One of the best ways to help a baby sleep is by feeding them shortly before bed – but what happens if your baby is gassy? How can you feed your baby and help them sleep? This article will help – here you’ll find answers to the most common questions about how to help a gassy baby sleep at night, including ‘What is the best sleeping position for gassy baby?” and “What if my baby won’t sleep on their back?”
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Why Do Babies Get Gas?
Your baby’s digestive system is still developing. That means your baby’s tummy doesn’t always digest food efficiently, which can lead to gas. Since your baby’s stomach is teeny-tiny, even the smallest amount of gas can feel like a lot for them.
When Do Babies Have the Most Gas?
Babies tend to have more gas in their first 6 months, as their digestive systems develop. Some babies will have more gas after that, others will have less.
Other Causes of Gas in Babies:
In addition to natural digestive development, babies can become gassy if:
- They Swallow Air While Eating: Be sure your baby is latching well to a bottle or your breast to prevent your baby from taking in air with their food. If your baby is breast-feeding, you shouldn’t be able to see their tongue or your areola – if you do, your baby may swallow more air, leading to more gas.
- Fast Eating: Eating too fast can also lead to gas in babies.
- Food Sensitivities: Some breast-fed babies are more sensitive to their mothers’ diets. If you notice your baby is gassier after you’ve eaten a specific dish, try cutting that dish or food from your diet and see if that helps.
Is Gas Worse for Babies at Night?
Gas can be more uncomfortable for babies at night, yes. Gas can be worse for babies at night because they’re less active – less movement means there’s less opportunity for gas to escape on its own.
How Can I Tell If My Baby Has Gas?
Aside from two very obvious signs your baby has gas – burps and farts – there are some other, more subtle clues your baby is having digestive troubles.
- Crying with a red face
- Legs pulled to chest and/or arms tucked in, even if not crying.
- Become fussy after eating
- Trouble falling asleep after eating
- Arching their back while crying or not crying
- Visible discomfort
How to Help a Gassy Baby Sleep:
The best way to get a gassy baby to sleep is by helping them release their gas.
If one burping position doesn’t work, try another position.
If none of those options work, laying your baby on their back and bicycle their legs– they may cry and wiggle, but even that may help move the gas free.
Tip: Pacifiers are also helpful here. They don’t reduce or move gas, but pacifiers can help calm your baby enough that they fall asleep.
If nothing else works, it may be best to leave your baby and step away. They may cry for a while, but in time they may fall asleep on their own.
What is the Best Sleeping Position for Gassy Baby?
Babies under 1-year-old should always be put down on their back. This not only keeps them safest at night – but, luckily, back sleeping is also the best way for gassy babies to sleep!
What If My Gassy Baby Won’t Sleep on Their Back?
If your baby is gassy and won’t stay on their back or sleep, remove them from their crib and try to burp them again. Sometimes a little independent wiggling in the crib will move gas around inside and inspire a burp!
How Prevent Babies from Having Gas
Here are a few ways to help reduce gas in your baby:
Burp During Meals: Traditionally most of us think that burping should be done after your baby eats – and it should be – but if your baby has a lot of gas, it’s good to burp throughout the meal, too. This will eliminate gas along the way and make more room in your baby’s belly for more food.
Tip: Some babies may protest mid-meal burps – would you want to be interrupted from your meal? – but if you create a routine out of it, they may become accustomed to the pace and adapt. For example, stop feeding every five minutes to burp. Your baby may cry the first few times, but they’ll soon get the hang of it.
Paced Feeding: Your baby is growing fast and may be super enthusiastic to eat, which is great – unless fast eating leads to gas, which it can. You can prevent gas by practicing paced eating – or, simply, slowing down feeding pace. If you’re bottle-feeding, try a slow-flow bottle. If you’re breast feeding, you can control your flow of milk gently squeezing your milk ducts closed.
Let Formula Settle: Mixing or shaking formula creates oxygen bubbles that can lead to more gas in babies. You can help prevent gas by letting formula sit for a few minutes before offering it to your baby.
Switch Formulas: If your baby is formula fed and gassy, try out another formula brand to see if that helps.
Foods to Avoid When Breastfeeding, If Your Baby Has Gas
There are some foods that can increase gassiness in some babies. Again, everyone is unique, including you and your baby, but if your baby is exceptionally gassy, and you’re nursing, consider cutting out these foods:
- Spicy or hot foods
How to Burp Your Baby
There are the three popular ways to burp your baby. Whichever way you burp your baby, always remember to have a spit up cloth in place.
Over Your Shoulder: The classic style in which you rest your baby’s chin on your shoulder, support their bottom and gently pat their back until – burp!
On Your Knee: Sit your baby on your lap so they’re upright. With one hand, support their chest and head; with the other, gently pat their back.
On Your Lap: Lay your baby on your legs belly down. Support their head enough so that it’s above their chest and then pat their back. This often helps release pesky burps.
If those methods don’t work, these safe methods are also effective:
On Their Left Side: If over the shoulder doesn’t work, rest your baby in your arms on their left side – be sure to support their head! – and try burping this way.
“Bicycle Ride”: Rest your baby on their back and move their legs in a bicycle motion. This can encourage gas from the bottom of their belly up – or out the other way. Whatever works!
Tummy Time: You may know that a little bit of supervised tummy time strengthens your baby’s neck and back muscles, preparing them to sit up, but tummy time can also help relieve a baby’s gas. To burp with tummy time, simply place your baby on their belly for a few minutes – the pressure on their stomach may help move pesky gas bubbles out of your baby’s stomach, relieving painful pressure.
Tummy Massage: Similar to tummy time, but flipped, gently massaging your baby’s belly while they’re on their back can help relieve pressure and yield some gaseous relief.
When Do Babies Stop Getting Gas?
Every baby is unique, and most babies will have gas or burp for – well, forever! But, more immediately, the initial “gaseous period” typically winds down around 6-9 months.
At that point your baby’s digestive system has developed enough that it operates more efficiently and produces less gas.
Note: Babies become much better at burping after 2 months.
Can Swaddling Help with a Baby’s Gas?
Yes. If your baby is younger than 2 months, you can help them release gas by swaddling them.
In addition to applying gentle pressure to their stomach, swaddling relaxes baby, which may help them calm enough to lull them to sleep.
If they are older than 2 months, you can wrap them in a swaddle to release gas, but you must stay with them the entire time. Leaving a baby swaddled after they can roll over one way is dangerous.
Learn more about the dos and don’ts of swaddling here.
What If My Baby Falls Asleep While Nursing?
You generally want to avoid feeding our babies until they fall asleep, also known as feeding to sleep, because this can cause a sleep crutch. However, that said, sometimes babies do fall asleep while nursing, especially newborns!
So, what do you do if your baby falls asleep while nursing and you need to burp them? Simple: burp them as you normally would. Babies have an incredible capacity to sleep through a lot of activity, and it’s very possible your baby will simply burp while still sleeping!
If your baby won’t burp in their sleep and you need to burp them before bed, try to gently rouse them for a burp.
What’s the Difference Between Colic and Gas?
Gas and colic can present in many of the same ways – your baby cries, pulls their knees to their chest, or becomes red in the face, but they’re different:
Gas is the build-up of air bubbles in your baby’s digestive track.
Colic is a condition caused by – well, we actually don’t know! We do know it’s not gas, and colic does not appear to stem from physical pain. It’s just one of those mysterious experiences some babies sometimes go through between the ages of 2 weeks to 4 months.
For more answers to all of your questions about how to help your baby sleep, download the Smart Sleep Coach by Pampers™ .
“A randomized controlled trial of burping for the prevention of colic and regurgitation in healthy infants,” Child: Care, Health and Development .
“Development of the Digestive System—Experimental Challenges and Approaches of Infant Lipid Digestion,” Food Digestion.
“Digestion in the newborn,” Clinics in Perinatology
“Early-Life Gut Health Indicators and Reported Prevalence of Infant Functional Constipation by Healthcare Professionals,” Nutrients.
How We Wrote This Article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.