The Cause and Treatment of Infant, Newborn and Baby Gas Problems
All babies have gas; some babies simply have more than others. Furthermore, some babies have an easier time passing gas, which may stem from a learned or innate ability. While a certain amount of gassiness is completely normal, it may be causing your baby discomfort, if you notice tell-tale symptoms, such as abdominal bloating, hard distended belly, frequent burping, spit-ups, hiccups, flatulence and excessive fussiness or restlessness.
Gas in a newborn or infant can be due to several factors, not just one simple thing, since there are different ways that gas can get into babies’ digestive systems. Gas is produced in the digestive tract from the moment baby has his or her first drink of breast milk or formula. Newborn gas is a natural by-product of digesting lactose, proteins and other nutrients.
- Some pediatricians and lactation specialists assert that traces of gas-producing foods, such as cruciferous vegetables and legumes, can be passed from mother to baby. Other experts also warn against excessive acidity in the maternal diet. Citrus fruits and juices, strawberries and tomatoes are high in acidity and may irritate the infant. Dairy products in mother’s diet can also lead to “intolerances” in baby. The problem is usually linked to the milk protein found in milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream, etc. Soy and peanut intolerance in babies often accompany dairy intolerance. When breast-feeding, a mother can test how these common culprits may be affecting her child by religiously eliminating all dairy, soy and peanut products from her own diet for two weeks. Reintroduction of soy first, then a cooked milk product (such as hard cheese or yogurt) should be done very slowly to monitor baby’s tolerances.
- Air bubbles can also be taken in through baby’s mouth. Most commonly, it is a result of the suction created during nursing. For this reason, it is important to burp every 3 to 5 minutes during feedings or between breasts. If your baby is bottle-fed, make certain that the bottle’s nipple is the right size. If the nipple is too big, it will cause your baby to eat too fast. If it’s too small, it will cause your baby to gulp air.
- Another possible reason for infant gassiness is hyper-lactation syndrome. When a mother has a very abundant milk supply, she may produce a larger amount of foremilk. Foremilk is higher in water content, higher in lactose and usually delivered with greater force during letdown. In excess, foremilk can make baby’s stomach cramp, creating more fussiness. A baby that gulps the quickly flowing milk also tends to take in more air, thereby getting gassier. Because the baby may not be getting enough of the rich hind milk, he or she tends to want to eat more often, which perpetuates the problem. The baby that suffers from hyper-lactation syndrome is characterized by higher than normal weight gain, increased gassiness, and fussiness.
- Over-stimulation can also lead to increased gassiness. Just as many adults experience intestinal disturbances in stressful situations, so are babies affected by their environments. Sensitive infants that are bombarded with noise, lights, touch and multiple experiences will usually “shut down” in an attempt to reduce stimulation. This shut-down response does not completely insulate baby from the effects of the stimulation. Babies that are easily overloaded often experience more severe gas, fussiness, and difficulty sleeping later in the day or night. In general, the more activity (errands, visitors, television, phones, etc.) in baby’s day, the higher the chances of gassiness and fussiness in baby’s evening and night.
- The introduction of solid foods in older babies creates changes that may take baby some time getting used to, since different enzymes and probiotics must build up to digest and absorb nutrients. Furthermore, foods that are commonly known to produce gas, such as cruciferous vegetables, certain fruits and beans have the same effect in babies as they do in adults.
- A certain amount of crying is normal in all infants, since it is their only means of verbal communication. Babies’ crying may indicate that they are hungry, lonely, warm, cold, uncomfortable or in need of a diaper change. Many babies go through periods of crying for no apparent reason, as they simply get used to the new world. Crying in general causes babies to gulp air into their digestive systems. These air bubbles can get trapped in their stomach and/or passed on to the intestine. Gas pain can also be a direct result of air swallowed during crying.
Normally, gas is not a problem and causes no pain or discomfort because it is quickly and easily pushed through the digestive system. However, babies are born with a very immature gut. Most experts agree that for the first thirteen weeks of life outside the womb, the newborn digestive system is literally just learning to function. Muscles that support digestion have not developed the proper rhythm (peristalsis) for moving food efficiently thought the digestive tract. Furthermore, newborns lack the benevolent bacterial flora (probiotics) that develop over time to aid digestion and complement the work performed by enzymes secreted in the digestive tract.
Gas has buoyancy and gas pockets can become trapped in the upper and lower intestines. The gas acts like a cork, impeding or halting the flow of gastric juices, and built-up pressure causes painful bloating and swelling of the abdomen. Baby’s immature digestive system is unable to cope effectively. When gas pockets form in the stomach, it can cause the stomach to distend, and it is also the main cause of hiccups.
Some medical researchers assert that infant gas and colic are unrelated; but we don’t agree with this theory. In our experience of helping hundreds of thousands with infant colic, gas and reflux, these are usually manifestations of one simple thing. A baby’s immature digestive system, and persistently reoccurring trapped gas can most definitely be a source of colic.
What treatment is available for baby’s gas problems?
Burping the baby thoroughly will reduce the amount of air in the stomach, so that it does not pass on to the intestinal tract. Unfortunately, burping is not 100% effective at eliminating gas, since it has absolutely no effect on the gas created in the intestines during normal digestion. There are various physical therapies to relieve gas, such as baby massage, which may prove somewhat effective in helping baby to release gas. Simply applying light pressure on the tummy can soothe and help. You can also try carrying baby in the “football hold” – face down on your forearm with baby’s legs straddling your elbow and baby’s chin resting in your hand. The gentle pressure placed on the little tummy can help soothe and release baby’s gas.
If this does not work, there are several treatments available for infant gas. As always, you should consult your pediatrician first before giving baby any medications, remedies or supplements.
- Simethicone gas drops are sold under several brand names in drug stores. Simethicone is essentially a chemical anti-foaming agent that joins gas bubbles in the stomach on the theory that gas can be more easily burped away. However, if the larger clusters of bubbles are not burped up quickly enough, they pass into the lower digestive tract. Here, the larger gas bubble clusters can cause more painful distention and cramping. Simethicone admittedly has no effect on intestinal gas, which as many adults know, can cause the most intense pain. Since simethicone works by joining gas bubbles, it must be where the gas is, in order to work. As a result, simethicone is not an “as needed” medicine, but rather one that must be given in regular doses with every meal. If gas has been created other than by feeding, simethicone will have no effect after the gassiness appears. Also, simethicone will work only on gas near the top of the stomach and has no effect on intestinal gas.
- Sodium Bicarbonate (a.k.a. Baking Soda) is used in several gripe water brands that are sold as dietary supplements. Sodium bicarbonate is an alkali which counteracts the PH of stomach acid that is naturally created in the baby’s stomach. It can temporarily relieve some discomfort caused by acid reflux. Unfortunately, sodium bicarbonate is absorbed into the bloodstream and can have unwanted side effects. For this reason, sodium bicarbonate is not to be consumed by children under age five, as stated clearly on baking soda boxes. Even for adults, it should not be used for more than two weeks or for recurring conditions. According to some doctors, sodium bicarbonate can cause an imbalance in babies’ electrolytes, which can lead to serious problems.
- Essential Oils and Herbal Extracts (dill, fennel, etc.) are used by some gripe water brands and sold as dietary supplements. There are known safety issues with essential oils. Many experts believe they are not to be taken internally by adults, let alone infants. Please be well advised of all possible side effects before giving essential oils to your baby, no matter how small the concentrations.
- Homeopathic formulas can be an excellent choice for treating infant gas symptoms. Most homeopathic medicines are allergen-free and side-effect-free. There is only one liquid formula on the market. Colic Calm Gripe Water is available in major pharmacies, select health food stores, health practitioners’ offices and online. Colic Calm is very effective in treating infant gas and colic.Many parents and caretakers have been relieved to find a remedy with natural active ingredients. The unique homeopathic formula works within minutes, so it is only given on an “as needed” basis.Thousands of satisfied customers have also reported that Colic Calm works wonders for bloating, stomach cramps, teething pain and even hiccups. It is also extremely effective on gas created during introduction of new foods into babies’ delicate digestive tracts. Read more about how Colic Calm Gripe Water Treats Newborn, Infant and Baby Gas Problems.
See Colic Calm Stop Baby’s Gas Pains in Minutes
Approaching the problem of infant gas and fussiness as a multi-level problem is usually most effective. If the signs of hyper-lactation seem familiar, then contact a lactation specialist to help correct the problem. Avoiding the foods mentioned above for at least a few days may help indicate how much of a problem they cause baby. If gassiness and fussiness are excessive around the clock, a two-week trial elimination of dairy, soy and peanuts will show if mother’s diet is a contributing factor.
Recognizing the sensitive and over-stimulated baby is often the most difficult for parents. Keeping outings and visitors to a minimum for a few weeks may decrease the degree of gassiness and fussiness. Allowing the infant to have quiet and uninterrupted sleep helps prevent over-tiredness, increased irritability and unnecessary crying episodes.
Remember that babies are just getting accustomed to this world. As they grow older, most will become far less gassy and fussy. Their digestive tracts will learn how to function well. In the first three months of life, babies are not well-equipped to calm themselves. Self-calming is a skill that develops slowly over time and at different rates in children.
What Parents Are Saying
“Colic Calm is an absolute life-saver! I searched everywhere for a natural way to relieve my newborn, Keeliana, of her tummy troubles. She would take hours to burp, then would have cramps as it turned to gas. She could hardly sleep as she winced in her sleep. Now she burps and is able to sleep peacefully. Other gripe waters at health stores don’t even compare and are a complete waste of money. Any questions I had were answered promptly and delivery was fast. I just have to make sure I don’t run out!”
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“Colic Calm saved our sanity and helped make my baby a very happy boy!!! I heard about Colic Calm through a friend and thought I’d give it a try…since I’d tried everything else and my baby was still fussy and very uncomfortable with gas pains. Within a day of using the Colic Calm we noticed a huge improvement. We use it now 3 times a day and our baby is doing great. We really appreciated the fast, next day shipping. We’ve recommended Colic Calm to 3 other couples so far and will continue to do so.”
“I am extremely pleased with Colic Calm. It started working the first day that I gave it to my son. He still has gas, but it is under control now. I will never go back to using Mylicon or other gas drops like it. I am recommending Colic Calm to my friends and family for their babies. Thanks!”
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“Colic Calm is an amazing formula. Our son, whom for some reason seems to have unnatural gas most of the time, is always griping and complaining because of the pains that gas causes. We give him the Colic Calm formula and it seems to put him to ease, almost all the time. It has saved us countless number of hours of lack of sleep because Colic Calm was able to relax him to sleep. Thanks for your amazing formula.”
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“When our little one was a few weeks old she had terrible gas, and when we called the doctor they told us it was colic and that it could go away over night or it might last for months. After that phone call I got online with tears streaming down my face and started looking for natural and safe alternatives to alleviate my daughter’s pain. I found your product and was convinced by the testimonials of other parents. Thank God for you and this product it worked!!!! Our little one never had problems with gas again. Anytime we would see the signs that her tummy was bothering her would just gave her some. We believe in the product so much we are constantly telling anyone with little ones about it. My husband and I have used your product if we have a sour stomach and it help us too. So thank you for coming up with this product and I will continue to tell others about it.”
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“Blake is doing great, he will be one year old Wed the 18th. He is just very gassy, that Colic Calm helps so much. Thank you so much for inventing such a wonderful thing! I had my doubts at first, I am a firm believer now. I appreciate you getting back to me, usually when you buy online you really don’t know what your getting, let alone ever hear from anyone, so thank you. And again thanks for the colic calm.”
“I wanted to let you know how your product was working. Ryan is so much better since we have been giving him Colic Calm. We changed his formula to Enfamil Nutramigen which helped but he was still having problems with gas. When he is upset I give him a dose and he is immediately happy. Ryan also gets hiccups a lot and as soon as I give Colic Calm to him they go away. Thank you so much for such a great product…. I recommended it on the ivillage message boards!”
“Honestly, I have been telling every one I know about how wonderful Colic Calm is! I totally sound like a commercial! At 2 weeks, my poor daughter couldn’t sleep longer than 30 minutes without waking up screaming. The gas was so bad, you could feel her stomach rumbling! After cutting out just about everything from my diet (I am nursing), the gas was still awful. I found Colic Calm after searching the internet and was so impressed by your website; by how informative it was. I really felt that I was being educated, and you weren’t just trying to sell something to me. I went ahead and ordered it. I think the angels sang when the box arrived! Ha ha Colic calm worked within 5 minutes! I kept asking my husband if I was just imagining how quickly she calmed down, but he was convinced it was working too! AND my pediatrician was completely supportive which gave me some extra comfort!”
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“The Colic Calm I purchased from you has worked wonderfully for my son. Connor is 2 months old and he has had trouble having bowel movements since he was born and has had terrible gas. The doctors have kept changing his formula. I tried colic calm and got immediate results. He now does not have gas and has bowel movements regularly. He is a different child always smiling and laughing, he almost never cries anymore. Thanks so much.”
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“When my son was 3 weeks old he started having discomfort from gas. I purchased 5 different feeding bottles thinking that it may be part of the problem. Nothing seemed to help. That is when I began searching the internet, and found your product. Of course, I asked the doctor and he said there weren’t too many studies done with gripe water, so I should read the testimonials. I was skeptical but was willing to try anything. With the very first dose it worked! I was ecstatic with the results! I recommend this to my friends with children. Thank you for having wonderful service representatives that only add to the positive experience of your already fantastic product.”
- The Doctor’s Guide to Gastrointestinal Health – Paul Miskovitz, M.D., and Marian Betancourt
- Natural Baby and Childcare – Lauren Feder, M.D.
- Natural Stomach Care – Anil Minocha, M.D., and David Caroll
- What to Expect the First Year – Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi E. Murkoff, and Sandee E. Hathaway, B.S.N., with a Foreword by Henry Harris, M.D., F.A.A.P
- Healthy Digestion the Natural Way – D. Lindsey Berkson, with a Foreword by Jonathan Wright, M.D.
- Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals – Robert Tisserand and Tony Balacs
- Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child – Janet Zand, N.D., L.Ac., Robert Roundtree, M.D., Rachel Walton, MSN, CRNP