Gas problems in babies have various causes, from the normal process of digestion to food allergies to hyper-lactation syndrome. Though not all gas in babies can be eliminated, there are methods of reducing the discomfort baby might experience. Learn the symptoms of gas problems in babies, how long they commonly last, and the options you have for treating the pain caused by gas.
According to T.A. Lawrence (B.Sc, CIRM, CPMP), writing for ColicCalm.com, all babies have gas to some degree, and "gassiness in the newborn and many babies often results from multiple factors." Some of the most common causes of gas problems in babies are the following:
Air intake during feeding can be a problem. In this case, the baby does not latch on well or gulps too quickly during feeding, taking in swallows of air along with the milk. There air bubbles can cause cramps. This can occur whether baby is bottle-fed or breast-fed.
The infant may have a reaction to what its breast-feeding mother eats. Although there isn't much scientific evidence, many breast-feeding Mamas swear that their baby reacts to what Mama consumes. Foods that commonly cause gas in adults--such as cruciferous vegetables or very acidic foods--are often tagged as culprits.
Some situations may occur with hyper-lactation syndrome. According to Lawrence, this excess of foremilk during breastfeeding can occur with an over-abundant milk supply and can cause crampiness in baby.
Colic is also a casue. Colic is the still mysterious and upsetting condition in which a normal, otherwise happy baby has extended periods of uncontrollable crying. Gas may be both a cause and an effect of this condition.
Babies cry for many reasons, so a little crying doesn't mean that baby has gas or is crampy. However, when baby keeps crying and isn't satisfied with normal holding, cuddling or activity, gas may be the culprit. Watch for fussiness after eating, clenched fists, drawing up and kicking legs, and general signs of discomfort.
Gas can be a problem in babies due to their immature digestive system. That's good news. As baby grows, his digestive system will mature, and gas will become less of a problem. Many babies have significantly fewer problems with gas by three months old, according to FamilyDoctor.org. By six months of age, most gas problems will be gone.
Some gas in baby's intestines cannot be helped; it is a natural byproduct of digestion. However, according to Lawrence, a thorough burping after every feeding can help eliminate much of the gas in the tummy and may help prevent it from becoming painful. For breastfeeding moms, eliminating some foods from the diet may be helpful; if hyper-lactation is a problem, then using a breast pump to reduce the amount of foremilk before feeding baby might help prevent gas problems.
There are available treatments for gas in babies; you should always talk to your pediatrician before trying any, as their effectiveness will vary according to what is causing your baby's gas. Some of the options include Mylicon, which is one of the most popular gas remedies. Mylicon's active ingredient is simethicone, which is purported to attach to gas bubbles and make them easier for baby to expel. Homeopathic drops are another option. There are multiple brands, often called colic gripe water, which exist in different formulations. Colic Calm is one; it contains a blend of herbs, vegetable charcoal, water, and glycerin.