May 8, 2024
Belly pain
May 8, 2024
Belly pain

9 ways to help your gassy newborn

When your baby starts grunting, pushing out toots, and you catch a whiff of something funky, it’s probably a sign that your baby is passing gas. Passing gas is normal, but when it starts to build up, it can lead to discomfort, pain, or even bouts of colic. Since dealing with a gassy baby isn’t fun for anyone, we'll walk you through the ins and outs of all things gas — triggers, how to spot it, and ways to offer your baby some relief. With a few tricks up your sleeve, you might turn that farty baby into one happy camper. And if you need a few bonus tips, don’t forget Summer Health pediatricians are just a text away.
Dahlia Rimmon, RDN
Written by
Dahlia Rimmon, RDN
Content Writer
Dr. Marcy Borieux
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Marcy Borieux

What causes gas in newborns?

Here are a few common culprits that can lead to gas in newborns:

  • Swallowing air during feeding
  • An immature digestive system
  • Food, breastmilk, or formula sensitivities or intolerances

Let’s discuss them in detail.

Swallowing air during feeding

When babies drink milk, whether from a breast or bottle, they’re bound to swallow air too. Swallowing air can lead to gas buildup, which is why it's important to take some steps to reduce it, such as:

  • If you’re using a bottle, choose one with anti-colic features that’s designed to reduce the amount of air babies swallow during feeding.
  • Feed your baby in an upright position to help them swallow less air, and better handle any gas bubbles.
  • Burp your baby at least once or twice during and after feeding to release any trapped air and ease gas pains.
  • When preparing baby formula, make sure to pop any bubbles that may form when you’re shaking it, which can contribute to gas buildup.
  • For breastfeeding, ensure your baby has a good latch to prevent them from gulping down extra air while nursing. A secure latch can make all the difference.

Immature digestive system

Your baby's digestive system is still developing, and they don’t yet have all the needed enzymes for efficient digestion, which can result in trapped or excess gas.

Sensitivities or intolerances

Your baby may be sensitive or intolerant to certain substances in breast milk or formula. Some babies may have trouble digesting larger proteins found in dairy and soy, which may cause gas pains.

What are some signs and symptoms of infant gas:

Aside from those stinky toots, here are some other signs that your baby might be gassy:

  • Excessive crying: Though we all wish babies came with instruction manuals, sometimes a colicky baby may be uncomfortable due to trapped gas. You may notice your baby is super fussy during or immediately after feedings.
  • Squirming or grunting after a feeding
  • Excessive burping
  • A distended belly

9 ways to help your gassy newborn

Here are some pediatrician-approved strategies to help your baby relieve gas.

1. Manage air intake during feedings

Because babies can take in air while feeding, it's important to reduce air intake as best you can. If you're using a bottle, choose an anti-colic bottle or nipple to reduce air intake. If you’re breastfeeding, ensure your baby has a secure latch to prevent them from swallowing too much air.

2. Burp your baby

Even if your baby has the fanciest anti-colic bottle, they can still gulp down some air during feeding. Burping your baby once or twice during and after feeding can release trapped air that’s causing discomfort. If you're bottle-feeding, try burping at least every 1-2 ounces, or when the bottle is halfway empty. For breastfed babies, burp every 5-10 minutes, or when switching breasts.

3.  Bicycle your baby’s legs

When changing your baby's diaper, gently move their legs in a bicycling motion as if they were pedaling a bike. This movement will apply pressure and stimulate their bowels to release any trapped gas. Don't be surprised if you hear a few farting noises shortly after!

4. Engage in tummy time

Similar to bicycling your baby's legs, tummy time encourages your baby to engage their core muscles which can release gas.

5. Infant massage

Infant massage isn't just about calming and relaxation — it can also relax the muscles required to release gas. Give your baby's tummy a gentle massage using slow, circular motions.

6. Switch up your diet

While research is limited on the impact of a mother’s breast milk on baby’s gassy habits, it may be worthwhile to run your own little experiment. Consider keeping a food diary and monitoring your baby's reaction after you eat certain foods like cruciferous vegetables, dairy, or soy. This can help you identify if any specific foods are making your baby uncomfortable.

7. Switch formulas

If you suspect that your baby is having difficulty digesting larger proteins because of their developing digestive system, it's a good idea to talk to your pediatrician about switching formulas. Your pediatrician will provide guidance on hypoallergenic formulas, which contain smaller proteins designed to improve digestion.

8. Switch to shorter feeds

If your baby also has associated spit-ups, It may be beneficial to feed your baby smaller meals more frequently rather than larger meals less often. This may help decrease how often and how much your baby spits up.

9. Offer colic drops

With your pediatrician's approval, you can consider giving your baby some colic or anti-gas drops to ease gas pains. These over-the-counter medications typically contain simethicone, which can help reduce bloating, gas, and discomfort.


Should I give my baby probiotics to relieve gas?

Although research on probiotics for children is limited, some pediatricians recommend probiotics to strengthen your baby’s overall gut health. Remember, talk to a pediatrician before starting any new supplements.

What are gas drops?

Gas drops, also referred to as colic drops or anti-gas drops, are over-the-counter medications typically containing simethicone. They can help reduce bloating, gas, and discomfort. Your pediatrician may suggest these for your baby to relieve gas pains.

How can I help my baby pass gas?

Applying gentle pressure to the belly can literally push out gas. Tummy time, cycling your baby's legs, or using certain carrying positions can provide the right amount of pressure to help your baby find some relief from gas.

Does broccoli or cauliflower cause gas?

Broccoli and cauliflower are gaseous foods, and it's normal to produce gas after eating them. But every baby is different, and just because a food is gaseous doesn't mean it will lead to excess or trapped gas.

Can I give my baby gripe water?

Since the ingredients in gripe water can vary between supplement-makers, and because it’s not FDA regulated for safety, consider avoiding gripe water.

Dahlia Rimmon, RDN
Content Writer
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