The ABC's of Infant Sleep-Gas!


As Certified Postpartum and Infant Care Doulas, one of the most common questions we get when we are in our clients homes (or via text or phone call because that's an unlimited perk for everyone we work with!) is "do you think our baby has gas?"

We know when gas bubbles get stuck in our baby's belly they become uncomfortable and upset while trying to work it out. There are things you can do to help work the gas bubbles out, reduce the chance of getting them and determine if what they are experiencing is indeed from painful toots that need to move on out of there!

As an experienced postpartum doula with thousands of hours of in-home support, when I am asked if I think their baby is fussy due to gas, I always start with the same questions.

  • When is the last time they ate?

  • Did you get some good burps out of them?

  • When is the last time they had a dirty diaper?

  • How is the flow of baby's milk during feedings?

  • Are they passing gas as they are fussing?

If they tell me that baby just ate within the last little bit, but they didn't get a burp out, I'd suggest trying a couple different positions to see if they can get out one or two.

Laying your baby down and working their legs in a bicycle motion or frog legs is not only cute, it can be just what they need. Try this for a few minutes then let them relax. If your baby is young enough, swaddle them up real tight, turn some white noise on, creating an environment that will allow them to relax and see what they do next.

If they calm down and succumb to that beautiful thing we call sleep then start moving and grunting around again, this is not to be discouraging, but encouraging because they are working that air through. At this point I pick them up and try to burp them again then maybe some frog legs for a second time if there was no success in any release of gas.

Sometimes it can be a process, and a memory we only share with our babies, as we do a midnight dance, messy bun and all 'just because' our baby finally farted!

After I talk to clients on what they can do to help their baby's pass that uncomfortable air stuck in their belly, we talk a little bit about ways to prevent it. Now baby's stomach size is rapidly changing in the first couple weeks of life and their digestion is continuously developing, so avoiding gas altogether may not be possible. But, there are definitely things we can do to not add to it.

Here are some tips to help you reduce the risk of a tummy filled with bubbles.

1. Note how fast the flow of the milk is for them during feedings. Whether, breast or bottle fed, if the flow is fast and your baby is gulping quickly to keep up, this can cause gas during digestion that could possibly be avoided. If bottle feeding, stick with a slow flow nipple until baby needs to move up to the next level.

2. Allow them the chance to pace themselves while feeding and to take breaks throughout. Paced bottle feeding will help stretch out the feeding so they don't have too much milk too fast.

3. Try burping baby half way through the feeding and then after they have finished. Some babies will need to be burped more often. If during a feeding your baby tries to suck then refuses and starts grunting and wiggling around, sit them up for a break and try to get a burp out. Often times, when babies have to burp or poop, they may latch and unlatch, fussing around at the bottle nipple or your breast. When they do this, they often look like they can't or are refusing to latch and parents can think they either aren't getting anything at the breast or won't take a bottle now.

4. Listen and watch them after you have worked to get a burp out and laid them down. If they start to wriggle and grunt around, pick them back up and try to burp them again. Often times if they wouldn't burp after immediately finishing their meal, they work it up and almost out after being laid down and your pats can help move the air the rest of the way!

So how do you know if your baby is dealing with gas?

Ask yourself those questions I ask our clients and start your detective work from there. Eliminate the possibilities listed that don't fit for your baby or give us a call and we will happily walk you through some ideas as well!

We know this experience is new and there can be a lot of things you are unsure of in those early days with your fresh baby living in your home.

We get this!

We've been there!

Helping you thrive rather than survive during this time is exactly what we come to you for. Contact WCD to speak to a Postpartum & Infant Care Doula before you need her!

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