A gassy baby who is feeling pain and misery can keep everyone in the household awake. Treating the problem by easing baby's bloating makes for a happier baby who can settle down to sleep more easily.
Start planning before the baby becomes gassy by using techniques that cut down on gas and bloating. The first line of defense against gassiness is to make sure the baby doesn't intake any air when eating. For breastfeeding moms, this means making sure that the baby has a good latch and trying to eliminate foods from the mom's diet that the baby may be sensitive to. For bottle-feeding, using a bottle with collapsible liners and ensuring the baby is taking in the whole bottle nipple, not just the tip, is essential.
After every feeding, the baby should be burped immediately. If the baby is particularly gassy, burping during feedings may help. You should stop the baby every few minutes for a burp, then return him to the breast or bottle to continue eating.
Hold the baby upright for 30 minutes after each feeding. This helps move food (and any air that got pulled in with it) through his digestive system instead of collecting in the stomach or intestines where it will cause him pain later.
If prevention doesn't work and your infant is already crying due to gas pains, try massaging his abdomen in clockwise circular motions to help him work the gas through his system.
Manipulate his legs and body to get his bowels moving. Try circling his legs in a "bicycling" motion to ease gas pains. Another technique used in baby yoga is to bend his legs and pull his knees up to his belly, holding them there for a few seconds. Sitting the baby on your lap and bending him forward at the waist can also help some babies ease their digestive systems along.
Try a herbal or homeopathic remedy to encourage natural healing, advises physician Lauren Feder, with Dr.Feder.com. A commercially available gripe water is one option for easing gas pains. Gripe water contains ingredients such as chamomile, dill, fennel and ginger. You might also make your own remedy from chamomile or fennel tea.
Give your baby some simethicone drops, which work by breaking down gas bubbles in the digestive tract. However, while studies have shown that simethicone drops do work as claimed, they also have not found any reduction in crying or fussiness of babies who use them. Whether they are truly effective at relieving gassiness is still a matter of debate, according to authors of "Infantile Colic," published in the August, 2004, American Family Physician.
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If nothing you do seems to help, just remember that babies become less gassy as they get older and their digestive systems start working better. Soon the gassy phase will be just a memory. Consult your pediatrician before giving your baby anything other than formula or breast milk.