Baby is Screaming in Pain from Gas? Read on!

Is your baby screaming in pain from gas? Sometimes crying is the only clue you have, so there’s probably not any way you can really know. If you suspect your baby is screaming in pain from gas, though, read on!

Newborn baby gas is one of the HARDEST things you’ll deal with as a new parent – and I wouldn’t wish the experience on my worst enemy. Given that you’re reading this article, it’s likely you’ve experienced the horror of your baby screaming in pain from gas.

I remember thinking so often as a new mother about how strange it was that I had to work so hard to stop my baby from having gas.

If this is happening right now, I know you’re seeking some serious help and I can only hope you’ll find the right solution here.

Know that I’ve been there mama, and I DEFINITELY remember what it feels like to deal with a gassy newborn.

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How to tell if baby has gas

Well… gassy isn’t the problem. As long as your baby seems comfortable, it’s not something you need to worry about. In this article I want to help the mom dealing with their baby screaming in pain from gas – because THAT definitely needs some additional help.

Personally, I think one of the easiest indicators of a gassy newborn is having your baby suddenly screaming in pain – and having it be totally out. of. nowhere.

Regardless, there are some more “scientific” signs you can look for if you suspect that you’re dealing with baby gas pain. This starts with understanding what causes gas in newborns.

Keep in mind, your doctor cannot really diagnose a baby with gas because gas is more of a painful symptom – not a diagnosis. You can definitely take your baby in for this and they may have some good recommendations for you, but usually it’s something you can manage at home.

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Signs of gas in baby:

  • Bloating or swollen stomach (sometimes feels hard to the touch)
  • Excessive burping or flatulence
  • Crying hard enough that they’re red in the face
  • Spitting up
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Crying while passing gas or right after
  • Lifting the legs more often than usual
  • Stretches body out and arches back, sometimes clenching fists at the same time

Causes of gas in your baby

Too much milk too fast

If you’re one of the mama’s who has an oversupply of milk or a forceful letdown, your baby may be getting too much milk too fast.

Don’t worry – it’s totally okay if you aren’t sure whether forceful letdown is a thing for you – breastfeeding doesn’t come with a manual and nobody expects you to know #allthethings (but there IS an amazing breastfeeding course here if you’re struggling).

The following are some signs that you’ll see if your milk is a little too overactive for your new little one.

  • Baby suffers from gagging or choking (or really any sort of not-good noise while breastfeeding)
  • Continually pulling away from the breast
  • Biting down on your nipple to slow milk during the let-down period
  • Dislikes comfort nursing or spits up frequently

Lots of crying

All babies cry – but when those tears won’t stop coming, it’s likely that they’re swallowing a bunch of air too. Swallowed air causes gas which causes more crying, which in turn leads to more gas.

It truly is an ugly cycle, which makes it almost impossible to deal with effectively until you can get your baby calmed down.

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Reflux

Reflux is a little more serious a condition and is beyond the scope of this article. If you’re concerned that your baby is suffering from reflux, definitely talk with your doctor.

In short, reflux is similar to spit-up, except baby is usually more bothered by it, its excessive, or it looks more like projectile vomitting.

Reflux can cause gas to build up, and is often associated with food intolerance or allergies which often go hand in hand with gas.

Thrush

Thrush can cause gassiness in your baby because of the yeast invasion in your baby’s gut. Learn more about what thrush is and how to deal.

New foods

Food can make ANYONE gassy (I’m lookin’ at you, magical beans!) When you’re introducing new things into your baby’s digestive tract, it’s more likely to cause some discomfort and gas.

Bottle feeding

Unfortunately, bottle-fed babies experience gas more frequently. This happens because they are swallowing more air along with their milk. Luckily – there’s a couple of things you can do to combat this which we’ll talk about in a bit.

Other common reasons for gas

Here are some other more self-explanatory reasons that your baby may have gas.

  • Constipation
  • Incorrect latch (if baby is not properly latched, they can swallow too much air).
  • Immature digestive system

Related: Newborn Checkup Schedule (0-4 months)

Infant gas relief – how to get rid of baby gas fast

Luckily, there are things you can do to help your baby (because NOBODY wants to deal with their baby screaming in pain from gas). What helps one gassy baby is not necessarily going to help another – so definitely try a combination of ways to prevent gas in babies, as well as treatment options.

4 Natural gas relief methods for babies

There are a few simple (and free) things you can do at home to help get rid of baby gas fast (or that’s the hope). It can be difficult to know how to comfort a baby with gas, and these natural remedies are probably your best bet.

1. Bounce your baby

Bouncing your baby can help move that gas in the right direction. Try bouncing baby in a gentle and rhythmic manner for ten minutes at a time. Personally, I found this was most easily achieved sitting on an exercise ball. This is also an awesome opportunity for you to get a little workout. If you don’t have an exercise ball, a mattress will work.

2. Baby massage for gas

A baby massage for gas can be soooooo helpful. Not only does it often help get rid of baby gas fast, but it’s also a great way to comfort a baby with gas and allow for some beautiful bonding time.

Now, if you’re dealing with your baby screaming in pain from gas, they may not be super receptive to a calming massage, so make sure you take the opportunity when you have a chance. Here are a couple of different baby massages for gas that you can consider

  • Massage your baby’s abdomen with your fingertips, moving in a gentle but firm clockwise circle.
  • Walk your fingers around baby’s naval
  • Trace I L U (I love you!) on your baby. This one is kind of neat and allows for some variation in your massage. First trace the letter I on both the right and left side of your baby’s body. Use two or three fingers to do this. For L, go across baby’s abdomen from their right to left forming the short side of the L. Then, make the second side of the L by going down the side of their abdomen. To make a U, drag your fingers in an upside down U from the right side, up and around the navel, and down the left side.
  • Hold baby at the waist and put both of your thumbs in the center of baby’s belly. Gently draw both of your thumbs out to the sides of baby’s abdomen at the same time.
  • Bring baby’s bent knees toward their belly. Make sure you’re supporting behind baby’s knees with your index fingers.

3. Pump baby’s legs

Bicycle legs is definitely a thing. Basically, you’ll lay baby face-up on your lap with their legs toward you. Then you slowly pump their legs in a bicycle motion. This could help push the gas out.

4. Give baby a bath

Warm water can help with almost all of our body aches and pains – and the same is true for gas pains. Try giving a bath right before bedtime, to help soothe and relax baby enough that (maybe) they’ll actually fall asleep.

Gas medicine for babies

Gas medicine is another option for your gassy baby. There’s no real harm in turning to medication first, but it certainly does have a few drawbacks.

Cost and convenience are real factors as a new mama, so don’t feel bad if you save meds as a last resort. Here are a couple of my favorite options for gas medicine for babies.

Types of gas medicine for babies

There are a few different avenues you can look at when picking an over-the-counter gas remedy. There isn’t one that works better than the other, and there’s also no guarantee it’ll work.

Simethicone

Simethicone is known as one of the main choices as an anti-gas drop. It works as an anti-foaming agent and breaks up the gas bubbles in your baby’s stomach. This way it helps relieve the bloating and pain associated with gas. It’s NOT absorbed by the body, which means it’s hard to overdose on and can be given fairly frequently (yay!)

My favorite option when it comes to simethicone drops is the drops made by Little Remedies, like what’s in this super cute Baby Essentials Kit. It does include gas drops, but in addition also has pain reliever, gripe water (which we’ll talk about in a minute), saline spray, and diaper rash cream.

An alternative option I like is this Mommy’s Bliss brand. It isn’t going to really matter what brand you get as they’re all basically made the same way, but I do recommend going with a known brand that’s widely trusted.

Gripe water

Gripe water is an over the counter supplement that’s been used for generations. It’s a combination of sodium bicarbonate and other herbs such as fennel and ginger (this can vary, depending on the formula).

Because ingredients vary, it’s important to check with your doctor before deciding on a brand. Go with something well-known, and make sure all of the ingredients are safe for baby. Here’s a well-known brand you can try (or just go with that Baby Essentials Kit I talked about earlier).

Other natural gas relief medication for babies

There are some other options out there for dealing with newborn gas pain that aren’t as well known. We’ll go over a few of those options now.

Gerber Soothe Probiotic Colic Drops

These colic drops from Gerber are definitely worth giving a try. It’s a probiotic that helps improve good bacteria in your baby’s digestive system. These have been clinically shown to reduce your baby’s crying time by up to 50%, and it’ll also help with reducing spit-up. You have to use it consistently for a couple of weeks, but many parents swear by the efficacy.

Windi the Gaspasser

Windi the Gasspasser was made by the same manufacturer as the Nose Frida (which if you don’t know what that is – you need to see this).

It’s basically a hollow tube contraption that you stick up your baby’s butt. While I don’t necessarily believe that this is a failsafe method to deal with your baby’s gas, it’s generally pretty harmless.

Related: All the Best Tips and Tricks for Getting your Newborn to Sleep

5 tips to prevent baby gas pain

While there’s no way you can totally prevent baby gas – there are things you can do to help make it less of a problem.

We already know that bottle feeding can make your baby gassier because it’s pretty easy for them to swallow more air than they should. Here are a few steps you can take to help prevent baby gas pain.

1. Use the right nipple size

Nipple size is dependent on your baby’s age and capabilities. Using a nipple that’s too large can make it more likely that your baby will choke, and therefore swallow more air. If you see this happening, try switching to a smaller size and see if it gets better.

2. Keep baby at an angle while feeding

If you leave your baby at a slight angle instead of lying flat, they’ll be less likely to swallow air. While you’re at it, make sure there’s a good seal between your baby’s mouth and the nipple, and that the neck and the bottle nipple are always filled with milk. The idea here is to keep as much air out of the top of the bottle as possible.

3. Hold baby up after feeding

I get that this is hard sometimes. Especially if you dream feed or put your baby to sleep while nursing. Regardless, keeping them upright for five to ten minutes after a feeding can make a BIG difference – especially if they didn’t get a good burp out.

If you can’t hold them upright, at least keep them at an angle for this same amount of time. After that time period, try and burp them again.

4. Burp baby often

Burping is SO important in preventing baby gas pain. Make a point to burp baby halfway through each feeding in addition to when you’re finished. Burping is definitely NOT an acquired skill and what works for one baby will not work for another.

Try out some different positions until you find something that works for your baby (because all babies SHOULD be burping).

5. Change baby’s diet

A baby introduced to solids is prone to have more gas. Real food can be difficult to digest for their little tummies, so it’s normal to see this when you’re transitioning from only milk to their first solid food. It’s worth talking with your doctor about and seeing if they want you to do something different.

Sometimes they may want you to stay away from a particular food, or maybe they’ll have you back off of the solids completely. The things that you eat (if you’re breastfeeding) may also have an impact on your baby’s gas. We’ll talk about this more below.

Gassy baby at night

I’m pretty sure a gassy baby at night is the WORST. Not only is your baby unable to get their much-needed rest, but neither are you. It’s completely miserable for everyone involved as you trudge through your day half-awake and emotionally exhausted from the night before.

It’s pretty normal to have a baby who’s gassier at night. This is because nighttime is when a lot of digestion happens.

How to help a gassy baby sleep?

Most of my recommendations focus largely on what I’ve said above. I would particularly plan on doing a bath before bed, giving some medication, and managing your expectations.

If you find that a baby massage for gas and constipation really helps your baby relax – do this. If it’s a warm bath every night, do that. Find what works and stick to it.

Make sure that you’re burping baby really well at night, and allow for enough time to do a proper bedtime routine. Maybe it’s dimming the lights and rocking in a quiet room, or reading a short board book. People, in general, thrive off of routine, so try and stick to whatever you find works for baby.

The consistency can help your baby feel more comfortable. Both of you may not get enough sleep for a while, but remember that it WILL get easier eventually. It may just take a while.

Gassy newborn and breastfeeding

I do want to make it clear that there aren’t specific foods that ALL breastfeeding mamas need to avoid. Each woman and baby is different, and so are their needs. Truthfully, MOST babies don’t have issues with anything that you eat.

Regardless, there is a very small percentage of breastfeeding mamas that will see a significant behavior shift in their baby when they eat certain foods. A great example of this is dairy, which is the most common problem food linked to gassiness in babies.

Foods that cause gas in breastfed babies

Unfortunately, there’s not just one answer to this question since it varies with each child. If you’re trying to narrow down a potential food that’s causing gas in your breastfed baby, pay attention to the following:

  • Dairy products
  • Wheat
  • Corn
  • Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Food that a family member is allergic to
  • A new food
  • A food that you recently ate a LOT of

It’s SO hard to know for sure whether your little one is dealing with baby gas pain due to the food YOU ate or something else.

Open communication with a pediatrician you trust is the best thing you can do for you and your baby if this is something you’re suspicious of.

When do babies stop having gas pains?

Babies usually stop having gas pains around 12 weeks, although it can last longer depending on what’s causing your baby’s gas pains. Having a more mature digestive track, becoming more mobile, and being upright more consistently can all make a difference.

Once you begin introducing solid foods, you may have problems with baby gas pains again. It’s not going to be as bad (most likely anyway), but it still may be uncomfortable for them.

Looking for more help with newborn care?

I couldn’t BELIEVE how much I didn’t know the first time around about newborn care – and I’m a freaking labor and delivery nurse.

It’s one of the main reasons I wanted to put together Newborn Basics. There’s just TOO much info out there on the internet! I wanted you to have everything you needed to be a more confident mama to your 0-3 month old in one place.

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  • Baby gear, essentials and feeding (I cover breastfeeding AND formula!)
  • Ways to troubleshoot issues like colic, reflux, and dairy allergies
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  • Navigating fevers, colds, and other safety precautions
  • Taking care of yourself postpartum
  • AND A WHOLE LOT MORE

All of the course content aligns with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. It’s designed to give you the know-how and peace of mind you need when it comes to caring for your 0-3 month old.

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Wrapping up baby gas pains

I know this is hard mama. Listening to your baby screaming in pain from gas is HARD. There’s no way around that.

The best thing you can do is try and make it easier on your baby by doing things that can help prevent and treat it.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself a little too. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and hang in there.

Please feel free to leave a comment below and let me know what you’ve done to help your baby deal with gas pain?

 

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Liesel Teen, BSN-RN
Founder, Mommy Labor Nurse

Meet Liesel Teen

Hi there. I’m Liesel!

As a labor and delivery nurse, I’ve spent countless hours with women who felt anxious — even fearful — about giving birth. I want you to know it doesn’t have to be that way for you!

When you know what to expect and have the tools to navigate the experience, you’ll feel confident and in control.

I believe you deserve a better birth — no matter how you deliver.