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Recognizing When Your Baby Has Gas

By Pat Scheans, DNP, NNP-BC

Recognizing When Your Baby Has Gas

Men love this fact: it’s normal for babies to pass gas 12 or more times a day!

In fact, babies are quite gassy. Gas happens when air gets trapped in baby’s tummy or gut. In turn, baby fusses, seems to be in pain, and arches his back or pulls his legs up to move the gas along.

As long as your baby fusses only a moment or two with gas, everything is fine. As he grows, he’ll get better at passing gas.

Managing Gas

Babies swallow air when they suck and when they cry—here’s how you can help:

  • Hold baby skin-to-skin when he’s crying. Crying babies like this, as well as being swaddled, or held close and walked.
  • Let baby suck his fingers or a pacifier – this is soothing
  • Feed baby with his head higher than his tummy so that air floats to the top and is easier to burp
  • Burp your baby frequently. Since babies can’t sit upright or walk around to expel gas like adults. Pat them on the back gently in more than one position: Over the shoulder, sitting up, laying across your knees. Massage or a warm bath might also help.
  • Bicycle baby’s legs to move gas out

Feed to Prevent Gas

Let baby empty your breast before switching to the other when nursing. Your foremilk (the milk that comes out first) has more milk sugar and your hindmilk has more fat. Too much milk sugar can cause gas and green, foamy stools. Be sure baby drinks until your breast feels empty to ensure he gets both kinds of milk before offering the other breast.

While foods that give you gas don’t necessarily give baby gas (like beans!), you may want to determine whether dairy products bother your baby. Cow’s milk protein can pass into your milk, and it makes some babies gassy.

Skip Gas Relief Products

You will see products that claim to help with gas, but there’s no research to say they work. Talk to your baby’s healthcare provider before using gas drops or what’s called “gripe water” (herbs and water).

Pat Scheans, MSN, NNP, is an expert advisor to Healthy Mom&Baby with Legacy Health System in Portland, OR.


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