What Foods Cause Gas in Breastfed Babies? 

If your breastfed baby is fussy or squirmy after feeding, they might have gas from something in your diet. Here are some foods that can make your little one gassy. 

Fussy baby with gas after breastfeeding
Photo: Getty Images

Breastfed babies receive many benefits when they nurse—including all the nutrients they need during the first few months of life, powerful antibodies to fight against diseases, and a nurturing bond with their breastfeeding parent. But they also might be getting something less advantageous: gas.

Nursing infants can get gassy if they eat too quickly or swallow too much air while feeding, but the culprit could also be your diet. "It's possible that some of the gas-inducing foods that mom ingests can also affect her baby," 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.

If your breast milk is "gassier" than usual, it could start to surface in your infant within two hours of their last feeding. Symptoms of gas in babies include fussiness, trouble sleeping or eating, squirming, and pulling their legs up to their chest, especially while crying. They may also have a bloated appearance or a hard tummy. And of course, burping and passing gas are also signs that your baby is suffering from the issue.

Here are some gas-causing foods that might give you—and your baby—a little extra air. We also share some tips for relieving the discomfort.

Foods That Might Cause Gas in Breastfed Babies

While most foods will not cause gastrointestinal issues in the average breastfed baby, certain items may indeed disturb their developing digestive system. So how do you identify the gas-causing food in your diet? As it turns out, it's not always easy.

"It may take up to two or three days for food to be completely out of your system," says Dr. Shu. "So, think back to what you've eaten over the last 72 hours to see if you can pinpoint a particularly gas-inducing food." You can even keep a log of what you eat to identify patterns between your diet and baby's mood.

Here are some common foods that cause gas in babies.

  • Fiber-rich foods, especially ones that contain bran
  • Most fruits—particularly apricots, prunes, peaches, pears, plums, and citrus
  • Vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, artichokes, asparagus, cauliflower, onions, and garlic
  • Starches such as potatoes, corn, and pasta
  • Dairy products—especially any foods containing cow's milk protein
  • Chocolate

Beverages may be to blame as well. Regular coffee drinkers probably already know how it affects their digestive system, but consider drinking coffee in moderation if you think it's disagreeing with your baby. And carbonated beverages are filled with air bubbles that you're basically gulping by the mouthful. This air needs to find its release—one way or another.

Should You Eliminate Gassy Food While Breastfeeding?

"I have found that restricting the diet and lifestyles of nursing moms is one of the reasons why moms stop nursing," says Ari Brown, M.D., an Austin-based pediatrician and the author of Baby 411. "So I really try to only limit foods if there is a true, direct association with a certain food and a certain response in the baby."

Also, a limited diet might not be ideal for the body of a nursing parent. Breast milk production takes a lot out of the body, and a balanced diet can help replenish what's been lost. And given the long list of gas-producing foods, you'd be hard-pressed to create a balanced meal without adding some of the top offenders to your plate.

It's worth repeating that babies suck in a lot of air and produce plenty of gas all on their own, without the help of your milk. "Even if a mom changes her diet, it might not help with the baby's gas," says Dr. Shu. "I've had some moms eat only chicken and water and it doesn't help. It's usually not necessary to go to those kinds of extremes." Parents might want to see a lactation consultant to help evaluate their baby's latch to see if that's part of the issue.

To relieve gassiness in your baby, try the following solutions:

  • Lay your baby on their back, and gently rotate their legs like they're riding a bicycle. This helps loosen trapped gas in the digestive tract.
  • Make sure they have a good latch during nursing to avoid swallowing too much air, and burp them frequently during and after feedings.
  • Practice tummy time. Pressure on the abdomen may help break up gas bubbles and aid digestion.
  • Massage your baby's tummy.
  • Ask your doctor about trying over-the-counter gas drops.

Remember that gassiness is common in babies for the first few months of their lives, but talk to your child's pediatrician if their symptoms seem severe. Crying or discomfort for more than a few hours each day may be a sign that your little one is suffering from something more serious than gas.

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