Gas is normal in newborns, but the discomfort and resulting tears it causes leaves new parents distressed. Your tiny baby swallows air when she eats quickly or cries, which then becomes trapped. Newborns also have more difficulty moving gas out of the body. By focusing on the way you bottle feed your baby and how you handle her after feeding, you can reduce and relieve gas pains in your newborn.
The timing of her bottle feedings plays a role in your newborn's gas. If she is overly hungry, she is more likely to eat fast. When she gulps down in a rush to eat, she tends to swallow more air than she would if she ate at a slower pace. It may take some time to get your newborn on a regular feeding schedule, but anticipating when she is hungry allows you to give her a bottle while she is still calm. Formula-fed newborns usually eat every two to four hours, according to Kids Health. She may show you hunger signs such as moving her head, rooting, nuzzling, sucking on her hands or making sucking motions with her mouth.
Finding the best combination of formula-feeding gear can take trial and error. The bottles, nipples and formula are all a part of the process. Nipples come in different flows from slow to fast. The slowest nipple flow is generally used for newborns. A faster flow makes it difficult for your little eater to keep up, causing her to eat faster. If she has to work too hard to suck the formula out, you may need to increase the flow. Test out different bottles if she seems to get too gassy from the ones you have on hand. The type of formula may also increase your newborn's gas. The casein protein in formula made with cow's milk can cause baby tummy troubles, according to Pregnancy and Newborn. Ask your newborn's pediatrician if switching to casein-free formula may help your baby.
The way you hold your baby while you feed her with a bottle affects how much air she swallows. Holding her in a slightly upright position puts her stomach lower than her mouth. This allows the milk to fill the bottom of her tummy so the air stays at the top. While it may not eliminate all gas, it does make the air easier to get out with burping. You should also pay attention to the nipple as you feed. If the nipple doesn't stay full with formula, your baby will suck in air as she eats. Watch the nipple as you feed so you can hold the bottom of the bottle in the air enough to keep the nipple full at all times.
Burping is a simple way to help your newborn move the air out of her tummy after she eats. Put a bit of pressure on her stomach to encourage the gas to come out. For example, lay her across your lap with one hand supporting her head and the other patting her back. She may not burp immediately after a feeding. Give her a few minutes before you try again. Other positions that help babies get rid of gas include tummy time on the floor or the bicycle move where you lay her on her back and rotate her legs like she's riding a bike.
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