By Caroline Shannon-Karasik
It’s a sweet idea to believe that your babies will begin wailing and mom instinct will lead you in the direction of a soothing response. But let’s be honest: sometimes deciphering a baby’s cry can be a tricky little beast. After you’ve checked her diaper, offered a bottle or boob, and bounced yourself silly, you begin to run through other options, like teething, hangnails, and even illness. Then, of course, gas could always be the reason behind her clenched fists and stiff legs. But how do you know if your baby is in pain from gas?
"All babies produce gas because they swallow air when they are feeding and crying, and their digestive symptoms are still immature," says Dr. Emily Edwards, a pediatrician at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills, California, in an email interview with Romper. "However, if it is bothering them, you may notice them crying more after feeds, squirming or becoming tense, and hearing audible digestive sounds from their tummies. If you notice these symptoms improve after they pass gas, then gas was likely the culprit."
Dr. Marnie Baker, a pediatrician at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, tells Romper that other signs that point to gas include facial wincing, and drawing the legs to the chest, and then kicking them back out.
Worried you'll confuse gas pains with something else? That's common, according to Dr. Daniel Ganjian, a pediatrician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. He tells Romper it can be easy to confuse gas pain with colic or other causes of unhappiness. But the good news is you don’t have to be a super sleuth to figure it out. Ganjian recommends trying a few tricks, like holding the baby with one arm while facing him away from you with your arm on his stomach. He says to walk with your baby in this position to see if the increased pressure on his stomach helps the gas come out.
Edwards agreed, adding that tummy time and bicycling a baby’s legs are also helpful in relieving gas pain. Calming techniques, like a “gentle but firm” massage or bath can also be soothing, Baker said.
"And if it’s still not better, see your pediatrician immediately to ensure it is not something more serious," Ganjian says.
The good news? Edwards says that infants grow out of their gassiness.
Now if they would just grow out of their waking-up-in-the-wee-hours-of-the-morning-ness, then you would be set.