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Gas Problem in Toddlers: Signs, Causes and Home Remedies

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Gas in toddlers is common and seldom requires any significant clinical investigation and treatment. In most cases, natural remedies and home care may provide relief from gas and its associated discomfort. However, a pediatric consultation should not be delayed if the toddler seems to experience frequent and excruciating gas pain.

In this post, MomJunction tells you about the signs of gas in toddlers, causes, and home care tips.

How Do You Know Your Toddler Has A Gas Problem?

Some of the common signs and symptoms often associated with gas in toddlers include:

  • Uneasiness and increased discomfort.
  • Difficulty in passing stool.
  • Fussiness and colic even after proper feeding.
  • Clenching his or her fist repeatedly.
  • Increased burping.
  • Frequent squirming.
  • Pulling of legs towards the tummy.

Understanding the cause of the problem may ensure better and effective treatment.

Common Causes of Gas Problem In Toddlers

Gas formation or gas pain in toddlers may surface due to a host of reasons. The most common ones are listed here.

  1. Lactose intolerance: Lactose intolerance occurs when the small intestine does not produce or produces less lactase enzyme. A deficiency of lactase causes an inability to digest lactose, which is a natural sugar found in milk. A toddler with lactose intolerance can have gassiness on the consumption of milk and dairy products (1).
  1. Dietary choice: According to the University of Michigan Health System, cauliflower, cabbage, radish, carrots, onions, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, potatoes, green salads, and beans cause gas. Apricots, prunes, raisins, dried fruits, foods rich in bran, wheat germ, brown rice, whole wheat, cheese, citrus fruits, pears, and oatmeal also fall under this category (2).
  1. Fruit juice: Consumption of fruit juice in excess may lead to bloating and gassiness in some (3).
  1. Improper chewing: Gas problems may also surface if your toddler does not chew the food well while eating.
  1. Carbonated drinks:These beverages contain a significant amount of dissolved gases that may cause gas problems (2).
  1. Swallowing air: Eating food quickly can cause the ingestion of excess air, which may cause gassiness (2).
  1. Other causes (4):
    • Intake of some medicines, like antibiotics
    • Malabsorption and maldigestion of nutrients
    • Medical reasons such as irritable bowel syndrome

Gassiness can be usually managed with some home care tips.

Home Care For Toddlers With Gas

The following tips may provide some relief for toddlers with gas problems (5) (6).

  1. Bicycle motion: Lay your toddler on their back. Move their legs gently in a bicycle or pedaling motion. This motion may be helpful in releasing the gas.
  1. Warm bath: Giving your toddler a warm bath may reduce the gas at night.
  1. Check for bubbles: Bubbles in the milk or formula milk may be one of the underlying factors causing gas in toddlers. While feeding the formula milk to your toddler, make sure there are no bubbles in the milk. Also, adjust the nipple in such a way that the milk flow is neither too fast nor too slow.
  1. Tummy massage: Massaging your toddler’s tummy with some oil may also help release the gas, providing some comfort. However, do not exert too much pressure on the tummy while massaging.
  1. Warm compression: The application of warm compression on your toddler’s abdomen may also help reduce the gas.
  1. Avoid fruit juice and carbonated drinks: Give your toddler an assortment of fresh fruits instead of letting them have fruit juices and aerated beverages.
  1. Feeding position: Place the toddler’s head higher than the tummy while feeding from the breast or the bottle. You can try other positions too, and check what works the best in reducing gassiness in the toddler.

When To Seek Medical Care?

Pediatric care and medications may be needed in the following cases.

  • The toddler is cranky and inactive.
  • The toddler also has severe constipation.
  • They have disturbed sleep because of the problem.
  • The toddler develops mild to moderate fever.
  • The gas problem is causing a loss of appetite.
  • The toddler cries incessantly, resulting in colic. However, there isn’t much scientific evidence to suggest that gas may cause colic (7).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can you give OTC medicines for gas to toddlers?

No. Do not administer over-the-counter medicines and antacids to a toddler without consulting a pediatrician. Over-the-counters may not be made for children, and could cause harm.

2. Can you give gas relief drops for toddlers?

Gas drops such as Simethicone may provide relief to a toddler. However, gas drops may be given to the toddler only after consulting a pediatrician.

Gas seldom calls for a medical emergency or triggers any adverse complications. Making the toddler follow good eating habits and staying alert to what the toddler eats can help lower the incidence of gas problems in a toddler.

How do you deal with gas in your toddler? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

References:

1. Lactose Intolerance; John Hopkins Medicine
2. https://www.med.umich.edu/fbd/docs/Gas reduction diet.pdf; University of Michigan Health System
3. The Use and Misuse of Fruit Juice in Pediatrics; American Academy Of Pediatrics; May 2001.
4. Gas-Flatulence; Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.
5. W S Swanson; How To Help Your Gassy Baby; Seattle Children’s Hospital; Dec 7, 2017.
6. How To Treat Gas in Babies; International Foundation For Mother And Child Health (ifmch)
7. Colic; Stanford Children’s Health

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