Things to give to new parents: smart books. Awesome things to give to new parents: books about how babies eat and poop. What and how babies eat and how they fart and poop (and sleep) are basically all new parents think about. I’m not exaggerating — of course the most emotional part of new parenthood is the love and overwhelm that takes us over. But second to it is what the baby eats and how they poop. Period.
I’m standing on my chair clapping as I tell you that Dr. Bryan Vartabedian recently published a new book: Looking Out for Number Two. A candidly written, humorous, scientifically-backed poo bible. It’s an illuminating look into every parent’s secret obsession – their baby’s poop. I am thankful, both as a mom and pediatrician for his sound advice and expertise. Poop is a big topic in almost every well baby exam and I’ve written about it several times (see below). But I haven’t dedicated a post to something so many parents worry about and search for remedies: gas.
Most babies are naturally gassy, but it can be quite painful (obviously) and lead to lots of screaming and thrashing about. Signs that your baby has gas are: crying, pulling their legs into their bellies, wiggling & hard belly.
Where Does Gas Come From:
There are only 2 sources of gas for your baby: swallowed air and gas made by bacteria in their intestines. You can strategically think of working on both sources when supporting your super farty baby. You will never make all the farts go away (my 9 year-old told me recently that the average person farts upwards of 30 times a day — unsure his source!!) but you may be able to improve the amount your baby makes with a few tweaks.
- Swallowed air can sometimes come from:
- A bad breastfeeding latch (for all sorts of reasons — if your baby is a really loud eater or sloppy eater, perhaps check in with your pediatrician or a lactation specialist)
- Incorrect nipple flow (either too fast or too slow)
- Bad positioning during feeding (work on switching up how you hold your baby and see if it makes a difference)
- Shaken/frothy formula (don’t shake the formula in the bottle too much after mixing)
- Screaming/crying (swallowing air when gasping between freaking out)
- Lack of burping when a baby love to let that gas go from the top!
Lots os parents reach for OTC meds for their babies gas. Most of time the meds and waters and supplements do NOTHING. I love what Dr. V says in the book,
The old standby in the battle against gas is simethicone. Simethicone is a compound that’s supposed to work by taking small bubbles and making them into big bubbles that are theoretically easier to pass. As the logic goes, it’s easier to move a consolidated, well-formed fart than a stream of ill-defined foam. However, studies show that it effectively does ZILCH. ~Dr. Vartabedian
Ways To Help Reduce Gas:
Likely nothing new here but just in case…
- Bicycle kicks: lay baby on their back and move the legs in an up-and-down pedaling motion.
- Warm bath. Relaxing for your baby and maybe their discomfort.
- Burp them often during feedings and after feedings and in different positions.
- If bottle feeding, try adjusting the flow of the nipple you are offering. Too slow and baby might be working too hard to suck and gulp air, too fast and she might be gasping/choking.
- If breast feeding, check to see if your milk is letting down too quickly, making it hard for baby to keep up with the supply.
- If baby is drinking formula, try to let the bubbles in the formula settle before you offer it in the bottle. Try swirling the formula and water together with a spoon instead of shaking rapidly.
- Gentle tummy massage. Yum.
- Hold your baby on their tummy to apply a little pressure.
- Consider using a probiotic. “Probiotics are bugs with benefits. Here are four probiotic power strains with a long track record of safety and success: Bifodobacteria, Lactobacillus Reuteri, Lactobacillus GG, Saccharomyces Boulardii.” ~Dr. Vartebedian
With gas, also comes poop questions…so here’s a little bit on that…
- Poop can look different each day depending on what your child intakes. Only colors it can’t be? White, red, or black. All those smatterings of brown and green and yellow and orange are good.
- Baby and toddler poop can be as thick as peanut butter or mushier, like cottage cheese or yogurt. Food comparisons are gross but let’s face it, they are helpful, too.
- Breast-milk poop usually looks like fancy French mustard: yellow, seedy, or curdy. Formula poop tends to resemble beat-up flan or pudding.
- After about 6 months of age, more than four poops a day might be “too many,” and less than one a week for a breastfed infant or less than one a day for children over age 2 might be “too few.” If you’re worried, don’t wait – ask your baby’s doctor.
- Here’s a feature article I wrote for Parents Magazine on poop: The Scoop On Poop: What’s Normal, What’s Not
- Getting Rid Of Constipation — a how-to help on constipation, an overview of OTC meds, and what to do about it.