For most babies, gas is not really a big deal. However, some fussy babies are very uncomfortable due to gas pains. Here are some of the top reasons gas in breastfed babies – and what you can do!
If you’ve ever worried about your baby’s gassiness – trust me, you aren’t alone. A baby’s gas problems are a common concern amongst breastfeeding mothers.
Whenever I do one of my Q&As on Instagram, there is always a handful of questions about the gassiness of their baby. It can be a bit distressing to see your baby squirming around in pain with clear gas lurking. You might even just find yourself shocked (maybe even impressed) by the loudness of the gas they pass or the burps they produce – it can often rival that of a grown adult!
If you find yourself wondering why your breastfed baby is gassy and if there’s anything you can do about it, you’re in the right place. Below, you’ll find some of the most common reasons for gas, some solutions, and an amazing resource for diving more into this topic to get to the bottom of your gassy baby’s problems.
Of course, please do not take any information in this post as medical advice.
- Is My Diet Causing My Baby to be Gassy?
- Causes of Gassy Baby
- Immature Digestive Systems
- Swallowing Air
- Not Enough Movement
- Empty Stomach
- Oral Restrictions
- Too much milk, too fast
- Lactose Overload
- Foods Other than Breast Milk
- Mom Having Digestive Issues
- Baby Massage
- Cycle those Legs
- Probiotics for Baby
- Probiotics for You
- Plenty of Tummy Time/Movement Time
- Elimination Diet
- Oral Restriction Release
- Limit the Containers
- Skip the Swaddling
- Gas Drops
- Try Different Positions
- Change Baby Bottles
- Additional Resources
- More Posts You Might Like:
Is My Diet Causing My Baby to be Gassy?
Whenever a baby is experiencing gas or any kind of discomfort, the first thing people jump to is what mom is eating.
Cruciferous vegetables, dairy products, beans, Brussel sprouts, and spicy foods are some of the most common foods that are blamed.
According to Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC;
The idea that certain foods in any mom’s diet will cause gas in her baby is incredibly persistent but is not founded in research. If certain foods in moms’ diets were an overall problem for most babies, we would expect that cultures that emphasize those foods would have more gassy and fussy babies, but this does not occur at all.Kelly Bonyata
Breast milk is made up of what is in your blood – not what’s in your digestive tract. Just because something is making YOU gassy doesn’t mean it is necessarily causing gas with your baby. There is not a list of foods you have to avoid just because you are breastfeeding.
Does that mean that what you consume (whether it be a certain food or a medication or supplement) ISN”T causing a problem? No. There may be situations that your baby is sensitive to something you are eating. For instance, the popular supplement, Fenugreek, may cause gas in your baby.
If you notice that your baby is really gassy, and it seems tied to a certain good, it might be a good idea to start a food diary to see if there is a true correlation or not. If your child is having other signs of a food allergy or intolerance, definitely work with a professional to do a proper food elimination diet. I see far too many moms drive themselves crazy trying to pinpoint a certain food that their baby is sensitive to, when, often, there isn’t actually a good causing the problem.
Causes of Gassy Baby
Immature Digestive Systems
Babies are born not completely developed in many ways – and a baby’s digestive system is not exempt from that. While this shouldn’t be used as an excuse to dismiss a parent’s concerns about digestive issues, it can sometimes be the reason. If your baby was premature, this may be even more of an issue.
Often we do see a resolution of certain digestive problems as a baby grows. Reflux and gas often peak around three months of age and then get better from there. Not always – but sometimes! It’s not uncommon for a baby to act more upset about gas as they get older, just because they start to recognize that it’s not a pleasant sensation.
Also, keep in mind that babies aren’t like adults. They don’t hide their gas or burps like an adult might. Passing gas is a normal bodily function – you just learn to cover it up a little bit more as you get older.
Swallowing excess air can definitely be a culprit of gas. We see this most frequently with bottle-fed babies. Be sure to check out this article about how to bottle feed a breastfed baby, as these tips and techniques can sometimes help mitigate air. Using a bottle that is specifically designed to prevent swallowed air can be helpful and feeding baby upright can help.
It’s a little trickier to swallow air while breastfeeding, but it’s not impossible. If a baby is crying a lot or constantly popping on and off, this can cause them to swallow some air while breastfeeding.
Not Enough Movement
Obviously, small babies can’t move a ton – but if they aren’t being given opportunities to wiggle around and move, they might get some trapped gas. This can happen when your baby is in a lot of “containers” like car seats or bouncers – or even being swaddled. However, some find that swaddling helps with gassiness and colicky babies, so maybe that’s a bit of a moot point.
An empty stomach can also lead to more gas pain in some babies; if your baby wakes up at night and has not had a chance to eat, this can contribute to gas pain. If your baby is having to go long periods without feeding, this could contribute to stomach pain.
Babies are often born with a lot of tension. They were just cramped up in the womb – while they are very flexible, it might cause some tension in their body, causing them to have more digestive issues.
If they spent a lot of time in the birth canal or had any type of birth trauma, that may have caused some tension, too.
Oral restrictions (tongue ties and lip ties) can cause many issues – since they can often affect the latch, this can lead to swallowing more air. They can cause gas and reflux.
Digestion begins with the mouth – if something is off there, it can cause issues in the rest of the digestive system.
Too much milk, too fast
If you have a forceful letdown – or your baby is getting a lot of milk from a fast flow nipple – that may lead to swallowing air. The fast flow of milk can also lead to your baby eating more than they really need. If they eat really fast, their brain may not process they are full, and as a result, they could have an upset stomach.
A lactose overload is sometimes referred to as a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance. This is something I try not to talk about too much, just because the vast majority of mothers have just the right amount of lactose in their milk and provide a great balance of foremilk and hindmilk. However, some babies may experience a lactose overload – which can lead to excessive gassiness, among other issues.
Most healthy babies can break down the lactose in normal volumes of milk. Fat slows down milk as it passes through your baby’s gut. If your baby has a lot of milk that is relatively low in fat, it can rush through his digestive system more quickly than the lactose can be digested. This can happen when a baby drinks a very large amount of breastmilk – either because the time between feeds is long, or because a mother has an oversupply of milk.
If you have long periods of time between when your baby is nursing or you have an oversupply, a lactose overload could be the culprit. Make sure to check out the article from LLL for more information. Some lactation consultants and professionals debate on this, but after having a child that we believe experienced this, I think it’s something that is worth noting.
Thrush has a lot of not-fun side-effects and one of them is gassiness. If you are noticing a sudden increase in gassiness and your and/or your baby have any signs of thrush, this may be the culprit.
Antibiotics by mom or baby can cause some stomach issues. Some antibiotics that you take may transfer through your breast milk – and while it’s generally considered safe to breastfeed while taking them, one of the side effects is gastric distress. Of course, if your baby is prescribed antibiotics, it can cause those issues, too.
Foods Other than Breast Milk
Breast milk is, by and large, pretty easy to digest for most babies. However, if your child is eating infant formula, juice, supplements or vitamins (a common one is Vitamin D) these can cause problems with the digestive system as well. It’s not uncommon for baby’s who are being introduced to solid food for the first time to experience some tummy issues during the transition.
Mom Having Digestive Issues
There is a lot connection between mom and baby. Sometimes if mom’s gut flora isn’t optimal, that could potentially lead toward baby’s. There isn’t a ton of research on this, but sometimes trying to heal your gut can lead to a positive impact on your baby.
So, now that you know about all the different potential causes of gas with your breastfed baby – I’m sure you want to know what to do next! While I can’t predict what the issue is for you, here are a few things to consider.
If the gassiness is sudden and new, I recommend taking a deep dive into the last week to see if you can pinpoint ANYTHING that has changed.
Ah, the passage of time. With a newborn, it seems to be a neverending time – but things often will improve with time. It seems that many tummy issues that are related to digestion get better after three months. Not always – but if you just feel like nothing is working, sometimes it’s just time.
Infant massage is an amazing technique for helping soothe those tummy issues your baby might be having. A simple massage technique is simply drawing “I Love You” on your baby’s belly gently with your finger. You can also massage in a clockwise direction on your baby’s stomach. There are infant massage classes or therapists you can go to, or you can check out even more ideas on YouTube.
Cycle those Legs
This is another simple technique but it can help get gas moving. Simply move your baby’s legs gently as if they were pedaling a bike can help. You can also move your baby’s legs around and around.
I am a HUGE believer in the power of pediatric chiropractors. I have seen chiropractors work miracles in my life and for my children and others. I know when you think of chiropractic care, it might feel scary – are they going to crack my baby or hurt them?!
But someone is qualified and trained uses VERY gentle pressure. Here is a great article about how chiropractic can help with breastfeeding.
Here is a reel that you can watch that shows how an infant chiropractic session can go:
It is important to go to one that specializes in infants. But I think all babies AND mamas should get adjusted after birth – especially if there are any gas issues. Just having something slightly out of alignment can cause problems.
Probiotics for Baby
Probiotics are newer in the baby world, but they can make a big difference in helping with babies. However, I do recommend starting out slowly with the dosage. With any probiotics, it can take time for your baby to get used to it – and they may make issues worse. Starting with a 1/4 or 1/2 dose may be a better starting point to ease your baby into it.
Make sure it is a quality probiotic. I’m not really a fan of the probiotic drops you can buy off the shelf at Target. You should look for the ingredient B. infantis as one of the strains. Here is some super interesting information and research about how B. infantis can decrease the inflammation of the intestine in infants.
I personally have used and like the Love Bug brand of probiotic. They have an infant line, and I felt like it worked really well. You can mix it with breast milk or in with food (if your baby is older) and you can easily cut the dosage in half. I think it is affordable, too. They have a version for 0-6 months and 6-12 months, so make sure you get the one that is appropriate for your baby.
Some other popular brands are:
- Evivo – I have heard different things about this brand. Some love it, some find it to be too intense for their baby. I think it’s one that you definitely want to ease into. They are also a bit expensive. You can save $10 off through our coupon code AN-10-00015.
- Mary Ruth’s Probiotic Drops are highly rated and convenient because they are in drop form
Definitely talk with your doctor as well before starting a new regimen.
Probiotics for You
Consider taking a probiotic for yourself. I have taken a lot of probiotics over the years and worked with a lot of GI professionals, and I will tell you, they are not all made the same. I have taken some that I tolerate really well and others that make me feel horribly sick (which is apparently part of the die off process that gets better with time). There are a lot of different strands, and since adults tend to have more complex digestive systems after a lifetime of food, exposure to medications, etc., it can be harder to figure out what you need.
I’m definitely not an expert, so make sure you work with a one to come up with the best probiotic for you. One brand that is a really great quality is Silver Fern. I have taken it and felt that it was pretty intense, but when I cut down the dosage to start with, it helped (which is also what they recommend). You can get 10% off with the code TBM.
Here is some information on how to pick a probiotic from Cleveland Clinic.
Plenty of Tummy Time/Movement Time
Make sure your baby has plenty of time to move around! Movement really can help your bowels move – even as adults! Your baby may not love tummy time but you should make it a priority. Obviously, if you have a newborn baby, their mobility will be limited – but find any opportunity you can to give them unrestrained movement time.
Babywearing has SO many benefits – and one of them could be helping with gas. I have personally had a lot of success with babywearing helping my gassy babies. Just make sure you do it safely!
Food sometimes is the culprit. You can start by doing a food diary to see if you can see any clear coorletion, but I do recommend working with a trained professional. I LOVE Free to Feed – she has so many amazing resources for food sensitivities and allergies while breastfeeding.
If you do find that cow’s milk is the issue, you might appreciate this post – The Ultimate Guide to Dairy-Free Breastfeeding (From a Dairy-Free Mom).
Oral Restriction Release
If your child has a tongue or lip tie, the solution may be getting a release done. This can feel stressful or overwhelming, but with the right support, it can make a world of difference. Work with a qualified professional to assess oral restrictions and come up with a plan moving forward. After care is also super important, so make sure you read this article, too – Tongue Tie Post Revision Care: Tips for Success + Printables
Limit the Containers
Listen – I love the swing just as much as the next mama, but if your baby is spending all their days in a swing, stroller, or car seat – transition them to something else where they can move around more freely!
Skip the Swaddling
I’ll admit, I love swaddling. My baby’s love swaddling. They struggle to sleep not being swaddled – but sometimes, being so tightly swaddled can make it hard for your baby to move gas through. But, as I mentioned earlier, some find that it can help with colicky babies and gas, so you might have to experiment with this.
If you find the swaddling makes things worse, there are sleep sacks – such as from Nested Bean or Dreamland Sleep – which are somewhat weighted but allow your baby to have more movement. We personally have had amazing success with the Dreamland weighted sleep sack – you can check out my full review here.
Some doctors recommend simethicone drops (such as Mylicon) to help break up the bubbles; others suggest switching formulas or using different burping techniques. However, unless there is a case of excessive gas, this will not be necessary.
Be careful with using too much or using other remedies like Gripe Water. Gripe Water has been used for a long time, though it’s never been really proven to work in a clinical study. This study showed that it might actually increase vomiting or constipation, so just be careful.
Try Different Positions
If you’re breastfeeding, try different feeding positions; side-lying or laid-back nursing can reduce the amount of air that gets into your baby while he eats.
Change Baby Bottles
Try different kinds of bottles and nipples if your baby is drinking milk from a bottle. The shape of the nipple can affect how much air gets into your baby as he feeds, so using a wider “breast-shaped” bottle nipple may help reduce gas pain. Here is a list of the best bottles for breastfed babies.
This is not meant to be an all-inclusive post or a replacement for working with a professional on your baby’s individual needs and problems. You should work with someone
Allegra Gast is an amazing resource on infant gas and helping babies get more comfortable. She put together this great workshop for just $25. I haven’t watched it, but I work with Allegra as my lactation mentor, and she knows her stuff. I know it has gotten rave reviews. So if you want to dive into this topic even more, consider signing up.
For those who may not have access to physical therapy or chiropractic care – or who just want some guidance for optimal physical development for your baby, this is an amazing course. You will learn:
- how our current work environment is affecting positioning in the womb
- what the cranial nerves in the head are and how they impact the activities of daily living
- what to do when the cranial nerves are pinched
- how tongue ties can create tension patterns on the body
- How to position and move your baby to unwind any unwanted tension patterns
- why starting early yields better results
If you are interested in diving deeper, I am happy to do a virtual consult with you – you can check out my services here.
Tongue Tie Facebook Groups
One of the best ways to get in touch with not just great tongue tie providers but really good chiropractors and cranial sacral therapists is to join a tongue tie Facebook group. These can be gold mines of information! We put together a list of ones for the United States here.
I hope that this post was helpful! As always, please work with your own care providers to come up with the best plan for you and your baby.
More Posts You Might Like:
- High Lipase Breast Milk: Why Your Breast Milk Tastes Gross (and What You Can Do)
- 6 Elastic Nipple Solutions for More Comfortable Pumping
- Top Signs of Low Milk Supply to Worry About
- 8 Breastfeeding Problems After a C-Section (And What You Can Do!)
Katie Clark is a Certified Lactation Educator, Certified Breastfeeding Specialist, and IBCLC student. She has helped thousands of mothers and families around the globe navigate breastfeeding challenges and questions since 2015. She has a passion for creating research-based, helpful breastfeeding education and helping parents find a way to make breastfeeding work for them. Katie is a mom of three little boys and lives in the great state of Colorado. She also has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in print journalism.