Gassy babies can be hard to deal with. The natural pain and discomfort they feel when they are gassy will no doubt impact everyone else in your home when they cry more and find it harder to sleep at night.
As well as offering some classic tips and tricks when it comes to caring for a gassy baby, we explore the best sleeping position for a gassy baby (something many parents have wondered about!).
What Does Gassy Mean?
As you will already know, everyone experiences gas. As you digest food and aboard certain incredibly into the body, the large intestine breaks down the leftovers, releasing hydrogen and carbon dioxide and producing bubbles of gas.
However, when gas doesn’t pass easily, it can be incredibly uncomfortable and even painful – collecting in the digestive tract and causing bloating.
Burping, or passing gas, allows some gas to escape from the stomach and adults are able to do this with little thought (apart from considerations about the most discreet ways to do this of course).
As a newborn's digestive systems are immature, they produce a lot of gas and often can’t bring themselves to pass gas without some help. Infants may also take in a lot of air while feeding and crying, which produces more gas in their systems. Even the smallest amount of additional air can result in unwanted pressure and discomfort.
Newborns’ digestive systems are immature and produce a lot of gas, which they often can’t get rid of without some help.
The majority of a baby's gas problem will come as a result of their feeding, which is completely normal. Some babies are gassier than others and this is perfectly normal too. However, there may be a few other things causing more gas to be produced, or exacerbating gassiness.
For instance, certain swallowing positions when your baby is feeding may cause them to intake huge amounts of additional air. A good connection with the milk source (breast or bottle) is recommended so there are no long gaps in their feeding when they are sucking in too much air.
How to Identify A Gassy Baby
It can often be hard to tell exactly what it is that’s bothering your baby. Even before considering the best sleeping position for a gassy baby, you’ll need to understand if your baby is suffering from too much gas or another ailment. A few telltale signs that your little one needs to pass gas but is having trouble include:
- A redness in the face while crying
- Increased squirming/wriggling while they pull their legs up to their chest
- Fussiness or clear signs of discomfort after feeding
- Trouble eating
- Difficult getting off to sleep at night
How to Treat A Gassy Baby
The pressure on your baby’s stomach when lying on their stomach can help in the release of gas. The floor's resistance can offer gentle encouragement to your little one’s digestive system.
You can also add some pressure manually and gently with a baby massage. Stroking their tummies softly can also help in the expulsion of gas as well as relax your baby as they are settling down for sleep allowing you to kill two birds with one stone.
Assisted Bicycle Kicks
Lie your baby down on their back and cycle their legs toward their stomach. You may know this from one of your core fitness workouts. The difference is you’ll have to do all the work for them.
A Warm Bath
Putting your baby in a warm water bath before feeding is said to help calm their stomachs. A relaxed baby from a soothing bath may also be one that’s easier to get to sleep!
Back Is Still Best for Safe Baby Sleep – Even for Gassy Babies
Putting your baby to sleep on their back is still best. Some say the best sleeping position for a gassy baby is on their front, but the risks that this can pose to your baby’s health are too high, according to multiple sources such as the CDC and APP.
The frustrating part is that putting your baby on their backs could be contributing to more discomfort, however, their discomfort won’t last forever and as their digestive systems develop around the six to seven months period, they should be much less sensitive to trapped gas.
Until then, focus on preventive measures before your baby goes to sleep and techniques for alleviating discomfort. If you have a good sleeper, you may even be able to burp your baby while they are sleeping, to reduce the chance of gas causing your baby to wake up.
Best Ways to Prevent Future Gassiness
While a certain amount of gas is always going to exist in your little one’s digestive system, a few tips and tricks can be used to prevent too much from building up.
Both feeding your baby in an upright position could help their tummies process food more smoothly, preventing excess air from accumulating when they are sitting down. If this is not possible, holding your baby upright directly after feeding may also help.
Plan Meals Strategically
Babies can be more stressed when they’re hungry and may consume milk more furiously than they would if they were not so starving. This can cause them to gulp in large amounts of air and create more gas in the stomach. By feeding your baby strategically, you can keep this to a minimum.
If your baby has fallen asleep while nursing, try holding them semi-upright against your chest, so that their head can rest on your shoulder and you can burp them gently.
Burp Your Baby
Actively getting the gas out of your little one’s tummy will help you when it’s time to put them to sleep. We call this burping and it’s advised to burp your child whenever they look like they need it.
You can do this by gently patting their back before, during or just after a meal, releasing any air they have swallowed and stopping it from getting trapped by milk or formula. A good window to do this is when they take a pause in their feeding, but have not yet finished their normal amount.
If your baby has fallen asleep while nursing, try holding them semi-upright against your chest, so that their head can rest on your shoulder and you can burp them gently. The pressure of your body against their tummy and your patting on their back will hopefully encourage a well-needed burp.
Adjust the Angle of Feeding
Your baby’s head should be higher than their stomach when they’re feeding. This will allow liquid to slowly make its way through the digestive trace while any gas bubble rises naturally to the top. Not doing so can trap the gas and make it difficult for your little one to burp.
When to Contact A Doctor
To keep things 100% safe, the best sleeping position for a gassy baby is always on their back. This should help reduce any unnecessary risks during bedtime or naptime, such as your baby’s mouth becoming obstructed.
If your baby continues to be fussy and uncomfortable, we would still advise against putting them on their front to sleep, even though some parents have claimed that this can help babies to release gas while sleeping.
The truth is, your baby may be unhappy because of another ailment or sickness, such as an allergy or reaction. If you are worried about this, or if gassiness is accompanied by other more serious symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, it would be advised to contact a doctor to get a better understanding of what may or may be the cause.