Breastfeeding

Here's why your breastfed baby farts a lot.
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Here’s Why Your Breastfed Baby Can’t. Stop. Tooting.

Seriously, there’s a reason why they have a whole bunch of farts.

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Passing gas is often a cause for a few snickers, but what if it's your baby? They can be pretty alarming (and stinky), especially considering the small body they're coming from. How does a human that small produce a gas plume that big? It doesn’t matter how you feed your baby, they’re bound to have some pretty big toots. But breastfed babies especially fart a lot, and there are several reasons why. Thankfully, most of them aren't serious cause for concern.

To be fair to your baby, some amount of gas production is absolutely expected. “All babies will produce gas; in fact, humans — including babies — produce gas an average of 14 to 23 times a day,” Dr. Florencia Segura, MD, FAAP, a board-certified Pediatrician at Einstein Pediatrics, tells Romper. This goes for all babies, regardless of how they are fed.

“There is not a clear distinction in gas production between breastfed and formula-fed infants; babies in both groups can produce lots of gas, or very little,” Dr. Tiffany Jumaily, a pediatrician at Integrative Pediatrics and Medicine in Studio City, California, tells Romper.

It is true that letting some wind go is par for the course when you're a human being, but many moms on online internet forums and social media threads report that their breastfed babies seem to really be letting it rip. Many, and understandably, wonder if it's something they're eating, something in all breast milk, something about the position they're feeding the baby, or something related to the baby's mouth. Turns out, it could be any one of those things.

So, with that in mind, here are seven reasons your breastfed baby may be cutting a lot of cheese.

1

Reaction To Mom's Diet

Some types of foods do tend to produce more gas. “Sometimes the food that moms eat can cause their babies to have gas and make him uncomfortable. A few common culprits are spicy dishes, broccoli, potatoes, beans, and cauliflower,” says Dr. Segura. Many of the common foods that cause gas, including cruciferous veggies such as kale and Brussels sprouts, may have that same effect on your breastfed baby.

If you’re really concerned or if your baby seems in pain while tooting, try keeping a food journal to see if you can figure out what’s causing all of those baby farts, and eliminate some items to see if it helps.

2

Cow Milk Intolerance

Not every baby is a fan of cow’s milk. “Some babies develop a cow's milk protein intolerance and develop frequent mucusy and watery stools, spit-up, and gas due to their inability to digest the cow's milk protein effectively,” says Dr. Segura. “These babies' gas and symptoms improve once mom removes dairy from her diet if she is breastfeeding or switches to a hydrolyzed — more broken-down — formula.”

With that in mind, have a check-in with your doctor before you go cold turkey on certain food groups. “For a breastfeeding infant, although food intolerances or sensitivity to food or supplements in mom's diet can play a role as well, a discussion with your pediatrician is highly recommended before eliminating large food groups in mom's diet, since mom's nutrition is so critical to the production of breast milk,” Dr. Krupa Playforth, MD, a general pediatrician in Northern VA at The Pediatrician Mom, tells Romper.

3

Frequent Feedings

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When it comes to feeding times, there can be too much of a good thing. In fact, “frequent short feeds that then lead to a foremilk-hindmilk imbalance” (that’s the milk that baby gets at the very start and very end of each feeding) can be another cause of infant gassiness, according to Dr. Playforth. You can figure out a breastfeeding schedule for your baby by watching your baby’s hunger cues and feeding every two to three hours for the first two months or so. But because every baby is an individual, definitely check with your pediatrician for more personalized feeding recommendations.

4

Poor Latch

Has your baby been checked for a tongue-tie? Tongue-tie, also known as ankyloglossia, can make latching difficult for breastfeeding babies. In fact, tongue-tie can cause a whole host of gas related issues in babies, according to a 2011 article published in the medical journal Clinical Lactation. If the baby isn't suckling properly it's assumed that they are taking in a lot of air during feedings, resulting in excess gas. If this is a concern, then ask your pediatrician to see whether your baby has tongue-tie.

But even without a tongue-tie, your baby may need some help latching. If you hear a lot of clicking from your baby or find that your nipples are being pinched into oblivion, it’s worth calling a lactation consultant to see if that’s also affecting your baby’s gas.

5

Feeding Position

Sometimes the baby needs a different way to hang out while eating. “Other reasons infants are gassy include inappropriate feeding techniques or position,” says Dr. Playforth. Try out the breastfeeding football hold, which is designed to help the baby latch well while resting comfortably. Other positions may have baby sucking in more air than they need.

6

Fast Bottle Nipple

If you're pumping your liquid gold and putting it in a bottle, it's possible that the milk is coming out too fast and your baby is taking in extra air. “Some bottle-fed babies can develop more gas if they swallow lots of air while sucking on the nipple,” says Dr. Segura. “One way to prevent this is to use a slow flow nipple, such as a preemie nipple when they are newborns.” You can also try to change your position during feedings to reduce milk flow.

7

Normal Gassiness

Gas in a baby may not be caused by any particular reason at all. “Infants produce lots of gas, particularly with digestion,” says Dr. Jumaily. If your baby seems uncomfortable because of it, then there are a few motions that may help out. “Some tricks to reduce gas in the moment include gentle massage of the abdomen, bicycling the baby's legs to work the gas out, and putting gentle pressure on the abdomen by lying them face down on your forearm, so their own weight gently compresses the intestines to encourage gas release,” says Dr. Jumaily.

The most important thing to determine is if your baby is in pain or uncomfortable from the gas. If yes, then seeking help from a trusted provider is best. But if not, no worries. You know, just plug your nose and enjoy the sounds of tiny baby toots.

Experts:

Dr. Tiffany Jumaily, a pediatrician at Integrative Pediatrics and Medicine in Studio City, California

Dr. Florencia Segura, MD, FAAP, a board-certified Pediatrician at Einstein Pediatrics

Dr. Krupa Playforth, MD, a general pediatrician in Northern VA at The Pediatrician Mom