If he’s been arching his back, tooting, and crying sporadically, your little one may have a common case of baby gas. It’s no fun, but thankfully, there are remedies to ease his discomfort.
What causes baby gas?
First things first: Baby gas is fairly common, and can plague even otherwise healthy infants. Part of the problem is that babies swallow air from things like crying, or sucking, which can cause gas, says Lawrence Hoberman, M.D., a San Antonio gastroenterologist and founder of EndoMune Advanced Probiotics for Kids.
Baby gas can also be caused by a lack of good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, which results in digestion problems. That can happen after a round of antibiotics, or from having a C-section, which limits your baby’s exposure to lactobacillus, the digestion-friendly bacteria that resides in the vaginal canal.
How is baby gas different from colic?
How do you know baby gas isn’t actually colic? While baby colic is linked to digestive issues and baby gas, the difference is frequency, says Hoberman. If your baby cries for more than three hours at a time for more than three days and doesn’t respond to common baby gas remedies (more on those below), colic is likely the culprit.
How to relieve baby gas?
Pick the right foods
While introducing solid baby food, be on the lookout for foods that can aggravate baby gas. If your little one doesn’t have enough good bacteria in his gut, he might have a hard time digesting high-fructose fruits or starchy vegetables—like apples, pears, yams, and carrots, says Hoberman. Instead, opt for fruits that are lower in fructose, like apricots, bananas and peaches; or less-starchy vegetables like baby corn, squash, and spinach.
Among the many breastfeeding benefits is that the proteins in breast milk are easier for your baby to digest compared to the proteins in formula, helping to minimize baby gas. Take it a step further by avoiding potentially gas-producing foods in your own diet, like dairy products containing lactose, Hoberman says. If you feed your baby formula, pick one that’ll be gentle on his tummy.
Another thing: Bottle-feeding—whether breast milk or formula—can lead your baby to drink faster and swallow more than air than she would while breastfeeding. By using a bottle that mimics breastfeeding actions, you’ll eliminate those problems and could reduce baby gas.
Use a probiotic
Baby gas is sometimes caused by too few digestion-aiding bacteria in the gut, which can sometimes result after a C-section or bout of antibiotics. But a probiotic supplement can help boost good bacteria and encourage healthy development in your baby’s intestinal tract, Hoberman says. In fact, a daily dose of probiotic powder mixed into your baby’s food could help relieve baby gas in just 3 to 10 days (always check with your doctor before giving your baby a new supplement).