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Gas Pain in Infants and Newborns

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Infant Gas?

  • Burping and Belching

    Burping is a 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 your baby hiccups, burps, belches or spits up excessively, it may indicate that too much air is being swallowed during feeding.

  • Bloating

    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. A baby’s immature digestive system may be unable to cope effectively and some babies may experience painful cramps.

  • Excessive Fussiness

    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.

    According to the “Dunstan Baby Language” system, a baby will cry out with an “Eh” sound if gas is trapped in the stomach and needs to burp, whereas an “Eairh” crying sound will be uttered if gas is trapped in the intestines. Though not scientific, this system or language may be helpful for some parents.

    Parents tend to describe a gas cry as sharper and more acute as if a baby is in pain. With intestinal gas, you may notice your baby’s face turn red, fists clench, knees pull up into the chest, or straining and grunting sounds.

    If your baby cries for three or more hours per day and at least three times per week he or she may have colic.

  • Spitting Up

    Spitting up is common in babies and can be normal. Most babies spit up, and it is often accompanied by a burp, during or soon after a baby’s feeding. However, sometimes it can be due to the type of formula, particles in breastmilk, eating too much or too fast, or it can be associated with gas build-up.

  • Flatulence

    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 a newborns’ very immature digestive processes, which have not had time to build up adequate beneficial flora (probiotics) and enzymes in the gut. Bad bacteria, viruses and other infections can also cause excessive gassiness, flatulence and even diarrhea. These infections may require medical attention.

  • Restlessness or Insomnia

    Any form of discomfort will make it more difficult for baby to sleep…likewise for concerned parents.