Relief for the Gassy Baby

Swallowing air, passing gas, and fart jokes are a normal part of growing up. But excessive intestinal gas can make a young baby miserable. How can you get the air out of that little tummy and make baby smile again? The goal is to let less air in, and get more air out:

Letting Less Air In…

Breast-fed babies:

  • Be sure baby’s lips form a good seal far back on the areola.
  • Eliminate fuss foods from your diet if breastfeeding (see elimination diet).
  • Feed baby smaller volumes more frequently
  • Keep baby upright (at about a forty-five-degree angle) during and for a half-hour after a feeding.

Bottle-fed babies:

  • Be sure baby’s lips are positioned on the wide base of the nipple, not just on the tip.
  • Tilt the bottle at a thirty-to-forty-degree angle while feeding so that air rises to the bottom of the bottle; or try collapsible formula bags.
  • Feed baby smaller volumes more frequently
  • Keep baby upright (at about a forty-five-degree angle) during and for a half-hour after a feeding.
  • Avoid prolonged sucking on pacifiers or empty bottle nipples.

…Getting More Air Out

  • Respond promptly to a baby’s cries.
  • Be sure to burp baby during and after feedings.
  • The gas pump. Lay baby face-up on your lap with her legs toward you and her head resting on your knees. Pump her legs up and down in a bicycling motion while making a few attention-getting facial expressions.
  • The colic curl. Place baby’s head and back against your chest and encircle your arms under his bottom, then curl your arms up. Or, try reversing this position by placing baby’s feet against your chest as you hold him. This way you can maintain eye contact with your baby and entertain him with funny facial expressions. (Read more about colic here.)
  • Tummy rolls. While laying a securing hand on baby’s back, drape him tummy-down over a large beach ball and gently roll in a circular motion. Another use for a large beach ball (you can purchase “physio balls” from infant-product catalogs) is the baby bounce. Hold baby securely in your arms and slowly bounce up and down while sitting on the ball.
  • Tummy massage. Sit baby on your lap and place the palm of your hand over baby’s navel, and let your fingers and thumb encircle baby’s abdomen. Let baby lean forward, pressing her tense abdomen against your warm hand. Dad’s bigger hands provide more coverage. Or, with baby lying on her back, picture an upside down “U” over the surface of your baby’s abdomen and using warm massage oil on your hands and kneading baby’s abdomen in a circular motion with your flattened fingers, massage from left to right along the lines of the imaginary “U.”
  • Tummy tucks. Place a rolled-up cloth diaper or a warm (not hot) water bottle enclosed in a cloth diaper under baby’s tummy. To further relax a tense tummy, lay baby stomach-down on a cushion with her legs dangling over the edge while rubbing her back. Turn her head to the side so her breathing isn’t obstructed.
  • Give baby simethicone drops (Mylicon is a brand name) or glycerin suppositories.

Read more about gassy, fussy, and colicky babies here!

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