Help! Baby Screaming in Pain from Gas
Is your baby screaming in pain from gas? Trapped gas in the baby’s intestine can cause bloating and discomfort. Read on to learn causes, signs, and how to relieve gas pain in infants naturally.
As a new parent, if you didn’t get to sleep through the night because of a gassy baby, then this post finds you well!!
While it is heartbreaking to see your baby screaming, grunting, and squirming in pain, you can find comfort in knowing that it is relatively normal in infants.
Did you know on average, newborn babies passes a gas 13-21 times a day?
Yes!! No kidding!
It is funny when you hear your little one pass that roaring fart bombs at days and nights, which is actually a good thing. The problem arises when they can’t pass gas freely. When it gets trapped in their intestine, it results in bloating and discomfort.
This inability to pass gas calls for a very unhappy baby and an unhappy baby makes for one cranky parent.
Once upon a time, I was one sleepless and cranky parent. If you are one right now, I can understand what it feels like to deal with a baby screaming in pain from gas.
With lots of research, I have learned a lot about how to relieve gas pain in babies. If you are seeking some serious help, keep reading to find the right solution for your gassy newborn.
- What is Gas pain in babies?
- How do I know if my baby has gas pain?
- What causes Gas Pain in Babies
- 9 Proven ways to Relieve Gas in Babies Naturally
- Gas Drops for Babies: Do Gas Drops Really Work For Babies?
- Can Mother’s Diet Cause Baby Gas?
- Does Formula cause gas?
- How to Prevent Gas in Babies?
- How can I relieve my baby’s gas at night?
- When do Babies stop having Gas Pain?
- Baby Screaming in Pain from Gas I Final Thoughts
- How About You?
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What is Gas pain in babies?
Newborns 1 to 4 months of age are more prone to tummy trouble because of their immature digestive systems. Because the baby’s digestive system is still developing, air can get trapped when they are feeding or crying. This trapped air in the baby’s tummy is known as gas.
The gas is nothing but a natural product of bacteria lining the intestine and air swallowed by babies. It is common for babies to be gassy. It is the cause of concern when trapped gas in a baby’s tummy led to pressure and pain, making the baby scream in pain from gas.
How do I know if my baby has gas pain?
It would really help mom if the baby can talk, but they can’t!! Crying is the only sign they use to communicate when there is something wrong with them.
A baby develops a gas when tiny air bubbles get trapped in their stomach, causing pressure and pain. Many babies are not bothered by gas as they can pass gas freely. But for some babies, they become restless and cry for hours until they pass gas.
With gas pain, you want to look for all of a sudden screaming out of nowhere. I think it is the easiest sign to recognize gas pain in babies.
If you are still not sure, few scientific signs can help you decide if your baby is screaming from gas pain.
Most common symptoms of Gas Pain in Babies
- Excessive crying causing the face to turn red
- Baby cries when passing gas or soon after
- Crying even after they are fed and their diaper is changed
- Squirming and lifting leg while crying
- Bloating and tummy feels hard to touch
- Burping excessively
- Spitting up
- Aggressively eating hands and crying
What causes Gas Pain in Babies
Over 70% of newborn babies has gas. So, take solace in knowing that gas does not usually mean anything wrong with your baby.
Here are reasons for gas pain in babies;
Too much crying causes the baby to swallow air. Swallowed air causes more gas and excessive crying. It is sometimes hard to tell what causes what? To break this cycle, it is important to soothe a fussy baby. Until your baby calms down, it is hard to address this problem.
Baby swallows’ lot of air if they aren’t breastfeeding efficiently. Following are the reasons
- Incorrect Latch: If your baby is not latched on correctly, it causes them to swallow excessive air while feeding, causing gas and reflux in babies. Learning how to latch on correctly is important for both mom and baby to ensure baby don’t swallow excessive air and to avoid other issues such as cracked nipple, low milk supply in moms. A good nursing pillow can help bring baby closure to your breast and assist in getting a good latch.
Check your baby for tongue-tie or lip tie because it can cause incorrect latch, allowing the baby to swallow excessive air during feeding.
- Forceful let down: If you have a forceful letdown or oversupply of milk, that can lead to a rush of milk from your breast and cause baby to gulp too much milk too fast causing gas and frequent large spit ups in your baby.
- Feeding Position: Many new moms feed their baby in an almost lying position, with the newborn flat on their backs. That may cause air to trap in their intestine. Keeping their head elevated than their tummy while feeding helps release gas by burping a lot easier.
- Overfeeding a baby: Overloading the baby’s tummy with too much milk at once can also cause gas in the baby. According to Bill Sears M.D., a renowned pediatrician, professor of pediatrics at the University of Irvine, “Feeding too fast may produce lactose overload and increased intestinal gas from the breakdown of excessive lactose.”
- Short feeding session: If you are feed your baby only foremilk (initial lactose rich milk that comes out when you start nursing your baby), and not enough of the fatty hindmilk can contribute to gassiness in baby because of a relative lactose overload.
Don’t get overwhelmed with a lot of information here. If you are a first time mom and hasn’t got the hang of breastfeeding yet, no problem. It’s not too late to take this breastfeeding course to learn the hows and whys of breastfeeding.
Read my full review of this course HERE.
The immature digestive system in a baby can lead to gas pain in babies. As the baby’s digestive system is still learning how to digest food, process gas and stool effectively, babies 1-4 months of age are more prone to develop a digestive issue. Immaturity in babies’ gut microbial flora (healthy bacteria that lives in our gut) can also cause gas.
Let’s look at some of the gastrointestinal issues that can contribute to gas in babies;
Reflux: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may contribute to gas, or excessive gas may help develop reflux in babies. Both are interrelated as both involve the immature digestive tract. Read about reflux in babies HERE.
Thrush: Yeast infection in your baby’s gut causes white patches in a baby’s tongue and cheeks (oral Thrush) and sore skin in the diaper area, along with excessive gas.
Constipation: Constipation in babies also causes gas (swollen tummy-hard to touch).
Food Sensitivities: Babies may have sensitivities to cow milk protein present in breast milk or formula.
New food: In older babies, the introduction of new food is the most common cause of gas and fussiness.
Like breastfed babies, bottle-fed babies also get gas frequently. Bottle feeding also causes a baby to swallow air along with milk.
Psst.. Aren’t newborns handful? There are so much that we don’t know about newborn when we bring them home from the hospital, which is okay. No one expects you to know everything.
But if you are struggling, there is an amazing Newborn course that you can take. This course is for first-time parents and covers everything from tummy time to digestive issues in babies (spit-ups, gas, burps, dairy allergies, colic crying), to diapering, to newborn sleep, and much more.
Related read: Why Baby’s Gas Smells like Rotten Egg or Sulfur?
9 Proven ways to Relieve Gas in Babies Naturally
Occasional gassiness is inevitable, but when a baby screams in pain from gas frequently, it needs your attention. There are natural things that you can do to relieve gas in babies. Not every baby is the same; one thing that works for one baby may not necessarily work for another. So, try a combination of the following items.
1. Feed your Baby at an angle
When breastfeeding, keep your baby’s head slightly elevated than the stomach. If you are bottle-feeding, hold your baby in an inclined position rather than completely flat on their back. Tip the bottle somewhat so that the air can rise to the top, making sure the milk completely covers the nipple. Try an angled or curved bottle with a vent system to allow air to vent out.
2. Make sure Baby is Latched Correctly
Find your most comfortable feeding position to breastfeed your baby. When you start your nursing session, hold your baby so that your nipple is in level with his nose. Touch your nipple gently against his upper lip to get him interested in opening his mouth wide.
Now, bring the baby to the breast, aiming your nipple towards the top of his mouth. Your baby’s chin should be the first thing that touches you’re your breast. A latch is correct when your baby takes a large portion of areola into his mouth, with his bottom jaw covering underneath the areola.
3. Burp your Baby During and After Feeding
Burping is very important during and after each feeding to release gas from the baby’s stomach. My grandma used to say, burp baby three times at each feeding- one time when you switch your breast, two times after feeding.
I had a hard time getting one burp out of my baby, and three-times, burping was mission impossible for me until I tried hard. Trust me, burping three times made a huge difference.
There are 3 ways you can burp your baby.
- Seated Position: Support your baby’s head with the cradle of your hand and gently tap baby’s back until they burp.
- Upright Position: Just hold your baby upright until they burp
- Over your shoulder: Hold your baby on your shoulder in a way that your shoulder gently presses their stomach. This technique worked best for me.
Don’t be impatient if the baby doesn’t burp right away. It may take few minutes for gas bubbles to rise to the surface in your baby’s tummy.
4. Use a Right Bottle if you are Bottle feeding
Use a bottle with a wide nipple base so the baby can latch on correctly to avoid swallowing excess air along with milk. An angled bottle with a venting system at the bottom of the bottle works best to release air bubbles from the bottle when the baby drinks milk from the bottle.
- Related reading: The 10 Best Bottles for Breastfed Baby
- Related reading: The 10 Best Bottle Warmer for Breast Milk
5. Bounce your Baby
Bouncing your baby in a gentle, rhythmic manner helps the release of gas in the right direction. Keep your baby in an upright position and gently bounce them for 10 minutes after feeding.
Sometimes it is hard to wait until that burp comes out of the baby’s stomach. What really helped me was babywearing. It is one of the must-haves if you want to soothe your fussy baby.
When you wear your baby, the gentle natural bounce that occurs each time you walk helps release swallowed air from the baby’s upper and lower intestine. So, burp and fart are both covered!! Win-Win.
6. Tummy Time
Let your baby spend some supervised tummy time when he is awake. Little pressure on the stomach helps release trapped gas.
7. Bath Your Baby
Bathing a baby in warm water may help soothe a fussy baby. If your baby is fussy at a certain time of the day, then plan a warm bath at that time to soothe a baby.
8. Massage your Baby for Gas
Massaging a baby for gas is the most effective technique for releasing trapped gas. Watch this video demonstrating different massage techniques to relieve gas in the baby.
- While your baby is laying on his back, gently massage the baby’s tummy in a clockwise motion with your fingertips and then bring your hands down the curve of the baby’s belly.
- Trace I L U (I LOVE YOU) on your baby’s tummy. First, trace the letter I using two or three-finger on the right side of baby’s abdomen up at the rib to hip joints. Then move slightly to the left and repeat. For the letter L, go across baby’s tummy from right to left, forming a long side of L. Then take a turn and go downside of baby’s abdomen to complete the L. For the letter U, drag your fingers in an upside-down U from the right side, up and around the navel, and down the left side.
- Hold the baby at the waist with your fingers and put both of your thumbs in the center of the baby’s belly. Then gently pull your both thumb at the same time to the side of your baby’s abdomen.
- Bent your baby’s knees gently and bring it towards their belly.
9. Bicycling Baby’s Legs
Lay your baby face up. Bent your babyès both knees gently and slowly pump both legs back and forth like riding a bicycle. This circular motion could help release trapped gas.
Gas Drops for Babies: Do Gas Drops Really Work For Babies?
If your baby is suffering from a painful gas and is inconsolable, it is okay to turn to gas drops. There are several over-the-counter gas drops to choose from. All of them work differently.
Simethicone is formulated to relieve symptoms associated with having too much gas in stomach and intestine. It works as an anti-foaming agent, breaking up gas bubbles in your baby’s tummy.
Simethicone is generally safe medication for babies and can be given up to 4 times a day. However, most studies suggest these drops might be no better than a placebo at reducing crying or gas (1).
I like THIS Simethicone gas drops. These gas drops work in minutes to relieve symptoms of gas, and it also works on hiccups. You don’t want hiccups when the baby has gas because it can lead to even more pain from swallowed air.
If you are looking for more natural drops, then Mommy’s Bliss gas drops are great. It is formulated with combination natural ingredients such as ginger and fennel.
Gripe water is used for generations to treat infant gas. It is hard to tell if it works or it has a placebo effect. But many moms swear by gripe water for relieving gas pain. Gripe water is formulated using a combination of sodium bicarbonate and other natural herbs depending upon the brand you choose.
I like Colic Calm gripe water as it safe, effective, and FDA listed homeopathic medicine made with natural active ingredients.
Research studies suggest that regular use of probiotics can help relieve gas and colic symptoms in babies. Probiotics are the helpful bacteria in your gut to help you digest food and fight off infections.
Baby’s digestive system is still maturing, so they don’t have beneficial microbial flora in their system to digest food, causing gas and colic symptoms. Giving Probiotics drops regularly to babies helps balance this lack and aids the digestion process, preventing air bubbles from being trapped in the intestine.
If you don’ want to use medicated drops, its okay. Check out following product designed to relieve gas from baby.
Windi the Gasspasser
Windi the Gasspasser is a product designed by company who developed NoseFrida – to such boogers from nose. It may sound hilarious, but it exactly does what it has been invented to do and is safe. It’s a hollow tube that you insert in your baby’s bottom to release trapped gas.
Can Mother’s Diet Cause Baby Gas?
According to most Healthcare organizations, Breast milk is the only food that babies need until they are 6 months old. So, there is no need to stop breastfeeding because your baby has gas. Gas in babies is inevitable in the first 1 to 4 months of their life.
Many breastfeeding mothers worry about their diet causing gas in babies. However, study published in 2017 found that mothers often needlessly restrict their diet (3). There is no need to restrict any specific food.
But if you really think that something in your diet is causing gas in the baby, try keeping a food log, which may help identify whether particular foods trigger gas in a baby. You may want to try eliminating dairy and caffeine first before restricting “gassy food” – Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, beans – from your diet.
Does Formula cause gas?
Yes, Infant formula can also cause gas in babies. At the same time, in preparing recipes, excessive mixing causes air bubbles to form, increasing the risk of gas in babies. To avoid this, after mixing the formula with water, let it settle before feeding the baby. You can also try the pre-mix formula.
Sometimes, babies are sensitive to ingredients in the formula. A research study published in 2011 suggested that feeding babies an easily digested low-lactose formula may ease gas and colic in babies(4).
If you suspect the baby is gassy because of formula, talk to your pediatrician before switching the formula.
How to Prevent Gas in Babies?
Gas is inevitable in babies 1 to 4 months of old so you can not prevent gas in babies. But you can certainly do things to minimizes the problem. We have already talked about how to resolves breastfeeding issue in order to minimize gas in babies. Let’s quickly recap;
- Keep your baby’s head elevated than their stomach
- Make sure they are latched on correctly, so they don’t swallowed air with milk
- Burp baby often – during and after feeding
- Keep your baby upright after feeding for at least 20 min – Let gravity help – Babywear them
- If you are bottle feeding – use angled bottle and wide mouth nipple
- Slow down feeding – too much milk too quickly can cause gas. Use slow-flow nipple
- Avoid prolonged sucking on pacifier or empty bottle nipple
- Change baby’s diet – if breastfeeding, mom should avoid gassy food as mentioned above. If formula feeding, change formula.
How can I relieve my baby’s gas at night?
Most mothers would agree that Gassiness in babies gets worst at night. This is because most of the digestion happens at night.
If you are reading this because your baby is screaming in gas pain night, I feel your pain, mama! I have been there twice. The best advice that I can give you is to find a bedtime routine with your baby. If they like a warm bath, give them a warm bath before bedtime. If they are comforted by swaddling, do that. If they want a massage, provide them with a massage.
I will let you know what worked for my gassy baby.
Before bedtime, I gave his abdominal massage as described above for gas pain. After 10-15 minutes of abdominal massage with almond oil (you can use oil of your choice), gave him a warm bath. Then gave him Simethicone drops. I maintained this routine for almost 4 months.
You can find your routine with your baby and see what works for them. The important thing to keep in mind at night-time feeding is, burping them. I know they get sleepy, and hard to get a burp out of them but hold them upright on your shoulder even at night for a burp.
When do Babies stop having Gas Pain?
An immature digestive system is to blame for gassiness in babies. As your baby grows older, starts moving their arms and legs, and starts being upright more, gas pain goes away.
However, it can come back when you start solids in your baby. Check out THIS post on how to start solids in babies.
Baby Screaming in Pain from Gas I Final Thoughts
I hear you, mama! It is hard to see a baby screaming in pain from gas. Unfortunately, there is no magical treatment out there! For most babies, the number one treatment for gas pain is time. Let their digestive system mature to digest food, gas, and poo effectively. When it comes to relieving gas pain in babies, always look for eliminating causes for the gas rather than only treating the symptoms.
Meanwhile, responding to their cries promptly, improve upon your feeding techniques to make sure they swallow less air while drinking milk, give them an abdominal gas massage every day, and burp, burp, and burp!!
How About You?
How did you manage gas pain in your baby. What has worked for you? Please leave your comment below.
- Johnson JD, Cocker K, Chang E. Infantile Colic: Recognition and Treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2015 Oct 1;92(7):577-82. PubMed PMID: 26447441.
- Sung V, D’Amico F, Cabana MD, Chau K, Koren G, Savino F, Szajewska H,Deshpande G, Dupont C, Indrio F, Mentula S, Partty A, Tancredi D. Lactobacillusreuteri to Treat Infant Colic: A Meta-analysis. Pediatrics. 2018 Jan;141(1). pii:e20171811. doi: 10.1542/peds.2017-1811. Review. PubMed PMID: 29279326.
- Jeong G, Park SW, Lee YK, Ko SY, Shin SM. Maternal food restrictions during breastfeeding. Korean J Pediatr. 2017;60(3):70‐76. doi:10.3345/kjp.2017.60.3.70.
- Infante D, Segarra O, Luyer BL. Dietary treatment of colic caused by excess gas in infants: biochemical evidence. World J Gastroenterol. 2011;17(16):2104‐2108. doi:10.3748/wjg.v17.i16.2104
The Sensitive Gut by Harvard Medical School: Lawrence S. Friedman, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Anthony L. Komaroff, M.D., Editor in Chief