Gases in the baby: How to differentiate gas, colic, and reflux in babies

Our baby is uncomfortable, squirms, and flips a lot. Most likely, you will suffer from gas, a common disease in newborns. We explain how to prevent them and how to help you expel them to alleviate their discomfort.

Causes of gas in babies

Everyone, to a greater or lesser extent, has gases. However, without a doubt, babies suffer more because their digestive system is newly released, and it is still not able to process its main food well in the first months, milk, whether maternal or formula. It is also advisable to be careful once you start a solid diet.

For all this, it is convenient to know the most common factors that generate gas in babies and identify which ones cause them in your little one to remedy them:

  • He is not getting the air out well after feedings. Our baby must burp after ingesting his milk, either from the breast – in which case he will do it between one and the other – or from a bottle.
  • Poor sucking posture: the baby swallows a lot of air while eating because the mouth is not completely closed around the nipple or teat
  • Infant colic: if your baby suffers from them, they will cause prolonged crying spells, which will make him swallow air and be more prone to gas.
  • Dairy intolerances: the difficult digestion of lactose, proteins, and other nutrients present in breast milk or formula. This intolerance is accompanied by abundant and highly acidic stools, cramps, and crying.
  • CMA: Some infants may be allergic to cow’s milk protein (CMA) and have intestinal difficulties. In these cases, the mother has to stop taking dairy or, if she takes a bottle, she has to resort to special formulas.
  • The introduction of solid foods can cause small eating disorders and gas as the baby gets used to his new diet. In this sense, it is important to avoid flatulent vegetables such as broccoli or cauliflower in their purees until they are a little older, around eight months.

How to differentiate gas, colic, and reflux in babies

In very young babies, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish whether it suffers from the famous infant colic, gastroesophageal reflux or simply gas, or any of these three ailments combined. We explain the main differences between them:

Infant colic: between fifteen days and four months of life, it is very common for the baby to cry inconsolably, generally in the afternoon-night, a plaid that can last from minutes to several hours. If this pattern repeats itself for at least three hours a day, three days a week, and at least three weeks, we are facing the famous and mysterious infant colic of still unknown origin and without a proven remedy – beyond patience. So much crying and grief will most likely cause the baby to swallow air, so it is advisable to take the appropriate measures to comfort him.

Gastroesophageal reflux: almost all babies expel some milk – spit up – after feedings, a habit that tends to disappear after the year. However, sometimes this reflex is accompanied by other symptoms that can be mistaken for gas: the baby arches his back during or just after feeding, does not have much appetite, or is irritated when he has finished eating: this is a type of reflux, called gastroesophageal, more serious and lasting that will have to be diagnosed and treated by a pediatrician.

Gases: it is nothing more than air that enters or is produced in our body and that it is necessary to expel, in the case of babies, with frequent burps or pedestals and very little modesty! If a baby has gases, he will not want to continue eating; he will shake his legs, twist, and cry. If, after expelling him from above or below, he relaxes, that was the origin of his discomfort.

However, suppose we observe that the problem persists and we are not clear about its origin. In that case, it is best to go to the pediatrician to rule out possible pathologies, food intolerances, or allergies. 

How to prevent gas in the baby

For a baby to erect or stand is not only normal but also necessary for its proper development. Sometimes, however, you get more gas than normal, your intestinal tract generates too much, or the baby passes less than it should, making you uncomfortable. To prevent this excess gas in the baby or its discomfort, we can take the following measures:

Adopt a good breastfeeding posture: the baby should latch onto the breast with the mouth wide open, the lips turned out, and the chin and nose touching the breast. Also, it should not be too shrunk but stretched. Let him suck calmly and empty his breast before moving on to the other.

Keep an eye on the nipple of the bottle: if you take a bottle, make sure that the hole in the nipple is neither too small, or the baby will have a hard time sucking and swallowing air, nor too large, which will cause him to eat too quickly. Also, the market offers a wide range of bottles specially designed to avoid or reduce gas; ask your pharmacy that they will surely know how to advise you among the different existing models.

Help him pass gas: once the baby has eaten, he has to burp. To do this, place it on your back, with your chin resting on your shoulder, and gently pat it with your somewhat hollow hand. This is usually the most common posture for airborne. However, you can also put the babysitter on your lap, held in front with one hand, while with the other, we pat him on the back. Another possibility is to leave him face down, lifting his head so that it is higher than his chest, and insist on the slaps.

Relaxed feeding: the baby has to eat calmly, without craving or crying, swallowing calmly. It is better to eat often, if requested than to be very strict with your feeding times. Also, keep it upright for a while after eating.

Anti-colic baths: These bathtubs, tall and circular, in which the baby is upright with the legs bent, are also useful in the first five to six months to prevent gas in the newborn.

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