much—when mixing powdered milk, air is shaken up within it. You can physically see the bubbles when you finish shaking the bottle.
- Protein intolerance—this can be lactose in formula, for example, or even something in your diet if you are breastfeeding. Garlic, onions and spices are known culprits for gassiness. Not to mention they can flavor your breast milk too!
What Are the Signs of Gut Discomfort?
A baby’s gastrointestinal tract is exactly the same as ours, just on a much smaller scale. It is, however, not as functionally efficient yet, given that their intake is milk based until the introduction to solids.
As adults, excess wind can be painful, but usually it’s nothing a trip to Walmart for some Gas-X won’t solve. Spotting the tell-tale signs of trapped wind in your baby will help you figure out how to manage and prevent it.
You may have noticed they are farting much more (if you breastfeed) after you have eaten certain foods. This could be a sign that their little digestive systems are upset.
Signs of tummy discomfort are:
- A red face—this is generally with straining to try and let out any gas or poop to relieve pressure.
- Squirming around as though unable to get comfortable.
- General restlessness.
- Firm stomach/bloating.
- Crying a lot.
- Pulling their legs up to their stomach, or curling up.
- Straightening out stiff, with an arched back.
What Can I Do to Help?
Your baby may fart a lot, but if it doesn’t bother them, there is no need to intervene. Obviously, if they are experiencing symptoms which are distressing them, you will, of course, want to help.
There are over-the-counter remedies, such as ‘gas drops’ and gripe water. Some parents may wish to try these; however, there is no actual evidence that either of them work effectively.
There are helpful home techniques which you can do yourself. They may seem simple, but they are efficient for soothing gas. Even if your baby isn’t suffering with gassiness, doing them routinely should keep gas buildup at bay.
- Ensure the nipple holes in your baby’s bottles have the correct flow for the baby’s age; this should lessen air intake considerably as it will reduce gulping.
- Allow any formula to settle into the bottle after vigorous shaking to mix—this will get rid of the extra air that is in the milk.
- Burping often while feeding.
- Stomach massage.
- Leg movements.
- Tummy time—placing your baby across your knee horizontally while supporting their head with one hand and rubbing their lower back with the other. This will put pressure on their stomach to release gas while soothing any pain with a rub.
A tip which also may help, is ensuring that your baby is in the optimal position while feeding. Not only do you want your baby to be comfortable, you don’t want them vomiting or getting painful gas.
The recommended position is for your baby’s head to be above, not level to, their waist. The reason for this is to aid the direction in which the milk is traveling down into the stomach. Supportive feeding pillows are available for both bottle and breastfeeding.
Do I Need to Call the Doctor?
It is very rare that medical attention is required for excessive flatulence. If symptoms are severe and long-lasting, it may be a sign of an illness that should be assessed by your physician.
If your baby isn’t passing gas, or giving you dirty diapers, that can be a cause for concern which needs checking out. Be mindful that constipation is a common problem in babies, particularly when you begin the weaning process from milk to solid food.
If your baby hasn’t passed wind or at least pooped in a few days, check with your doctor’s office as they might want to give them a check-up.
Unfortunately, whether bottle or breastfed, your baby will, at some point, get gas. A baby’s digestive system will take some time to develop. Their tiny tummies are delicate, and still learning how to work properly, meaning there will be disturbances from time to time.
Hopefully you now know how to try and provide some relief when they begin ripping out farts like a machine gun. If none of the tips we have offered here seem to help, and you feel like you have tried everything, do go and seek advice from your pharmacist or pediatrician.