Should You Give Gas Drops to Your Baby?

Gas drops are generally considered safe for babies, including newborns, but there are some things you should know before giving them to your little one.

Mom giving medicine to a crying infant

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Excessive gas isn't harmful to your baby, but when you're awake at 3 a.m. trying to soothe your uncomfortable newborn back to sleep, it's going to feel a lot like a crisis situation. If you're looking for a magic bullet that will break up those gas bubbles and calm your baby's tummy, you might reach for a bottle of infant gas drops; after all, they're supposed to start working in just a few minutes.

But are these gas drops actually safe for your baby? Experts explain how gas drops work and give their recommendations about using them for babies of all ages.

What Are Gas Drops?

Most over-the-counter (OTC) gas drops contain an ingredient called simethicone, which works by breaking up large gas bubbles in the gut into smaller bubbles, says Amanda Stovall, M.D., a pediatrician with Springfield Clinic in Springfield, Illinois. This helps the body expel the excess gas, she explains, and prevents gas pockets that can cause bloating and discomfort from forming in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

There are some OTC gas drops that don't contain simethicone. Lauren Crosby, M.D., FAAP, a pediatrician in Los Angeles, says she often recommends probiotic gas drops like TruBiotics Baby Drops, which support the baby's digestive system and immune health by increasing the good bacteria in the gut.

Finally, there are homeopathic gas drops, made with various herbal ingredients, but whether or not these are safe for your baby is debated among pediatricians. (Herbal supplements, in general, aren't recommended for children, and there isn't a strong body of evidence showing they actually provide relief.)

Are Gas Drops Safe for Newborns?

Simethicone gas drops are generally considered safe for all babies, including newborns, though maybe not the day after you bring your baby home from the hospital. "I typically tell parents to wait until their newborn is 2 weeks old," explains Dr. Crosby.

If your baby is under 2 weeks old or you're otherwise worried about giving them gas drops, there are other things you can try to relieve gas and prevent it from building up in the first place, says Dr. Stovall:

  • Keep a food journal if you breastfeed or chestfeed, so you can see if your baby tends to be more gassy after you eat certain foods.
  • If your baby is on formula, wait a few minutes after mixing it up to let it settle; mixing powder formula with water can create a layer of foam, which can add to the amount of gas they take in with each feeding.
  • Use a slow-flow nipple or take breaks during feedings if your baby is a fast feeder.
  • Bicycle your baby's legs when you think they have gas; this keeps things moving in the GI tract.
  • Hold your baby in a football position, belly down, and apply slight pressure to the abdomen (sort of like burping them on their belly!).

When Should I Give My Baby Gas Drops?

If your baby is fussy and you're thinking about giving them gas drops, look for signs of gas-related discomfort first.

"Arching of the back, pulling the legs up during and after feeding, and lots of crying are signs your baby is getting excess gas from feedings," explains Dr. Crosby. "Some babies cry a lot, then pass gas and feel better, which is another sign of a gas issue."

As for dosage and timing of your baby's gas drops, it's always a good idea to check with your child's health care provider if you've never given them gas drops before. But gas drops can be administered up to 12 times daily, says Dr. Crosby, who recommends using them at feeding time.

Do Gas Drops Really Work?

They might! It depends on your baby, and also on whether their discomfort is truly caused by gas or something else. Dr. Stovall says some people find that gas drops are very helpful for their baby, while others don't notice much of a difference.

And while gas drops are generally safe (even if your baby doesn't have gas, in most cases giving them gas drops won't harm them), it's a good idea to try getting to the root of the problem, if you can.

"It's important to consider the whole picture, including the age of your baby, so if your baby is exceptionally fussy in a way that's out of the normal for your child, and less than 3 months old, it's a good idea to be seen by your pediatrician," suggests Dr. Stovall.

It's also important to recognize signs of illness versus signs of gassiness in your baby. According to Dr. Stovall, gas and constipation aren't associated with fever in infants, so that could be a warning sign of illness. Likewise, if your baby has a distended belly or is having strange bowel movements (blood in the stool, for example), they should be seen by their pediatrician.

Can Gas Relief Drops Help Babies Poop?

No, simethicone gas drops aren't intended to relieve constipation, and Dr. Stovall says they don't usually affect a baby's stooling frequency or consistency.

If you think your baby is constipated, pay close attention to their stool; just because they haven't had a bowel movement in several days, it doesn't necessarily mean they're constipated.

"If the stool is soft, they are not constipated," says Dr. Stovall. "Breastfed babies can go six to seven days between having bowel movements, and this can be normal as long as they continue to feed well and the stool is soft."

Hard stool, on the other hand, may indicate constipation. If your baby is old enough, Dr. Stovell says a few ounces of apple or pear juice may help. If your baby isn't taking solids yet, she recommends talking to your child's health care provider for next steps.

Where To Get Gas Drops for Babies

Popular brands of simethicone gas drops include Little Remedies, Mylicon, and Mommy's Bliss. These and many other types of drops are available at pharmacies and big box stores, as well as online at those retailers and on Amazon.

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