Foods That Cause Gas in Babies

If you have a gassy baby, you may want to look at what you've been feeding them. Here's how to pinpoint gas-inducing foods and relieve your little one's discomfort.

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All babies experience gas from time to time, and there’s some concrete reasons for this. For example, babies tend to swallow excess air when crying or nursing. Infants also struggle to burp on their own, which means the swallowed air is more likely to get trapped and travel down the digestive tract. Also, infants naturally have an immature gastrointestinal system; this causes some babies to be more sensitive to gas, which is a normal byproduct of food digestion.

But if your little one is constantly gassy—especially following a meal —certain foods may contribute. This can be true for both bottle-fed and breastfed babies, since nursing infants are affected by what their parent consumes, as well as those eating solids. Keep reading to learn which foods might make babies gassy, with expert-approved tips for relieving the discomfort. 

Is My Baby’s Diet Making Them Gassy?

So how do you know if your baby’s gassiness is linked to their diet? "If your baby's last meal is truly to blame, then you can expect that gas to surface within a couple of hours of ingesting the gas-inducing food," says Jennifer Shu, M.D., an Atlanta-based pediatrician and coauthor of Food Fights: Winning The Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed with Insight, Humor, and A Bottle of Ketchup. "And it may take up to two or three days for the food to be completely out of your baby's system."

You might notice some telltale signs of gassiness in your little one—though gas is typically not painful for infants. “A trapped burp may show up as the baby stretching their torso to try to relieve the gas," says Aubrey Phelps, a registered pediatric dietitian and lactation counselor. "Babies may also grunt or bear down with gas in an attempt to pass it."

Which Foods Cause Gas in Babies? 

Many of the same foods that tend to cause gassiness in adults can also be the culprit when it comes to your baby’s digestive problems. Foods more likely to contribute to gassiness include:

  • Carbohydrates found in wheat
  • Beans
  • Onions
  • Some stone fruits high in sorbitol like prunes, peaches, and apricots
  • Some fruits high in fructose like apples and pears
  • Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts
  • Dairy products

But remember that while some foods tend to cause excess gas, it's not usually the food’s fault. Babies eat around the clock and their bowels are constantly at work—and where there's poop, there's naturally gas. 

Should You Eliminate Gas-Inducing Foods from Your Baby’s Diet? 

It's understandable if you want to strike certain foods from your baby's diet (and yours, if you’re nursing) in hopes of eliminating gas.  "We've seen parents cut foods entirely to combat a perceived gas problem,” says Dr. Shu. But most experts actually advise against this; cutting out food items won't necessarily cure the gassiness, and diet restrictions will also limit your baby's nutrition.

"Nutrient and fiber-rich foods are the best foods to choose to keep your baby's poop soft and regular," says Ari Brown, M.D., an Austin, TX-based pediatrician and the author of Baby 411. If you’re low in nutrient-rich foods, you run the risk of constipation, which is a much bigger problem to deal with than gas.

Also, "by limiting the menu, you're taking some of the fun out of mealtime," says Dr. Shu. After starting solids, food exploration is a big deal, and it's exciting to watch babies discover new mealtime options. The introduction of solid foods alone will put your baby's digestive system to work, and more gas is often just par for the course—and a completely normal side effect of reaching this milestone.

That said, if the gassiness is causing severe discomfort, the benefits of food elimination might outweigh the negative implications. Talk to your child’s health care provider to develop a plan for your family. 

How to Alleviate Gas in Babies

If your baby is gassy, it's no reason to be worried—gas itself is not a problem. But if the gas is causing discomfort, Phelps suggests trying these tips for relieving it.

  • Tummy massage. Gently massage your baby’s stomach, focusing on the lower quadrants (below the belly button). 
  • Bicycling the legs. Lay your baby on their back and move their legs as if they were pedaling a bike. 
  • Tummy time. Place your baby on their tummy with some favorite toys for a natural way to relieve gas.
  • Increased burping. If you burp your baby more often, you might release more trapped gas.
  • Try a different bottle or nipple. If you're bottle-feeding, try out different bottles and nipple sizes. This can change the flow of the formula, which might help decrease the amount of air swallowed.
  • Probiotics. Probiotic drops may help reduce gas and colic in babies, and they can be taken from birth—though the benefits aren't supported by any evidence. Ask your doctor before giving any supplement to your baby.
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