How to Relieve Baby Gas to Improve Sleep

Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD

Baby gas is a real sleep spoiler. Luckily a gassy infant is not ill and a few simple techniques will turn many sleepless nights into restful ones.

Avoiding wind will also make you and your little one feel happier and more relaxed.
NEW! Free download of "How to relieve gas", an excerpt from Heidi's best selling Overcome Frequent Waking.

What is baby gas?

In the first months, the digestive system is in full development. It's immature and undergoes a lot of changes until the age of 6 months old.

Milk that's not easily digested and the intake of extra air while feeding are the main causes of baby wind.

They can tickle the intestines, and the air bubbles are just floating around and result in discomfort. Trapped wind is one of the noted causes of colic in infants.

Apart from smelly winds, the symptoms of baby gas are:

  • Cries as if in pain
  • Moans, groans, squirms, typically within an hour after feeding
  • Cries, eyes closed, cramping up her tummy, stamping feet around, and wriggling uncomfortably

How to avoid & relieve baby gas

  • Burping Always burp after feeding, whether breastfeeding or formula feeding. Burp her several times during one feed by introducing brief interruptions.

    If your little one doesn't burp easily, don't be afraid to put her high on your shoulder (facing opposite to you) with a confident swift movement (but not too rough either).
  • Breastfeed if you can. Breastfed babies have less wind issues and less colic overall.

    Baby Breastfeeding



    Your milk is more easily digested than formula and is less intrusive on the immature bowels.

    If your child becomes gassy in spite of breastfeeding:

    • Try to avoid restless nursing.

      If your baby is very eager, or you have a lot of milk coming out quickly, she may gasp in a lot of air while feeding. And this will easily cause wind.

      To reduce a too high milk supply start with offering one breast only. Have her empty it completely and offer the second breast only if you cannot avoid it. Ask me for further support if you suspect a too high milk supply.
    • Avoid crampy foods such as cabbage, sprouts, beans, etc.

      Some moms notice an improvement when they drink fennel tea themselves.
    • If it persists: consider going dairy-free for a full two weeks. This includes yogurt, cheese, milk and bread or cookies that contain any dairy or related ingredients.

      If this relieves then keep this up until she's 4 months old and then gently re-introduce. Do ensure that your own diet remains complete and healthy, it's always best to consult a professional nutritionist.
  • When formula feeding your main goal is to prevent air from going in along with the formula:

    • Use a correct size bottle nipple/teat with holes that are not too large.
    • Use a well-designed bottle that does not let in air. Dr. Brown's Natural Flow Bottles have been recommended by mom visitors to this site.
    • When preparing the formula: shake it in one bottle, then transfer into another one which you'll use for the feed. Shaking in the feeding bottle keeps more air bubbles trapped, which you want to avoid.
    • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to find a formula brand that suits your child better - a lighter one can help relieve.
  • When your little one is cries or feels uncomfortable:

    • Give a warm relaxing bath - but only if but likes baths.
    • Lie her on her back in front of you - safely on the carpet or a mattress on the floor, a large bed, ... Gently hold her feet up in the air to help the wind escape.
    • Massage her belly: place her safely on her back in front of you. Make sure she's warm, and your hands are warm too.

      Slowly and gently rub the tummy with your full hand: make clockwise spirals starting around the belly button and moving out and downwards.

      Combine this with the above (bath and feet up) for best results.
  • Gas drops or gripe water are an extra something you can try, although parent opinions vary greatly.

    Little Tummy's Gripe Water is an all-natural product that out-rates its more expensive colleagues.
Or would it be ...?

Teething

A cold

A dirty diaper

Reflux

As much as your little one seems helpless and seems to be suffering, try not to worry too much about gas.

Try the homemade remedies for baby gas as above, as much as possible. Give every try at least a good week to see if things improve, they take some time.

Soothe and comfort your child in every way, without holding back, because it is simply the best way to make her feel better.

And then, try to relax. From around 3 or 4 months old, things will improve.

Ask me for support if it's all becoming too much.