Foods That Cause Gas in Babies

Gas can cause your baby to be irritable and difficult to manage. This article tells you how you can identify the problem and provides ways to bring relief to an upset child.

By Priya Kathpal

Foods That Cause Gas in Babies

Ruchi Agarwal, a mother to a baby girl, was often confused about her baby's behaviour. Her daughter would start crying suddenly and without reason. After much thought, Ruchi consulted a doctor and it was then she found out her daughter had gas.

A new mother may struggle to know what’s making her baby upset and irritable. But it’s generally just the gas or the air in your baby’s tummy that makes him uncomfortable for a few seconds while passing the gas. Babies usually pass gas several times each day. Read more to know about the symptoms, causes and remedies for gas troubles in infants.

Symptoms:

A gassy baby may burp or fart, get fussy, bloated, may cry due to stomach cramps or have a hard tummy. Gas pain can also be identified if the infant arches his back and curls up his legs.

Causes:

1. Gentle tummy: Young kids have small and gentle tummies which can get upset very easily. Newborns experience gas pain as their intestines are not yet matured.

2. Swallowing of air: Infants swallow air when they feed on a breast or a bottle, when they suck a pacifier or even when they cry.

3. Lesser activity: Babies who are not crawling or sitting up yet, are more likely to suffer from trapped gas. Once they begin moving, the gas seems to pass more easily, relieving the child from distress.

4. Too much lactose in breast milk: This can lead to gas accumulation.

5. The introduction of formula: The infant’s digestive system takes a while to adjust to the formula and gas trouble is caused.

6. The introduction of solids: When new solid foods are introduced, babies tend to experience distress, especially with certain food groups.

It’s very important to feed nutritious foods to your child but you need to pay heed to ‘gas-producing’ foods too. Here’s a list of foods that can make the gas surface within a few hours after ingesting these foods.

  1. Beans and dried legumes
  2. Vegetables of the cruciferae family: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower
  3. Bran
  4. Oatmeal
  5. Fruits like apricots, prunes, peaches, pears, plums, apples and citrus fruits
  6. Corn
  7. Whole grains (particularly wheat)
  8. Onions

These foods are high in content of certain sugars and carbohydrates that the baby is unable to digest. This indigestible material goes to the baby’s large intestine where it is processed by the natural ‘healthy’ gut bacteria,  producing gas, their own waste product.

Remedies:

These foods may result in gas formation and need to be avoided. However, these foods also contain a lot of healthy nutrients which the child requires. We can see you are confused!

Are you worried you baby vomits after eating? There is no need to for this is perfectly normal and is known as Gastroesophageal reflux. Know all about Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) in babies by going through this article.

These simple tricks may help you get out of this fix:

Soak dried legumes for 4-8 hours or preferably overnight before cooking them. Changing the water in which the legume is soaked a few times may also help. Much of the indigestible sugar in the legumes dissolves into the water which can be drained.

While cooking broccoli, use just the florets (stems can be saved for making stock). Stems may produce more gas and the florets are more nutritious for your baby anyway!

When cooking any of these gas-producing foods, add sliced fresh ginger to the cooking water. You may even add a little ginger to the finished dish. Ginger aids digestion. Introduce it from 6 months onwards as a ‘new food’ with an already introduced food which your baby enjoys eating.

Serve gas-producing food regularly to your baby so that her body gets accustomed to processing these foods.

When introducing beans, include different varieties! A particular variety of beans may produce gas, but the variant may not cause discomfort.

 Avoid canned beans as these are not soaked and rinsed.

Make sure your little one has plenty of natural yogurt, which helps balance the healthy bacteria in his gut.

Introduce these gassy foods by 8 months when your child’s digestive system is more mature. Your baby will also be more mobile by then.

  1. During bottle-feeding or breastfeeding, ensure your feeding position is correct.
  2. Make your baby burp after each feed. If not, lay him down on his back and gently rub his tummy in a clockwise motion. Cycling on his back, with his legs in the air, may also be beneficial
  3. A warm bath may soothe him and help him get rid of tummy cramps.
  4. Fibrous fruits, vegetables and whole-grains help proper regulation of the digestive tract.
  5. Give your child boiled and cooled water and other beverages like milk, fresh fruit juices and soups, but at proper stages and in correct amounts. Fruit juice contains sorbitols (sugar alcohols) that the baby can’t absorb. So limit intake of juice.
  6. Engage your child in physical activity to ensure that his appetite and metabolism are active
  7. If you are breastfeeding, your baby could have trouble digesting some of the foods that you eat like dairy products and caffeine.
  8. Gas drops can be used after consulting a paediatrician.
  9. Feed your baby smaller volumes at frequent intervals.
  10. Keep your baby upright at an angle of 45 degrees during, and for about half-an-hour after, a feed.

These tips and tricks, along with your care, will ensure that your little one does not have any digestive troubles. However, if the symptoms persist or if your baby is in continuous distress, visit a paediatrician at once.

The author is a nutritionist and Founder of Nutrify

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