What Makes a Breastfed Baby Gassy?

Breastfeeding is the best way to give your baby the nutrients they need. Breast milk contains all the necessary nutrients your baby needs for the early months. It also gives them antibodies to keep them from getting certain childhood diseases and keeps you and your baby close. You may have noticed breastfeeding makes your baby gassy. Many new moms wonder why.

All babies, no matter how they are fed, normally swallow some air and pass gas. There are some babies that get a large amount of gas in their intestines and become fussy. Babies who are gassy tend to strain and push trying to get the air out, but there are ways you can help.

Why Is My Breastfed Baby Gassy?

Babies naturally have underdeveloped digestive tracts and gas is a very normal occurrence. You will notice them trying to strain when they have a bowel movement or pass gas. Understand these are very normal things and doesn’t mean your baby has a digestive issue. As your baby grows and matures, so does the digestive system. If your baby seems fine or you don’t notice signs of a food allergy, then there usually isn’t reason to worry about gas. Time will usually solve the problem. Here are a few causes of gas in breastfed babies:

  • ŸYou may have a very large milk supply.
  • ŸIf your baby is crying excessively, they may be swallowing too much air while crying and this can make them gassy.
  • ŸYour milk flow is too fast. This can cause your baby to gulp and swallow air while nursing.

Does The Mother's Diet Make The Breastfed Baby Gassy?

There is always the possibility that something you’re eating may be giving your baby gas. Experts in the field say that if your baby is more gassy than normal, excess gas usually shows up in two hours after eating an offending food. Then, it could take a full two to three days for an offending food to clear out of your body. If you baby is more gassy, you need to think back to what you have eaten in the last 3 days. You might be able to see exactly what it was that caused your baby excess gas. See the tips below on how to make some changes and help relieve gas in your breastfed baby.

How to Relieve Gas in Breastfed Baby

The best way to relieve gas for your baby is to wait until they are a little older to eat certain foods. Your baby’s digestive system needs time to mature and as they get older, gas causing foods will be a little easier for them to tolerate. Here are a few tips to help make your baby less gassy from breastfeeding.

1. Make dietary changes. There are many different foods on the “gas causing” list, so it may limit you too much to omit all the gas causing foods. Omit one for a few days and see if it helps. If not, omit another and only let go of foods one at a time to see which ones offend your baby’s digestive system. Here is a list of some gassy foods:

  • ŸFiber Foods: Bran and bran products
  • ŸFruits: Apricots, prunes, peaches, pears, and plumsandcitrus (oranges, lemons, grapefruit)
  • ŸVegetables: Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbages, asparagus, artichokes, cauliflower, onion, garlic and beans
  • ŸStarches: Corn, pasta and potatoes
  • ŸOther Foods: Dairy, chocolate, coffee and carbonated soda/waters
  1. 2. Feed your baby in the right way. If your milk let’s down too quickly, your baby may gulp and swallow too much air. Hold your baby as upright as possible to ensure they swallow the milk and not air.
  2. 3. Hold baby upright or in “football hold” for at least one-half hour. After you feed your baby, keep him upright over your shoulder and pat his back to help the air surface. If your baby has gas cramping, use the football hold and apply gentle pressure to his stomach.
  3. 4. Make sure baby is latched properly. Make sure that your baby is latched onto the nipple properly. The entire areola needs to be inside baby’s mouth and his or her lips need to form a good seal around the nipple.
  4. 5. Smaller and more frequent feedings. To prevent baby from becoming too full or getting too much air, feed more frequently for shorter periods of time. Some gassy babies are just overfull.
  5. 6. Always burp during and after feedings. In the middle of the feedings, like when you are switching sides, stop and burp your baby. Then at the end of the feeding burp your baby again before putting him down. You may also need to try a few ways to get your baby to burp such as; upright on your shoulder, laying across your knees or sitting your baby up and holding his head in one hand and using the other for patting the back.
  6. 7. Massage her tummy. Try rubbing her abdomen to break up any air bubbles and get the air to move. You can give a tummy rub about one-half hour after feedings or anytime you think your baby has excess gas.
  7. 8. Relieve overfilled breasts. If one breast becomes too full, try feeding baby on the other side and pump off some of the excess milk from the other breast. This will prevent milk from letting down too quickly, making baby gulp and swallow air.
  8. 9. Use a heating pack. Baby stores often carry heating packs you can warm and use on baby’s stomach for gas pain relief. Place a warm pack over baby’s clothing then wrap in a warm blanket.
  9. 10. Gas just needs time. Your baby will naturally be gassy in the early months while his digestion is maturing. After feeding, if you have a gassy baby sometimes you just need to wait for it to pass.
  10. When to Call the Doctor About Breastfed Baby Being Gassy

    • Call the pediatrician if your baby has other symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea or constipation
    • Get medical help if your baby is crying uncontrollably for long periods of time and seems to be in pain
    • Call the doctor if your baby has been exposed to a gastrointestinal illness

One Mom's Experience

“My baby cannot tolerate any dairy products, beans, caffeine or chocolate. For about two weeks, I eliminated all of the offending gassy foods. After two weeks, I added them back in one at a time. I made a list of all the foods that made my baby gassy and stay away from them. Once in a while, I sneak a piece of cheese or a piece of chocolate. It has been really hard to stay away from these foods, but my baby is feeling much better. It is really worth the effort!”              

                                                                                                                       Susan, 3/18/2014

The following video explains more on breastfed baby gassy as well as solutions to other breastfeeding problems: