With every baby comes the problem of gas, and gas-related pains. For some babies these pains come only once in a great while, for others they are a regular part of their eating and sleeping routine. Gas pains can be identified by a few basic signs like squirming while asleep, sudden crying out (for no apparent reason when you know they shouldn't be hungry yet, and their diaper is clean), pushing the legs straight and stiff, and grunts which end in cries.
Some parents have had success using homeopathic gas remedies, but I have found that their effect is very small if detectable at all and much too expensive to be feasible for daily use. Also, one should be careful with gas drops because they work by consolidating all of the small bubbles in your babies tummy which encourage the gas to be expelled in one big burp rather than traveling through the digestive system. This doesn't always work as planned, if your baby does not burp after a feeding despite gas drops being used the resulting gas pains will be a lot worse than they would have been without them. Gripe water is often a better assistant, but many babies do not respond to it either. These tips and tricks are a few quick easy things you can do to help relieve your baby's discomfort from gas pains.
1. Prop your babies feet up an inch or two while they are sleeping.
This position reduces pressure on the abdomen, and as a result your baby will strain less when pushing to expel gas or gas-causing solids. Many women during pregnancy find this position comfortable for the same reason. I would recommend using something solid like part of a side-sleep support rather than a blanket because there is less of a risk that the baby could find a way to pull it over their face, or wiggle under it.
2. Gently massage around your baby's belly button in a clockwise circular motion.
This is one of the most basic forms of infant massage designed to help move gas and solids through the large intestine, which is the area it most often will get lodged in, causing pain. Other basic infant massage strokes include stroking from the base of your baby's rib cage downward to their hips and walking your fingers from left to right across your baby's tummy over and over again slowly moving from beneath the ribs to the diaper fastenings. If it is warm out, you can massage your baby while in nothing but their diaper using a light water based moisturizer like Avalon Organics Baby Lotion.
3. Place a warm towel low on the belly.
Sometimes a baby can get cramps from straining to move gas and solids through their bowels that are comparable to most menstrual cramps. Placing a warmed towel low on their tummy provides the same kind of relief that a heating pad provides for a grown woman. A warm bath can also be soothing in the same way.
4. Give your baby some tummy-time.
A little pressure on the tummy can be just the thing to help your baby push the irritation out. While your baby is laying on their tummy gentle stroking of the back from shoulder blades down to the hips can also sooth and relax your baby enough that the gas can be naturally expelled with less straining. Tummy time can be uncomfortable just after feeding, so do try to wait at least 15-20 minutes before you try this tip.
5. Play "Toes-On-Your-Nose" with your baby.
This is a home-remedy that has been passed down for generations. While your baby is laying on a comfortably padded and safe surface (like your lap), take their feet in your hands and gently stretch them up toward your baby's face. It is fun to sing or recite a little rhyme while you do this, and you might even elicit a little giggle from an older infant. When your baby is nice and relaxed, they should be able to touch their toes to their nose with very little pressure from you. Do not ever force your baby into a position that they are resisting. Also, be sensitive to their signals, and if they cry and arch away from you the game could be pinching a gas bubble or increasing their discomfort in another way. However if your baby is enjoying the game it can not only relieve gas, but be a sweet bonding-time for the two of you.
Gas pains are inevitable for babies, but for some they can make you both down-right miserable. I've recently added a few more tips for parents to try that can be read here. These tips have given me a helping time and again over the years. I hope you find them useful, please feel free to leave comments and questions or suggestions about these or any of my tips. If you find these tips helpful please do share them with your friends and family, especially those who are expecting a new baby. Thank you for reading!