Babies are beautiful, sweet, endearing, miraculous little beings who enrich and delight our lives. This is a very good thing to remember during those times when we realize that babies are also little noise- and mess-making machines, and that we spend half our lives calming the noise and cleaning up the mess. Then there are those times when we actually want our children to be gross, for their health's sake. That's why it's useful to know the signs that a baby needs to fart, so that we can help them be as comfortable as possible.
There's no getting around it: Babies fart... a lot. It's normal for infants to pass gas anywhere from 13 to 21 times a day, according to Web MD. What makes them gassier than the average Mobil station? A major cause is the air that they gulp in when they feed, suck on pacifiers, and cry. A baby's developing digestive system also makes it difficult for them to process food and expel gas in the early months. The result: Air gets trapped in their tender tummies, and, as Shrek famously noted, "Better out than in, I always say!"
Most of the time, babies are pretty good at relieving themselves, as we can tell by the distinctive and oh-so-polite noise. But there are times when they have difficulty getting the gas out, and that can be mighty uncomfortable. Since an infant can't say, "Beg your pardon, Mom, but I've got a bit of a tummy ache and could use a little help," it's up to us to watch for telltale signs like these:
They Become Super Fussy
Babies fuss for many reasons, so it can be tricky to figure out exactly why your little one is grouching. But if you've ruled out other causes such as hunger or a soiled diaper, gas could definitely be the culprit, especially if your baby recently ate. Being overwhelmed by sensory stimuli such as lights, noises, or crowds can bring on gas, said BabyGaga, as a result of the baby's swallowing air when they cry.
They Squirm And Frown
It's common for very young babies to scrunch up their faces and grunt when they're pooping, according to Healthline. It looks like a lot of effort, but it's just their way of figuring out how to get the stuff out of their body, and typically it's not painful. With gas, however, the scowling and squirming is accompanied by prolonged fussing and crying.
Their Tummy Is Hard
If you suspect gas is the source of the discomfort, lay your baby face-up and press gently on the tummy. If the stomach feels firm (your fingers don't sink in), that's a pretty sure sign that there's air trapped inside, according to WebMD.
All that gas in that tiny body hurts — a lot. So your baby reacts in the only way they know how: by letting you know in no uncertain terms how uncomfortable they are. A gas-induced wail is more of a screech than the quavering cry of fatigue or the lower-pitched moan of hunger, explained Mom365.
They Pull Up Their Legs
In an effort to get rid of the gas, a baby will often bend their legs up toward their chest, according to The Bump. They may also arch their back. When you see this, along with other signs such as crying and bloating, that's your signal to help your baby find relief.
Once you're pretty confident that your baby's symptoms are being caused by excess gas, then you can help provide relief. WebMD recommended such fart-producing remedies as putting your baby on their tummy, giving them a warm bath, and gently rotating their legs in a bicycle motion. You'll know you've succeeded when your baby passes gas and their body relaxes. Of course there is also the trusty Fridababy Windi Gas Passer that moms swear by.
To help prevent trapped gas in the first place, you can try burping your baby frequently during feedings, as well as adjusting baby's position so that the head is above the stomach during mealtime. If you're bottle-feeding, make sure the bottle is tilted enough so that the milk or formula covers the entrance to the nipple. If you're breastfeeding, consider cutting back on beans, broccoli, lentils, and other gas-producing foods, which can be transmitted through your milk, cautioned Parents.
It may help to know that gas episodes eventually go away as your child's body matures and becomes more efficient at expelling gas on its own. But if your baby frequently seems uncomfortable, see your pediatrician, who can give you more info on how to reduce air bubbles in the stomach.
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