Gas problems are typical in babies whose digestive systems are still developing. If your new born is having difficulties sleeping due to gas pains, you may be wondering if there are any unique sleeping positions that can help calm or prevent a disturbed stomach.
So, what's the best way to put a gassy baby to sleep? All babies (including gassy ones) should be placed to sleep on their backs until they reach one year old, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), as this is the safest sleeping position. That said, there are steps you can take to get ahead of your little one’s gas troubles, so they’ll sleep soundly through the night. Find out more below.
What does it mean if my baby is gassy?
Simply put, a gassy baby is a typical baby.
The digestive systems of new borns and babies under the age of six months are still developing. This means that food may not always be fully broken down, resulting in gas and/or trapped air in the stomach and/or intestines. Babies' tummies are so little that excess air can readily fill them up, causing pain and pressure.
What's the good news? Usually, the soreness is just temporary. It dissipates, just like gas.
Signs You Have a Gassy Baby
So, how can you determine if your baby’s discomfort is because of gas? If your new born burps or passes wind a lot, you'll know they are having gas problems. Your little one may be experiencing gas-related discomfort if they:
- Become red in the face while crying
- Wriggle and pull their legs up to their chest
- Act increasingly fussy after feeding
- Have trouble eating or sleeping
Causes Of Gas In Babies
The majority of a baby's gas discomfort will be caused by their still-developing stomach and intestines. However, if their gas problems seem to be getting worse, there could be a number of other factors at play, including:
Swallowing while sipping - Your baby is most likely a fan of the breast or bottle. What's the drawback? With those enormous gulps, your little one might be taking in some additional air, and extra air creates extra gas.
If you're breastfeeding, look for evidence that your baby is properly latching on to your breast and forming a seal around your nipple (you shouldn't see your areolas or the baby’s tongue).
If you can’t pinpoint any other causes for your baby’s discomfort, it might be worthwhile to look at your diet and consider limiting potentially aggravating foods and drinks, such as:
- Caffeinated sodas
“Back is best” sleep position – Parenthood is magical, yes. But it can also be a little bit maddening, especially when the thing that you’re told you must do is also the very thing that’s causing your baby discomfort. This is so often the case with back sleeping. Though the AAP states black-sleeping is essential for your baby’s safety, this sleep position may also lead to trapped intestinal gas for some babies.
While your baby’s gas may feel stressful, it may help to remember it won’t last forever. At around six to nine months of age, your baby’s digestive system will mature. Until then, there are steps you can take to treat their tummy and set them up for nights of back-sleeping bliss.
How to Prevent and Treat a Gassy Baby
Let's look at the best strategies to avoid and treat gas in babies.
- Feeding your baby in more of an upright position – This will help to reduce unnecessary air intake and prevent the production of additional gas.
- Burp your baby before, during, and after feeding – Burping your baby helps their digestive system mature and keep things moving properly. Pat their back gently in the middle of their meal to assist in the release of any air they have ingested while eating. If your little one hasn't eaten in a while, they might be signalling that it’s time to burp.
- Pay attention to hunger cues – When your baby has gone too long without a good meal, they, like us, might get irritable. Look for hunger indicators, such as placing the fingers in their mouth or sucking with their tongue.
Treating Gas Pain
Try these tummy-soothing remedies to stop gas discomfort in its tracks (and avoid restless nights):
- Tummy Time – You can engage your little one in supervised "tummy time" by placing them on the floor on their stomach thirty minutes after eating (to avoid spitting up). The floor's pressure on their belly will aid in the release of any trapped gas.
- Bicycles — Your child may be too young for training wheels, but "baby bicycles" may be just the thing to get your baby on the path to a healthy tummy. Lie your baby down on their back and cycle their legs toward their stomach.
- Massage – Who doesn't enjoy a day at the spa? To ease gas discomfort, give your baby a gentle massage. Gently stroking the tummy in a clockwise direction, in particular, will aid in the expulsion of gas. It may also assist in lulling your baby into sleepy time mode.
Gassy Babies and Sleep
While the best sleep position for a gassy baby is still on their back, sometimes, gas pains make it harder for your little one to sleep. If this is the case, you may find that swaddling your baby before bedtime will keep them warm and comfortable during the night, as well as reduce any discomfort.
If your baby has fallen asleep while nursing, you're likely to face the following dilemma: You want to burp your baby before putting them down to avoid any gas bubbles, but you don't want to rouse them from their sleep.
If this is the case, use the following strategies to help release any trapped air before laying your baby down on her back:
- Prop baby up – Hold your baby semi-upright against your chest, so that their head can rest on your shoulder. Your body should provide enough pressure on their tummy to encourage a burp.
- Rock baby back and forth – Place their belly down over your arm so that their legs dangle on either side and their head is supported in the crook of your elbow. Then, gently move your arm from side to side while you pat their back.
- Lay baby down – Lay your baby belly down over your lap so that their stomach is on your knees. Then, rock them by moving your legs side to side and gently rubbing their back.
And remember, you got this!