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Ages & Stages

Breaking Up Gas

We are big believers that there’s really no need for parents to pay a high price in exchange for less gas. That said, if you find yourself going head to head with your baby’s gas, there are several things you can reasonably do to try and remedy the situation—only some of which have anything to do with eating. We simply suggest that you do so with only modest expectations, since breaking up gas is definitely hard to do.

Find Foods at Fault

Although there are definitely some foods that are more suspect than others, identifying which ones they are in a breastfeeding mother’s diet is often easier said than done. While it is certainly worth paying attention to whether or not a certain food or drink clearly causes your baby distress, just remember that food is not the only cause for gas. Be sure not to randomly remove so many foods that you leave yourself with very little on your plate.

Formula for Success

Especially in a baby’s early formula-drinking days, either consider holding off on mixing up powdered formula for the time being and use concentrated or ready-to-feed formula instead, or let your freshly mixed powdered formula settle before serving. The more mixing and shaking involved, the more air bubbles get into the mix—resulting in more swallowed air and potentially more gas. Be sure to discuss any formula changes with your pediatrician. When an abundance of gas is involved, trying a different formula may well be just what your doctor orders.

Slow the Flow

Help your baby swallow less air by slowing the flow of liquids from his bottle into his mouth. Trial and error with different bottles and nipples tends to be the best approach.

Clear the Air

If your baby’s gas issues leave you wanting to better clear the air while bottle-feeding, also look for bottles (such as those that are vented, angled, or collapsible) meant specifically to keep babies from swallowing extra air while drinking.

Keep Things on the Up and Up

Try stepping up your burping efforts by burping during, as well as after, each feeding. Just be forewarned—some babies don’t take at all kindly to this sort of rude interruption.

Pump Your Own Gas

You can help get rid of unwanted gas by simply laying your baby flat on his back and moving his legs in a bicycling motion. Better yet—give him some tummy time. This not only can help keep his head from becoming flat while strengthening his upper body, but can put a lot of pressure on any gas that’s thinking about settling in to be on its way out instead.

Burst Their Bubbles

While there currently seems to be no inherent harm in reaching for a bottle of gas drops to break up your baby’s gas, the best tip we have for you is that we’ve been told you can get your money back from either the manufacturer or the pharmacy if you find they don’t work! Simethicone gas drops (such as Mylicon, Little Tummys gas relief drops, and Phazyme) are thought to be safe to give—as often as 12 times a day, if necessary—and many parents do just that. But at approximately $12 per 1-ounce (30 mL) bottle, they’re not exactly cheap. And studies suggest that they’re not that effective either.

Laura A. Jana, MD, FAAP and Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP
Last Updated
Food Fights, 2nd Edition (Copyright © 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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