Gas discomfort upsets almost every baby to some degree and it affects both breast-fed and bottle-fed babies. While gas pain can afflict a child at any age, it is particularly common in newborns between one to four months of age, because of the immaturity of their digestive systems. Furthermore, some babies seem to suffer more than others due to inborn and environmental factors.
Pockets of trapped gas act like corks in the digestive system, causing painful pressure points to build up in the affected areas. Symptoms of Trapped Gas include abdominal pain or cramp, fussiness and crying, burping and belching, excessive spit up, hard distended belly, and flatulence.
Discomfort often occurs when gas pockets became trapped in the digestive system. Causes of trapped gas include:
1. Incorrect feeding technique – resulting in too much air being swallowed.
2. Overfeeding – overloading baby’s tummy with too much food at once.
3. Immature digestion – baby’s gut has not learned to push through food, gas and stool effectively.
4. Food sensitivities / allergies – to trace elements of foods that increase gassiness passed in breastmilk or formula.
5. Lactose intolerance – is caused by insufficient production of the lactase enzyme that breaks down milk sugars.
6. Excessive crying can cause babies to gulp air into their digestive system.
According to Lauren Feder, MD, author of Natural Baby and Childcare, “The most common cause of abdominal pain in a child who does not have fever, vomiting, or diarrhea is trapped gas.”
When tummy upset strikes a child, a parent’s first instinct is to find a safe and natural solution, but babies obviously can’t tell us the location and nature of their problem. Thus, knowing and observing the signs of intestinal gas is necessary to identify an effective remedy.
Burping is baby’s natural way of expelling gas built up in the stomach and you should encourage your child to burp during and immediately after a meal. However, if baby hiccups, burps, belches or spits up excessively, it may indicate that too much air is being swallowed during feeding.
While spitting up could be due to eating too much or too fast, it can also indicate gas build-up. A small amount of spitting up, often accompanied by a burp, is normal during and just after baby’s feeding. However, frequent or excessive spit-ups could indicate built up gas pressure which may also cause the infant’s stomach to distend painfully or even force stomach contents to reflux into the esophagus, where unprotected tissues can become inflamed, causing your baby heartburn.
Gas has buoyancy and trapped gas essentially acts like a cork in the intestines, causing the flow of gastric juices to slow or stop. A swollen abdomen could be a sign that gas is trapped in the intestines, causing built up pressure to accumulate. Built up pressure thus causes bloating of the abdomen, resulting in pain and discomfort. Baby’s immature digestive system is unable to cope effectively and baby may experience painful cramps.
It is quite normal for babies to pass gas around 15-20 times per day. Gas can enter the digestive system through several sources including normal digestion of nutrients in milk and formula and air swallowed during feeding and crying. However, an excessive amount of gas may point to incomplete digestion of food due to newborns’ very immature digestive processes, which have not had time to build up adequate beneficial flora (probiotics) and enzymes in the gut. Bad bacteria or yeast (candida) infections can also cause excessive gassiness, flatulence and even diarrhea, which require medical attention.
Crying is simply how babies communicate a need. As such, crying occurs frequently and for any number of reasons, like hunger, discomfort, loneliness, pain, tiredness, or gassiness. With intestinal gas, you may notice baby’s face turn red, clenched fists, knees pulled up into the chest, and writhing accompanied by straining or grunting sounds. Occasional bouts of gassiness in babies are inevitable, but when the condition becomes persistent and uncomfortable a caregiver can choose from several natural remedies:
Improving your feeding technique may help prevent an infant from getting gassy.
Feed Baby on an Incline: Keep baby’s head and neck elevated above its stomach while feeding. If baby is bottle fed, tip the bottle slightly so that air can rise to the top, while milk / formula sink to completely cover the nipple.
Burp During and After Feeding: Many pediatricians suggest you burp your infant by holding him/her upright or over the shoulder midway through and after feeding since it can avert gas discomfort later on.
• Talk to a Lactation Consultant if Breastfeeding: Ensure that baby’s mouth is latching on properly and that each feeding is neither too fast nor too slow. La Leche league advises that baby should be fed in a comfortable position. Contact a lactation consultant or La Leche League for support.
• Use the Right Bottle and Formula if Bottle Feeding: The best kind of bottle will have a soft nipple that contours along baby’s mouth and lips thus preventing air from flowing along with the milk/formula.
Simethicone is a synthetic drug that is marketed as an anti-flatulent remedy for gas relief. Simethicone is a defoaming agent that binds gas bubbles together on theory that they can be more easily burped out. Several clinical studies have confirmed what many pediatricians already know, namely that simethicone is often ineffective.
Tummy Calm® are the first and only FDA-regulated, homeopathic gas relief drops. An over-the-counter alternative to synthetic gas drops, Tummy Calm uses proven time-honored natural ingredients, providing safe and effective relief to gassy babies usually within five minutes or less. Unlike simethicone, Tummy Calm does not require constant dosing and works on gas in the intestines as well as the stomach. For more information about Tummy Calm visit here.
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