Flatulence or farting is a biological process and occurs in all humans. Babies farting is a part of their normal development. A baby’s digestive system is still developing and cannot easily break down and digest food. It leads to excess gas production in the gastrointestinal tract, leading to farting.
Besides these, other factors, such as medication, food, and movement, may also cause stomach gas in babies. This post will help you understand what makes babies fart and ways to help them pass gas.
Is It Okay For An Infant To Fart?
There is no reason for you to feel concerned if your child passes gas. Make sure they pass gas regularly to avoid feeling discomfort. However, if their farts are accompanied by crying, fever, lack of appetite, and blood in their stools, try to figure out the underlying health issue to help them out.
What Makes Babies Fart?
If your baby has been farting too much lately, maybe there is something else causing excessive stomach gas. Here are some reasons why babies fart.
- Developing digestive system: A baby’s digestive system is in its developing stage, making it difficult for them to digest carbohydrates, proteins, and other nutrients present in breast milk. Improper breakdown of food causes excessive gas that is trapped in the intestines, causing discomfort to your baby (1).
- Lactose intolerance: Lactose intolerance can also cause excessive stomach gas in babies (2). As they lack the enzyme ‘lactase,’ they cannot break down lactose into glucose and galactose. The food consumed then moves into the large intestine, exposed to gut bacteria that ferments it into gases and acids.
- Overfeeding of milk: If the baby is fed more milk than required, it can cause too much pressure on their still-developing digestive system—leading to flatulence and diarrhea.
- Wrong feeding posture: Hold the baby in the right position to feed breastmilk. If they cannot latch properly, they may swallow excess air that causes air bubbles in the intestine leading to excessive farting. Similarly, if the nipple is too small when feeding through a bottle, the baby might swallow too much air, causing stomach gas. A too large nipple can also cause the milk to flow faster leading to excessive gulping of milk and air eventually leading to flatulence. Hence, the nipple used during bottle feeding must be of appropriate size for the age of the baby.
- Medications: Babies are often given antibiotics to prevent infections and diseases. However, some antibiotics can have unwanted effects on your child’s digestive system, such as clearing good gut bacteria. The absence of good bacteria can cause flatulence and excessive farting.
- Solid food: Once your child is a little older and can have milk without any problem, you might want to feed solid food. But, your baby’s digestive system is still in its developing phase. It works harder to digest food, leading to the production of excess gas.
- Constipation: It is normal for babies to go without pooping for a couple of days. However, when they start having solid foods or formula milk, they can feel constipated as their poop turns hard. Constipation can cause gas and make your baby fart frequently.
- Colic: Babies need time to get accustomed to the new world outside their mother’s womb. So, babies cry as a reaction to whatever they feel at that moment. When they cry too much, it could mean the baby has colic. Crying too much makes babies swallow air, which enters their tiny belly, causing excess gas leading to farts (3).
- Lack of movement: Babies spend a lot of time lying on their back. If their belly muscles are not exercised, it leads to the building up of gas. And too much gas means the baby will fart all day all night.
- Stress: Surprising as it may sound that babies feel stressed. Some babies can feel anxious and can even pick up the emotions you may be experiencing when you are with them. Do not worry, as you can be stressed or sad around them but remember to feed them on time and talk to them as often as you can so they feel calm and safe with you.
- Hyperlactation syndrome: It is a condition in which the mother’s breast milk flows out too fast and with a lot of force (4). The oversupply of milk could cause choking in infants. They might also find it difficult to maintain a latch during feeding, leading to flatulence.
How Can You Help Your Baby Pass Gas?
Farting is essential for babies as it helps relieve stomach discomfort. But sometimes babies cannot pass gas on their own, so you can help induce it.
- Burp the baby: Ensuring that your baby burps after every meal to help clear excessive air swallowed while feeding. Burp your baby by rubbing or gently patting at the back. Sometimes, babies may need to be burped in between feeds to help relieve the gas before continuing to feed.
- Rub their tummy: Gentle rubbing of your child’s belly in circular motion under their ribs can help alleviate gas trouble. Avoid doing it immediately after feeding your child, as it may cause more harm than good.
- Make them do exercises: Here are some stretching exercises for your little one to help pass gas. Remember that none of these should be done immediately after feeding.
- Toe to nose: Have your baby in the supine position. Hold their ankle and gently stretch their leg upward toward their nose. Repeat it a couple of times.
- Toes to shoulder: Hold both ankles of your baby, fold their knees, and then gently stretch their legs towards their shoulders. Repeat a couple of times.
- Toes to hip: In the same position, hold both their ankles and then gently stretch their legs to one side of their hip and then to the other side. Repeat a couple of times.
- Tummy roll: Roll your baby onto their tummy and let them move a little before you turn them onto their back again.
- Air cycling: In the same supine position, hold your baby’s ankles and then move their legs in a cycling motion. First clockwise, then anti-clockwise.
- Jiggle wiggle: Make your baby stand in your lap. Let them bounce and jump a couple of times.
- Hold your baby: Stomach gas gets worse when lying down. Keep your baby upright. You can try babywearing as it helps you hold your child close to you while they sleep peacefully in your arms.
- Alter their diet: If you keenly observe your child’s farting habit is due to the food they have, you might be able to pin down the reason behind their farting. Similarly, if you are breastfeeding, keep a tab on your diet and see if your eating habits are causing gas. If that is so, change your diet with a qualified nutritionist’s help.
- Use appropriate milk bottles: Check if the nipple of your baby’s bottle is of the proper size. A small nipple or a nipple with a small hole makes the baby suck too hard that makes them swallow too much air.
- See a pediatrician: Lastly, if you are unable to determine the reason for your baby’s excessive farting, then seek the advice of a qualified pediatrician. If your baby is suffering from constipation or any food allergy, the doctor will be able to diagnose and treat it.
Farting or passing gas is normal in babies. Improper breakdown of food in their developing digestive system, lactose intolerance, or excess milk consumption are some common causes of excessive gas or flatulence in babies. Generally, farting in babies isn’t a cause for concern unless it is accompanied by additional issues, such as constant crying, appetite loss, and blood in the stools. Mild abdominal discomfort caused by trapped gas can be relieved by burping the baby, rubbing their tummy, or making them do some exercises. However, if none of these methods work, consult a pediatrician promptly to find the most appropriate solution.
- Farting is natural for babies, and it is not a cause of concern in most cases.
- Lactose intolerance, overfeeding of milk, some medications, etc., are some reasons why babies fart.
- You can help your baby pass gas and feel relaxed by making them burp, rubbing their tummy, making them do the bicycle exercise, etc.
2. Lactose Intolerance, Kids Health from Nemours
3. Colic; Kids Health from Nemours
4. Infant and toddler health; Mayo Clinic