Gas is an extremely common problem for newborns, and it can be quite painful for some babies. If you are bottle-feeding your newborn, there are steps you can take to help reduce or eliminate your baby’s gas pain. Consider the following dos and don’ts for bottle-feeding your gassy infant:
DO take it slow. If your baby is battling gas regularly, consider offering smaller, more frequent meals. For instance, if your baby normally takes four ounces of formula every four hours, consider offering two ounces every two hours.
DO remember to burp your baby. It’s okay if your baby doesn’t burp after every feeding, but if your newborn is struggling with gas it’s smart to try burping for a reasonable amount of time. Air that doesn’t come back up will cause intestinal gas later.
DO wait for the bubbles in the bottle to pop before feeding your baby. If you mix or shake your baby’s formula before a feeding, you will notice that there are many bubbles in the bottle when you are finished. To minimize swallowed air, wait a moment and let them pop before feeding your baby.
DO choose the right bottle. Bottles that reduce the amount of air inside are a smart choice for feeding gassy newborns. Some babies don’t have a problem with regular bottles, but a gassy baby may benefit from a different bottle.
DO choose the right nipple. Formula should not pour freely from a nipple. When held upside down, the formula should slowly drip out of the nipple. Taking too much formula too quickly can lead to gas, and it is also a choking risk for newborns.
DON’T bottle-feed gassy newborns while they are lying down. It’s best to hold your baby in a more upright position during feedings to help prevent gas, choking, and ear infections.
DON’T let babies suck air from the nipple. Make sure you are holding the bottle so that the nipple stays full of formula. Excess air swallowed during a feeding can cause gas.
DON’T force your baby to finish a bottle. Babies will let you know when they are full. If your baby loses interest or turns away from the bottle, don’t try to make him finish it. Of course, if your newborn is regularly not eating enough you should talk to your doctor.
DON’T keep switching your newborn’s formula. While it is possible for a baby to have problems digesting a certain formula, most of the time gassiness alone is not caused by a formula intolerance. Talk to your doctor about your concern, but there is usually no need to keep switching on your own.
DON’T hesitate to ask your baby’s doctor for help. There are gas remedies and medications that are considered very safe and effective for babies. Don’t feel like you are overreacting by calling the doctor and asking for help. If your baby gets relief from gas pain, the phone call was worth it.