5 Helpful Tips for Gassy Babies & Their Moms
Anyone who has walked the floor at night with a gassy baby will agree to give up anything if it will stop the pain. Sleep deprived, jiggling an increasingly heavy baby, I racked my brain. What in the world had I eaten to cause this misery? Was it the cauliflower? The tomato soup? The white sauce?
People suggested all kinds of foods I should give up. Onions, Garlic, Wheat, etc. I began to wonder what would be left to eat.
Being vegetarian requires enough creativity without cutting out half the options. I pictured myself dutifully forking up bland rice with unvaried vegetables. It was not a nice thought. Good food is just about the only luxury I enjoy, and I didn’t want to give it up just on the off chance it might help with the gas.
So I did my research. Keep in mind I’m not an expert – I’m just one Mom sharing what I learned. To my great relief, it turns out food isn’t the number one culprit in gassy babies.
1. Air is the number one culprit:
As in the swallowing of air. Babies can swallow air while nursing, or while crying. That’s easy enough to solve. Frequent burping while nursing fixes the first cause, and quick comforting keeps crying to a minimum.
I try to prevent crying anyway for a happy baby and my blood pressure, not to mention my eardrums!
2. Breast Milk Oversupply:
If Air isn’t the problem, it might be Breast Milk Oversupply causing gas. That’s one I wouldn’t have thought of.
Lots of milk is a good thing, right? Yes – if you have twins. If not, the baby can get too much foremilk (the watery sugary stuff that comes out first) and not enough hindmilk (the thick fatty stuff). The hindmilk slows down digestion, which helps prevent gas.
I noticed a big reduction in gas after I worked with a lactation consultant to fix Yosie’s latching problems. Lactation specialists can also help with the problem of too much breast milk, but be careful of solutions that reduce your milk supply.
Breast milk oversupply can become an under supply in a hurry, especially when baby has a growth spurt. I ended up pumping out the excess breast milk and storing it in the freezer. It has come in very handy during those growth spurts I just mentioned.
Having solved air and oversupply problems, I read that the only real cure for gassy babies is time. Babies have immature digestive systems, and they suffer from gas because of it. Most of them grow out of the gasiness at around three or four months of age.
That is not comforting in the middle of the night.
4. Food Intolerance:
If the baby’s gas is a result of food intolerance, there are likely to be other symptoms. Rash and frequent spitting up are the two I saw mentioned most often, along with vomiting and congestion.
Surprisingly, the foods that give Mom gas supposedly aren’t a problem. So don’t go giving up broccoli and beans just yet. That food reaction is local to your own GI tract.
Fiber and undigested food don’t pass from your GI tract to the blood and into the milk. It’s the food components, like small chains of proteins, that pass from the GI tract, end up in your breast milk and give your baby’s immature digestive system a hard time.
The most common food villain is dairy, particularly excess consumption. You might get by with the white sauce, but don’t follow it with ice cream for dessert!
Before you vegans start gloating about your dairy free state, I’d like to add that half the babies with dairy intolerance are also soy intolerant. Ouch!
5. Food Allergies:
Other foods that might be a problem are common allergens such as wheat, fish, eggs, and peanuts.
If you have a family history of food allergies, and none of the other issues I mentioned are making your baby miserable, it’s worth doing an elimination trial to rule out these suspects. Eliminate each food from your diet for a week and see if it makes a difference.
It’s worth noting that food intolerances can go away as a baby’s digestive system matures, so you should try reintroducing any foods you have had to eliminate. Don’t assume he or she is allergic forever just because a food is causing colic now.
Every Baby is Different:
It’s also worth noting that even though all of the sources I read denied the link between gas causing foods in mom and colic in her baby, none of them were willing to rule it out entirely. Every baby is different, and there’s always a baby who defies all the rules.
One mother in my Facebook Moms group did an elimination diet, and found that corn was a problem for her son. Another mom, feeding donated breast milk, found that a properly warm bottle made all the difference.
All the experts say that breast milk is the easiest thing to digest, problems or not. It is designed for baby’s tender new tummy, and nothing else comes close as the perfect nutrition for baby.
But of course, there’s an exception to that rule too. One poor mom told me about trying every possible thing, giving up almost every food, giving infant probiotics, using colic calm … you name it, she tried it. Finally she had to put her baby on a hypoallergenic soy formula, which worked.
I can’t imagine all the heartbreaking, sleepless nights she must have spent with her baby, desperate for a solution.
I’ve come to the conclusion that a nursing mom can try all the obvious solutions listed above, and most likely get relief that way. But Moms have to follow their intuition above all. If you think it’s the tomatoes, it just might be. And it won’t hurt to cut them out for a while to see if it helps.
A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do! Zoe Keeland, Veggie Mom
References: A few sources that I found very helpful
Thanks also to the ladies in my moms group, who generously shared their personal stories.