A gassy baby is an unhappy baby, and an unhappy baby makes for a sleepless, cranky parent. When my daughter was just a newborn, a lactation consultant patiently explained to me that infant digestives symptoms are really a work in progress. So no matter what I did, I could expect spit up, upsets, and yes, scrunchy-faced gas pains. She recommended I take an infant massage class (which was not cheap, but like, I was desperate), to learn how to relive gas in babies instantly. One trick was totally worth the cost.
According to Parents, babies get gassy because their large intestines are working overtime, and because they tend to swallow a lot of air. However, the truth is that no matter what you do, your baby is going to be gassy sometimes. So here's what you do. Cup your hands under your baby's knees, and gently press their folded legs against their belly. If you hear a satisfying toot, you've done it. You've relieved your baby's gas, and saved the day — probably even the world.
Rubbing your baby's belly in soothing circles from time to time is another way to help digestion along, or so I learned in my overpriced infant massage class. Also, don't forget to "bicycle" your baby's legs, which is great for their circulation and as a bonus, prevents constipation. While you can't entirely prevent gassiness — according to WebMD, babies pass gas 13 to 21 times per day, which any parent will easily believe — you can head it off at the pass, so to speak, by burping them often during feeds. WebMD also recommended keeping your baby's head higher than their stomach as you nurse or feed them to get everything moving in the right direction. Additionally, if you're using a bottle, look out for bubbles in the nipple (a surefire recipe for gassiness), and never let them suck at an empty one.
"Gas is a big concern for new parents," explains Leigh Anne O'Connor, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), in an email to Romper. She notes that some level of gassiness is normal, but that if your baby is really uncomfortable, it might be from fast milk letdown (especially if you're in the "anti-gravity position" — lying back). If you worry your baby is getting gassy because of something you're eating, she suggests keeping a food diary for a few days to figure out what the trigger is. She notes that "a very common gas-causing food is dairy."
If nothing seems to help, you still have options. If you're nursing, you should look into whether your baby is tongue tied. "A baby with a tight tongue can be gassy as they take in more air when nursing. Having the tongue tie released can help a great deal," explains O'Connor. "Finally, torticollis can cause gassiness. This is when the neck is tight — typically the baby will favor turning their head more to one side than the other. To help, some physical therapy exercise or exercises and tummy time to loosen the neck. In severe cases, cranio-sacral therapy helps."
Babies often look very uncomfortable when they're gassy. If you're really worried, don't hesitate to give your doctor a call. For most parents however, gas is just part of the newborn experience. Remember the magic trick — knees tucked up to belly — and know that as your baby develops, their digestive system will mature as well. So you can look forward to less gassiness, fewer spit ups, and a baby that practically burps themselves.
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