Babies are small, fragile and adorable, so it can be surprising when they manage to fart more than some adults. This frequent and sometimes loud farting can raise a few questions: How does such a tiny body produce so much gas? Will they be this gassy for their whole life? Is something serious going on?
As it turns out, your baby is probably perfectly normal, and their noisy and frequent gas is likely nothing to worry about. Read on to learn more about how the typical baby’s body works, different situations that can cause more gas and what you can do help your musical baby if their gas seems to bother them.
Where Does All This Excess Gas Come From?
Despite their small frame and angelic appearance, a baby’s body and daily circumstances can actually create the perfect storm for intestinal gas.
Babies are more likely to swallow air than older children and adults for a few reasons:
- A poor latch while breastfeeding. When your baby latches onto the breast properly, their lips form a strong seal that lets in little to no air. An incorrect nursing position that results in a poor latch could introduce air each time your baby sucks.
- A fast flow bottle nipple. A rapid milk flow could cause your baby to gulp their milk down and swallow air in the process.
- Frequent or prolonged crying. Teething pain, separation anxiety or a parent not responding to needs fast enough can all lead to crying fits, and some of the deep breaths your baby takes while crying make their way into the stomach.
- Excessive laughter. As cute as it is, a baby’s exuberant belly laugh may be bringing in quite a bit of air.
Immature digestive system
Your newborn’s body is still perfecting the muscular actions of moving food through the intestines, and it is likely to take a couple of months for the digestive system to learn how to work efficiently after birth.
Your newborn also lacks the healthy gut bacteria that break down food. At birth, the typical baby has no gut flora, so it can take a few months to establish enough healthy bacteria to digest foods properly. Certain proteins, fats or carbohydrates found in breast milk and formula could be especially difficult for your baby to digest until they have all the necessary gut flora.
Difficulty processing lactose in normal or high amounts
Lactose is a protein found in human milk. If your baby is unable to digest lactose fully, it could lead to excessive intestinal gas.
Some babies have lactose intolerance or Transient Lactose Deficiency, which means they have difficulty breaking down normal amounts of lactose. However, your baby’s farting could still be due to lactose even if they don’t have either of these conditions.
When a mother produces large quantities of milk, her baby has a tendency to eat more frequently and take greater amounts of milk. A baby’s digestive system often can’t fully process this high amount of lactose, and gas can be the result.
Starting solid foods
Introducing solids is a huge change for your baby’s digestive system, so it makes sense that some signs of indigestion, including frequent farting, can occur.
Fortunately, your baby should adjust to their new diet on their own in a couple of months.
Antibiotics seek and destroy bacteria, and they often take out the good guys along with the bad. These good bacteria are responsible for a large part of digestion, and your baby could have some difficulty breaking foods down properly when their normal bacterial balance gets thrown off.
Antibiotics can get into breast milk, so your baby could be extra gassy even if mom is the one taking antibiotics.
Signs Your Baby’s Gas May Be a Problem
It’s perfectly normal for your baby to fart several times a day. As long as they don’t seem bothered by their gas, try to laugh it off and not let it bother you either.
However, excessive gas can be uncomfortable or even painful. These are some signs that your baby needs help in dealing with their gas:
- Abdominal bloating
- Frequent burping
- Frequent crying
- Constant farting
- Baby reacts in pain when you push gently on their belly
- Belly feels hard
Tips for Reducing Gassiness
Try a Different Bottle-Feeding Technique
The paced bottle feeding method uses a nearly-horizontal position and low-flow nipple to slow down a bottle feed and reduce the chances of your baby swallowing air along with their milk.
This technique can also be helpful in several other ways, so don’t miss our paced bottle feeding guide for more details.
Burping your baby well during and after feedings can help release swallowed air before it has the chance to become intestinal gas.
Make it a point to take a burp break every few minutes while your baby nurses or takes a bottle, and always let them have plenty of time to bring up air after every meal.
Lower body movement frequently helps dislodge pockets of gas trapped in the intestines. Use these two methods independently, or feel free to switch back and forth in a single session.
- Knees to chest – Grasp your child by the feet, gently bring their knees up to their chest and hold the position for a few seconds. This maneuver helps open up your child’s rectal area and can make it easier for them to release gas.
- Pedaling – Grasp your baby by the ankles, and move their feet and legs like they are riding a bicycle. If your baby is a newborn, use a slow pace and move their legs gently. If your baby is a little older, you can go a bit faster as long as they tolerate it.
Holding your baby in an upright position can help their digestive system move along at a more efficient pace.
Babywearing can help you comfortably hold your baby upright while also keeping your hands free. Riding in a snug carrier can also be soothing for many babies, so they may be less likely to cry and swallow air.
A warm bath
Warm water is relaxing to just about anyone. Soaking in a warm tub may help your baby relax their abdominal muscles and release gas.
Gently massaging your baby’s tummy can help you manually move trapped air through the intestines.
As soon as you dry them off after a warm bath, use a baby-safe lotion or oil to massage your child’s belly in a clockwise direction.
Pressure on the belly area can help push gas through the digestive system. Many babies also like to kick and move around while they are on their tummies, and their movements can help move gas along.
Probiotics and medication
Since your baby’s farting may be due to a lack of the friendly gut bacteria that aid in digestion, using a probiotic to increase the number of these “good guys” could be helpful.
Some babies may also find relief from gas-reducing medications. These products help break down gas bubbles, and they usually come in the form of easy-to-administer oral drops.
Look for a probiotic or medication that is appropriate for your child’s age, or ask your baby’s health care provider for their suggestion.
When to Seek Medical Help
While most babies don’t require any medical treatment for their frequent farting, be alert for signs of a potentially serious situation.
- Prolonged vomiting and diarrhea
- Burping, increased farting and fever of 101 F or more
- Inconsolable fussing or crying
- Blood-streaked bowel movements
Many factors could be contributing to your baby’s farting. Fortunately, their gas is usually harmless and they should grow out of it over time. For now, be alert for signs that your baby’s gas might be uncomfortable, and take the steps you can to help them move things along.
Was your baby gassy? Did you try to do anything about it? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!