Let’s face it, at some point in your infant’s life it’s highly likely he will struggle with gas. This could be for any number of reasons: an immature digestive system, swallowing too much air, reacting to something in Mom’s diet, or perhaps something in baby’s formula disagrees with him, even if only a bit. Below is a list of ideas and techniques to help you successfully care for a newborn experiencing gas, whichever end your baby is having a hard time with.
Paced feeding is the method of holding baby upright as much as possible, being conscious to support baby’s head and neck. Keep the bottle as horizontal as possible to allow milk to fill the nipple fully – this will allow for baby to control the “pace” of the feed. Follow baby’s cues and pauses to stop and periodically burp him. This will help with the buildup of gas. If baby needs to take smaller more frequent feedings, that is okay too.
Why do babies need to burp anyway? Babies swallow air bubbles, which get trapped in their stomach. This causes discomfort. Burping allows your baby to remove some gassiness and relieve the pain, also helping to minimize any spitting up. Signs of trapped gas include – crying, arched back, drawing legs in, clenched fists and a tight stomach.
- Over the shoulder: Lay a burp cloth or cloth diaper over your shoulder to catch any spit up. Hold baby upright with head and neck supported on your shoulder and pat baby’s back helping to express air. You can cup your hand a bit so as to soften the strike especially when your baby is a newborn.
- On your lap: Sit baby on your lap making sure to hold baby under the chin and supporting baby’s head up. Rub and pat baby’s back to express air.
- Arm out: Lay baby over your arm and support his head in your hand. One of baby’s arms and legs will be on each side of your arm so that baby’s tummy is laying directly on your arm. The pressure of your arm against baby’s tummy feels soothing. Now take your other hand and pat baby’s back. Babies like this hold in particular as their head gets stronger and they can look out while being supported.
While some parents are afraid to give their baby a pacifier for fear they will be “hooked,” a pacifier can help with gas. With the pressure on baby’s tongue, the natural reflex of suckling can help release trapped gas and ease out a burp. Pacifiers release the hormone Cholecystokinin (CCK), helping baby to not only feel full and aid in digestion, but also help soothe and comfort them. This relieves tension and releases the buildup of gas, leaving baby calmed and soothed.
Hold Baby Upright
Provide comfort and care for a newborn by holding your baby upright after feeding, either over your shoulder or sitting on your lap. Remember to always support baby’s head and neck. Keep baby upright between 10-15 minutes to prevent gas, bloating, and spitting up. Baby’s digestive systems are not fully developed after birth so it’s not uncommon for milk to rise back up the esophagus a little bit. Being upright allows for gravity to help baby begin to digest.
Gripe Water & Gas Drops
What is Gripe water?
Gripe water is considered a natural botanical herbal supplement used to help soothe an upset stomach. Most brands often contain bicarbonate, ginger and fennel. Some may also contain dill seed oil, sugar, and alcohol. It is important to know that while many people swear by Gripe water and have had much success, the FDA does not evaluate or regulate Gripe water. Talk to your baby’s pediatrician if your baby is struggling with gas and you think Gripe water might be right for your baby.
What are Gas Drops?
Gas drops contain simethicone, which breaks up larger gas bubbles into smaller gas bubbles. The AAP suggests that gas drops are safe and adverse side effects are rare. However, simethicone can interact with other medications so as always talk to your child’s pediatrician before offering Gas drops.
Care for a Newborn with Infant Massage
As with all of baby’s bodily functions, baby’s digestive system is still new and trying to work independently from mom. It’s very common for baby to struggle to pass gas and stools. We will go over three massage techniques to help baby find relief to pass gas and possibly a bowel movement.
I Love You
This classic maneuver is great for aiding in digestion. Have baby lay on his back. Using a vegetable-based oil, place your three fingers (index, middle, and ring) on the left side under baby’s rib cage. Stroke straight down three times, this is the I of the I love You. From there take the same three fingers starting on the left side under baby’s ribs and move horizontally to the right and then down to just above the waist. This is the L for Love; repeat this three times. Now you’ll make a U for the you of “I love you.” Starting on the left side of baby’s lower tummy, you’re going to use the same three fingers to go up and around like a rainbow, staying under the ribcage, and down the other side to finish. Do this three times to help baby; repeat throughout the day if need be.
This is great for moving the muscles in baby’s tummy and getting gas and digestion going. With baby laying on his back, hold one leg in each hand. Now, push in on the left and out on the right, going up and over like you would pedal a bicycle. Remember to push in before you go up and over on the down stroke to maximize the pressure of the muscles along the stomach and digestive track.
Sit on the floor in either a criss cross position or legs open in a V. Bring baby’s back up against your stomach and support him in a squatting position, with baby’s knees bent so that his bottom is lower than his knees and baby’s knees are up as close to his chest as possible. Remember to support baby’s heads and neck at all times. This is the natural position for pushing out a stool and can help relieve gas as well. You can gently take three fingers and pump against baby’s tummy to help the process. Do not force anything that makes baby uncomfortable.
If you feel that your baby is experiencing anything more than just normal gas, as always please speak to your child’s pediatrician to rule out any serious issues. A Newborn Care Expert can help walk you through all of these techniques in the comfort of your own home. If you are interested in learning more about how our overnight or daytime Newborn Care Experts can assist you, reach out to us today at email@example.com.
About The Author
Nancy M. has worked with children for over 25 years, with all ages and stages. She has been a Nursery/Pre-school teacher, an international and domestic travel as well as live-in Nanny, and House Manager. Nancy is an Advanced Newborn Care Expert, Certified Lactation Counselor, Postpartum Doula, and Certified Infant Massage Instructor. She is Mom to one daughter and volunteer foster Mom at her local animal shelter.