When your baby is fussy or crying uncontrollably, it can leave you feeling at a loss. You’ve tried soothing them, singing to them, but nothing seems to work.
There are many potential reasons for your baby’s discomfort, but gas is one of the most common, caused by swallowing air when they’re crying, feeding, or sucking on their pacifier.
Here are 5 tips to help ease their pain and discomfort:
- Burping: Hold your baby upright and gently pat on their back, keeping your hand cupped. Or you can try sitting with your newborn and gently rocking them. Either way, burping your baby both after and during feeding can help them release gas or prevent gas from building up.
- Massaging: Gently massage your baby’s belly and pump their legs back and forth (as if they’re riding a bike) while they are on their back. Always support your baby's head and make sure it’s at a higher level than their chest.
- Bathing: Bathing your baby in warm water can help relax their bodies and release gas more easily.
- Changing equipment: If you bottle-feed your baby, try switching to a slower flow nipple. That way, your baby will not ingest as much air while sucking at the nipple.
- Changing positions: Try tipping the bottle up so that there are no air bubbles in the nipple. You can use a nursing pillow for support and make sure your baby is properly positioned. A good position helps with proper latching so that your baby swallows less air when they feed.
Is your baby’s formula giving them gas?
Before rushing to a pharmacy or calling your doctor in a panic, here are some preventive measures you can take to prevent your baby from getting gassy:
- Check the formula. Are you making it as directed? Is the formula past its expiration date? Are you mixing two different formulas? Sometimes, your baby may develop gas if you mix two types of baby formulas, but their tummy discomfort will usually settle on its own in a few days.
- Did your baby start getting gassy since you switched to a new brand of formula? Your baby may be allergic to the new brand or maybe their gut is getting used to the new formula. Try discontinuing the new formula and see if it helps.
- Feed your baby before they start crying. Often babies cry when they are hungry, and swallow air when crying. If you feed them before they get hungry enough to start crying, they may swallow less air and not get gassy.
- Avoid giving them a pacifier.
Which medications can you safely give your newborn for gas?
Over-the-counter gas drops given to a baby for gases contain simethicone, a medicine designed to relieve excess gas in the stomach and intestines. Simethicone is generally a safe medication for most babies.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it in 1952. Simethicone may cause loose stools in some babies. A typical dose for simethicone is 20 milligrams, up to 4 times a day. The FDA advises against using gripe water for treating colic or flatulence in babies.
When should you see a doctor about your baby’s gas?
In 8 out of 10 cases, your baby will get better with time. Gas is common among newborns and usually gets better over time as their digestive tract grows. However, if you see the following signs, you may want to call your pediatrician:
- You notice that your baby isn’t gaining weight.
- Your baby cries uncontrollably every day.
- Your baby hasn’t passed stools or has regular episodes of constipation.
- Your baby refuses to feed.
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