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Could a Baby's Formula Cause a Lot of Gas?

by Ashley Garay

Parents typically want what is best for their babies -- and ensuring proper nutrition is key to your child's health, growth and development. You might choose to breastfeed only, to supplement with formula, or to just formula feed, choosing a formula that your doctor or someone else recommends or one that simply works for you financially. However, if your baby is having a lot of gas, you need to consider if it is the formula or other factors causing the problem.

Allergies and Sensitivity

Some babies have a sensitivity to certain formulas, which can cause gastrointestinal side effects like gas and diarrhea. Formulas typically have a cow's milk base, so if your child has a dairy allergy or even sensitivity, it can mean that she ends up with an uncomfortable tummy after every meal. Parents often switch to a soy-based formula if their baby can't handle dairy, but soy allergies are fairy common as well and can also cause gas and other side effects. Some babies are sensitive to the proteins in a particular formula, notes MedlinePlus. Ask your pediatrician if you suspect that the formula is causing your baby's gas so that she can make specific recommendations about other types of formula available, such as easier-to-digest hypoallergenic formulas.

Iron

Baby formula typically includes iron. Some brands continue to make low-iron versions due to the misconception that iron causes gastrointestinal side effects like gas. In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that formula companies discontinue the manufacturing of low-iron formulas as there were no conclusive studies indicating that iron does indeed cause gas and other gastrointestinal side effects in infants, notes MedicineNet.com. The AAP points out that low-iron formulas are nutritionally deficient, which could cause other problems due to the lack of iron. If your baby is very gassy, the iron in his formula is not a likely cause.

Bottles and Swallowing Air

If your baby has a lot of gas while on formula, consider that it might be the type of bottle you are using that is causing the gas, not the formula. You might want to try switching the bottles and nipples before purchasing pricey special formulas to treat your baby's excessive gas. Nipple size allows for faster or slower flow from the nipple. If a baby is struggling to keep up with the faster flow, she may swallow more frequently and take more air into her belly, causing gas and discomfort. Bottles also come in many shapes and styles, many marketed specifically to parents who are trying to reduce their baby's gas symptoms.

Frequency

Babies enjoy sucking for food and comfort, especially at the newborn stage when sucking is a physical reflex. However, if a baby is overeating because she enjoys sucking the bottle or if she is eating too quickly, she may experience gas and bloating. If a baby is taking less than 20 minutes to feed and is experiencing excessive gas, she might be eating too quickly and need a different nipple size, notes MedlinePlus. If she is simply using the bottle for comfort, consider trying a pacifier before feeding her another bottle if you don't think she is truly hungry. You should always feed a hungry baby, even if it seems too soon, but if she accepts the pacifier without a fuss, she probably just wants the comfort.

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