When babies eat, they tend to take in air bubbles that can cause a lot of pain when it moves through the intestines. While you're waiting for those gas bubbles to pass, help your baby find some relief with these proven remedies.
Effective Strategies for Soothing Gas Pains
"In order to treat gas, it is somewhat important to understand what causes gas and why gas causes problems," says Dr. Rebecca Dixon, Riley Children's Health Pediatrician and Hospitalist. Gas is actually tiny air bubbles trapped inside your baby's body. Whenever the intestines get stretched as these air bubbles pass through, it causes pain. Therefore, effective remedies involve helping the gas pass quickly and making the air bubbles small enough they don't stretch the intestines.
Give Baby a Dose of Simethicone
If it's safe for your child, the doctor can suggest using Simethicone, which is found in most baby gas drops sold in stores. This particular medication is not absorbed into the bloodstream, and it makes large bubbles smaller just like a detergent. As the bubbles get smaller, they won't cause pain anymore. Although you can buy Simethicone over-the-counter at a local drugstore, you should always consult your child's pediatrician before trying a new medication.
Try a Warm Compress
Soak a washcloth in water that is slightly warmer than room temperature. Wring out the excess water and lay the warm compress on baby's belly. When using this method, it is important to make sure the compress isn't too warm as an infant's skin is easily burned.
Lay Him On His Back
Any pressure on baby's belly during gas pains could cause additional discomfort. Try laying your little one on his back or holding him in a position where you aren't putting any pressure on his abdominal region.
Use Gas Pain Prevention Strategies
If your baby has frequent bouts of gas pains, there are several things you can do to prevent future episodes.
Burp Baby Frequently
Frequent and efficient burping is one of the best ways to help your baby avoid the pains of gas. This gets the air bubbles out before they get a chance to move through the intestines. For breastfeeding babies, burp between sides and after each feeding. When bottle feeding, try burping after every one or two ounces. Burping your baby just before laying her down for naps or bedtime can help prevent her from waking with pains.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Some say certain foods breastfeeding mothers eat cause more gas. Instead of taking on the frustrating task of trying to figure out what foods are causing the gas, Dr. Dixon recommends mothers eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of water. The only exceptions to this recommendation are for babies with a milk protein allergy or those with blood in their poop.
After your child's last feeding before bedtime, give them 10 to 15 minutes of play time so they get a good chance to burp before falling asleep. This also helps your baby learn to go to sleep because they are tired and not be so reliant on feeding to fall asleep.
Remedies to Avoid
Attempting to comfort your baby during a time of pain can be hectic and emotional for you both. Keep your cool and make sure you're only using gas relief remedies that are safe for your child.
Giving your baby herbal remedies like teas can be dangerous to her health. Honey is another natural remedy to avoid as it can cause life-threatening conditions in children under 12 months old. Although some may claim these methods have worked or are safe, you should talk to your child's doctor before trying herbal remedies.
Don't use regular water or products labeled as "gripe water" in an attempt to push the gas through the body, dissipate the bubbles, or provide pain relief. Too much water can be more harmful than helpful.
Give Your Baby Some Relief
Any time your child is uncomfortable, they can benefit from your undivided attention. The gas should pass normally, but while you wait, you can try holding your baby and using the calming strategies you've found to be most helpful.