Gas Problems In Infants

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Passing gas often during the day is a common occurrence in babies. Since they feed round the clock, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if they pass gas 15 to 20 times a day. Discomfort due to gas build-up upsets almost every baby at some point and to varying degrees as some pass it easily, and a few struggle to do so. Learning how to prevent and treat gas can save you and your baby a lot of stress.

How Does Gas Form In Babies

Gas in infants is a natural by-product of digestion of proteins and fats in the breast milk or the formula that is fed to the baby. Gasses are buoyant and make their way out of the system by building up a small amount of pressure and moving along the digestive tract. Sometimes, excess gas that is generated or sucked in during feeding can get trapped in the intestines and build pressure causing some pain to babies Here are a few factors that lead to gas build-up:

  • Improper latching onto the breast or the feeding bottle can cause excess air being swallowed during meal times.
  • Excessive crying can cause babies to swallow air before being fed. Sometimes crying excessively can be a sign of gas-build-up. It can consequently also cause gas build-up,forming a vicious cycle.
  • A newborn’s intestine is still developing and continues to do so after it is born. At this phase, the baby would still be learning how to process food and pass stools, leading to excess gas being formed.
  • Gas in babies can also be a result of the underdeveloped bacterial flora in the intestine.
  • Breast milk contains traces of food that the mother consumes. Certain foods that cause gasin babies while breastfeeding are nuts, coffee, milk products such as cheese, butter, ghee, beans and spices.
  • Overfeeding can cause problems by overwhelming the baby’s gut leading to gas production. It is also thought that foremilk and hind milk during breastfeeding has an impact on the production of gas. The foremilk is rich in sugars such as lactose and the hind milk is richer in fat. Lactose overload may contribute to gas and irritabilty in babies.
  • Several factors such as hormone regulation, constipation and carbohydrate intake also contribute to gas.

Signs And Symptoms Of Gas Problems In Babies

Babies have only one verbal way to communicate their needs; crying. Discerning whether it is hunger, pain, discomfort, tiredness, loneliness or gassiness takes some observation skills and there are tell-tale signs for each. When they cry due to pain from gas, the cry is often sharper, frantic and more intense which is accompanied by body gestures such as squirming, clenching the fists, straining, knees pulling up to the chest and grunting.

Newborn Baby Gas Problem-Home Remedies

If you’re wondering how to help relieve gas in newborns, the following procedures can help:

A few home remedies for gas in infants include:

  1. Maintain proper position while feeding

While breastfeeding, keep the baby’s head and neck at an angle sothat they are higher than the tummy. This makes sure that the milk goes down the stomach and the air comes up. The same applies to bottle feeding. Also tip the bottle such that the air rises to the top and doesn’t accumulate near the nipple.

  1. Use the Feed and Burp rule

This is the best way to prevent excess air ingestion by the baby. While feeding, take a break every 5 minutes or so and gently tap the baby’s back to help him burp. This allows the milk to settle in the stomach and the gas to bubble up.

  1. Distraction to stop crying

Crying makes babies swallow air and the more they cry, the more air they swallow. The goal is to stop the crying as quickly as possible by distracting the baby with objects and sounds.

  1. Tummy massage

Tummy massages are a great way to reduce gas build-up in babies. Lay the baby on its back and gently rub the belly in a clockwise motion and then run the hand down the curve of his tummy. This procedure helps the gas move easily through the intestines.

  1. Pediatric Probiotics

Probiotics such as yoghurt contain plenty of helpful bacteria that are good for the intestinal flora. New research suggests that paediatric probiotics, when given for a period of several weeks ease gas and stomach problems.

  1. Gripe water

Gripe water has been used for decades to soothe infants with gas problems and colic. Gripe water is a solution of water mixed with sodium bicarbonate, dill oil and sugar which gives a safe and effective relief from gas in less than 5 minutes.

  1. Mustard Oil Massage

Giving your baby a massage with warm mustard oil and a warm water bath can relieve gas problems. The movements help the expulsion of gas from the intestine and the warm water triggers drowsiness, calming them down.

  1. Asafoetida

Add about two mustard grain-sized bits of asafoetida to warm water and feed it to the baby if he/she is suffering from gas. In small amounts it is effective in relieving gas. Since it is also a strong spice, nothing more than the above mentioned amount shouldbe given.

  1. Simethicone

Simethicone is a baby gas medicine that is administered for gas problems. It works by combining the smaller gas bubbles in the stomach into a larger one that can be passed out easily. This drug also comes with artificial flavours and colours but a paediatrician should be consulted before using it.

What You Can Do To Prevent Gas Problem

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Keeping a close eye on the foods given to the baby and the resulting gas accumulation can help you restrict certain food types or give it to them at different times during the day. It is also advisable that the nursing mother avoids eating certain foods that cause gas such as dry fish and prawns, spicy meat dishes, nuts, pulses, milk products and vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower etc. There are also certain foods that can be eaten to relieve gas such as ginger, asafoetida, garlic, fennel seed, jeera water etc.

Ensure that the baby gets some tummy time. Make the child lie down on his stomach for a few minutes. The gentle pressure applied on the tummy helps in passing gas and also strengthens the baby’s back and neck muscles. Pat the baby on his back often during the day while you hold and play with him.This helps in consolidating gas in their system and passing it out easily.

When You Should Call The Doctor

If the baby cries for long periods of time and shows unusual behaviour coupled with fever, vomiting, prolonged crying and poor feeding, it’s best to consult the doctor to look for any serious problems.

Conclusion: While the baby is not able to communicate when it is experiencing gas trouble, it is important that you take note of the signs. Gas build-up, while common, can be troublesome if not taken care of and could cause severe discomfort and pain for the baby.

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