Gas pain or colic in babies during early infancy is a common problem. Almost all babies pass through this phase between 1 to 6 months of their infantile period. Many parents consider it as gas, but actually it is colic and gripes that makes the baby cry. Although not serious, gas pain cause great distress to both baby and parents. It is associated with gripes, acute abdominal pain of intestinal origin and severe crying.
Any child can be afflicted but colic in newborns and infants is more bothering. Gas during first three to four months occurs partly because the gut has not established its own rhythm.Swallowing too much air while baby is breast feeding may also trigger gas formation. If the child is breast fed and mother eats gas producing foods such as onion, garlic and pulses, this may pass through breast milk and give rise to gas and colic. Dietary care on the part of mother is important.
Parents usually prefer to give old fashioned home remedies to their baby as they are safe and natural. Babies are not able to tell or locate their problem; therefore it is important to know the signs and symptoms of gas pain in order to identify the right remedy.
Signs And Symptoms Of Gas And Colic In Baby
- Burps and belching: Burping and belching is natural after baby feeds. It is body’s way to expel gas in stomach. But if burps and hiccoughs are excessive and lasting for a period of time, it is a sign of excessive gas collection.
- Spitting: Baby normally spits after feeding. However, when he spits often and has no relation to feeding, it may be an indication of excessive build of gas in stomach and intestine.
- Flatulence: Excessive passage of flatus is also suggestive of gas.
- Bloating: The abdomen is distended and tensed.
- Excessive crying: Baby starts crying due to painful cramps. The legs are drawn up on the abdomen, although they may be momentarily extended. Crying is loud and more or less continuous. Crying is the only way to communicate his problem.
- Colic is more often worse in the evening. Crying is sharp and excruciating than normal crying. The face turns red and flushed. The attack may terminate only when the baby is exhausted. But often there is relief with passage of feces or flatus.
- Insomnia: Baby finds difficulty to sleep as a result of gas pain. However, crying for long time may exhaust the baby and he may sleep for a while only to wake up again with a painful cramp.
What Causes Excessive Gas In Infants?
Gas formation is natural after digestion of breast or formula milk products. Usually it is expelled out of the body without any problem. Since gas is naturally buoyant, sometime excessive amount leads to entrapment in the intestine. There are several factors that may cause build up of gas in intestine and stomach:
- A simple cause is swallowing of too much of air while baby is feeding because either the teat on the bottle is too wide or the baby is so hungry that he may rapidly sucks in air as well as milk.
- Overfeeding may also cause discomfort and distension.
- Traces of certain foods are passed through mother’s milk. Baby may be sensitive to these foods for example mother eating onions, cabbage, cauliflower, cow’s milk etc may create gassiness in baby.
- Excessive lactose in foremilk may be one reason why baby may suffer from gas and discomfort. If the baby receives too much of foremilk containing sugar and lactose these may lead to gas formation.
- Use of certain medicines by mother or baby may also result in extra gas.
- Gastrointestinal infections (viral and bacterial) can lead to gas formation in babies.
Home Remedies For Gas Relief In Babies
Gas formation occasionally in first six months is obvious, but if the problem is frequent and persistent, parents may have to think of natural remedies to solve it. Appropriate self help may prove worthwhile.
- Hold the baby upright and pat his back until he burps after each feed. This will expel excess of gas swallowed while feeding.
- While feeding hold the baby in such position that the head and neck is above his stomach.
- A gentle tummy massage will help to release the trapped air. Massage should be done after half hour of feeding.
- Anise water is a natural remedy for gases in babies, especially under 6 months. Boil half teaspoon of anise seeds in two glasses of water. Let the water cool. Then give the baby two to three drops of this water two to three times in a day. Keep the extra water in refrigerator. It can be used for next day.
- Basil is time tested old remedy for relieving gas and colic in babies. The ingredients present in basil leaves act upon the intestine and relieve spasms. It is also sedative and therefore baby may have sound sleep. Boil few basil leaves in a pot of water. When the water gets cool, give two to three drops of this water to the baby.
- Herbal teas such as peppermint tea, fennel tea, and chamomile tea are beneficial in reducing gas and colic. Give him half teaspoon two to three times in a day.
- Gripe water is another time tested home remedy that has found profound acceptance among parents. Gripe water is available in all medical stores. Give half teaspoon of it to the bay when he has discomfort due to gas.
- Massage fennel essential oil mixed in coconut or olive oil over the abdomen. It gives relief from gas pain.