How to Tell if a Baby Has Gas

Soothing Your Baby After Meals

Gas: It happens to everyone. Air gets trapped in your stomach while you eat, often leading to post-meal discomfort. You can pop a chewable tablet to relieve your gas, but your baby can only communicate that he’s suffering. It’s up to you to identify that your infant has gas so you can try to soothe him. Luckily, it’s usually pretty easy to diagnose a case of gas, because the symptoms often start right after a feeding.

Gabbing Gas

Unrecognizable mother holding crying newborn baby girl.

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“Having gas” simply means that air or other gases are trapped in the digestive tract, causing pressure and bloating. Your baby gulps in air while he eats. His body also creates gas as it digests his food, so it’s completely normal for him to be gassy.

Ideally, a baby eliminates any gas that builds up, either through flatulence or burping. But when some gas remains in his digestive tract, you may notice that his belly looks bloated. A gassy baby is often fussy because of the discomfort, so he may cry or seem dissatisfied even though he’s neither hungry nor needs a diaper change. Your baby also may be more likely to spit up when he’s gassy. As those bubbles work their way up and out of his stomach, they may bring up some of his food with them.

You’ll know that he had gas if he suddenly seems happier after he burps or poops or after you massage his tummy.

Easing Baby's Gas Pains

One way to stop gas before it starts is to make a habit of burping your baby in the middle of a feeding, instead of waiting until the end. If he's willing to take a quick break from eating, burp him quickly as you move him between breasts or when he's about halfway done with a bottle feeding. Burp him after the feeding too.

If he still seems gassy after you burp him, wait 10 minutes or so to let his stomach settle. Then place him on his back on a flat surface and alternate between moving his legs in a bicycling motion and gently rubbing circles on his stomach. Placing him on the ground for tummy time may also help him eject some painful gas.

A baby who bottle feeds is especially prone to gas. Use bottles that are specifically designed to minimize gas. If you feed him formula that you mix up from powder, let the mixture sit for a few minutes before giving it to him. Stirring and shaking the formula causes bubbles to form. Allowing it to sit for a bit should break up those bubbles before they cause gas.

Some nursing moms find that eating a lot of gas-producing foods makes their babies gassy. It's worth keeping track of what you eat and your baby's gassy periods in a food journal. You may discover that your infant's fussy periods most often happen after you eat beans, broccoli or other gas-causing foods.

If your baby is routinely gassy, using simethicone drops may prove effective in breaking up gas bubbles. They've available over the counter and easy to administer by mouth.

Talk to your pediatrician if your baby has frequent bouts of gassiness that burping don't seem to help, if he spits up daily, or if he often has diarrhea after eating. Sometimes symptoms that seem as if they're caused by gas are actually caused by colic, reflux, a milk allergy or some other issue.