A gas problem in toddlers is common and is seldom a cause of concern. Usually, it may not require any clinical analysis or treatment interventions. Instead, the mild discomfort due to gas is easily managed at home with simple remedies. However, if your toddler has been experiencing constant and unbearable gas pain, you must seek medical advice. This post tells you about the possible signs, causes, and remedies for gas in toddlers.
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.
- FussinessiXThe quality of being difficult to please. and coliciXProlonged, frequent, and intense crying in an infant. even after proper feeding.
- Clenching his or her fist repeatedly.
- Increased burping.
- Frequent squirmingiXTo exhibit or experience discomfort or distress. .
- 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.
- Lactose intolerance: Lactose intolerance occurs when the small intestine does not produce or produces less lactaseiXEnzyme found in mammal’s small intestine that helps in the digestion of the sugar lactose. 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 digestive discomfort accompanied by symptoms such as gassiness, pain, nausea, and diarrhea, upon consumption of milk and dairy products (1).
- Dietary choice: According to the University of Michigan Health System, high fiber intake can cause gas. Vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, radish, carrots, onions, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, potatoes, green salads, and beans may also 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).
- Fruit juice: Incorporating excessive amounts of fruit juice in a toddler’s diet may lead to bloating and gassiness in some (3).
- Improper chewing: Gas problems may also surface if your toddler does not chew the food well while eating.
- Carbonated drinks:These beverages contain a significant amount of dissolved gases that may cause gas problems (2).
- Swallowing air: Eating food quickly can cause the ingestioniXThe process of consuming food and allowing it to enter the body. of excess air, which may cause gassiness (2).
- Other causes (4):
- Intake of some medicines, like antibioticsiXMedicines used to treat bacterial infections in humans and animals.
- Malabsorption and maldigestion of nutrients.
- Medical reasons such as irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies, and intestinal parasites can also be a reason for gas in toddlers.
Dr. Sharon Wiener, MD, a board-certified pediatrician from Plano, Texas, says, “The most common causes of gas pains in toddlers include constipation, viral gastroenteritis, and anxiety or stress. Other causes could be intestinal blockage and appendicitis.”
Gassiness can be usually managed with some home care tips.
Home Care For Toddlers With Gas
- 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.
- Warm bath: Giving your toddler a warm bath may reduce the gas at night.
- 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.
- 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.
- Warm compression: The application of warm compression on your toddler’s abdomen may also help reduce the gas.
- Avoid fruit juice and carbonated drinks: Give your toddler an assortment of fresh fruits instead of letting them have fruit juices and aerated beverages.
- 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. Additionally, avoiding overfeeding and quick feeding can aid in managing gas in infants.
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).
Dr. Wiener recommends, “See a doctor if your child has blood in their stool, persistent nausea and vomiting, pale or yellow skin, severe belly pain when touched, and bloated and swollen abdomen.”
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 or gastroenterologist. Over-the-counters may not be made for children, and could cause harm.
2. Can gas be painful for toddlers?
Gas can cause discomfort and mild abdominal pain in toddlers (8).
3. Which sleeping position is best for a gassy toddler?
A gassy toddler may find it difficult to fall asleep. However, holding the baby upright against your chest, patting their back while laying them on their belly, or laying them on their back and pedaling their legs helps ease abdominal discomfort by releasing the gas through burps and farts (9).
4. Why is a toddler’s gas worse at night?
A toddler’s gas is worse at night due to their immature digestive system as a result of which the gas can take time to release.
5. How long does trapped gas last in a toddler?
Gas can last up to two hours in the body and tends to cause excessive discomfort, nausea, or pain after feeding and when laid down (10).
Gas pain in toddlers is a manageable digestive problem that is usually not a cause for concern. Ingestion of gassy foods, lactose intolerance, improper chewing, swallowing air, and intake of antibiotics are some of its common causes. Giving your toddler a warm bath, moving their legs in bicycling motion, and tummy massage are simple home remedies that may provide relief. However, prompt pediatric consultation is required if the toddler exhibits signs such as extreme discomfort, disturbed sleep, appetite loss, and fever.
Infographic: Home Care For Toddlers With Gas
Gas is a common issue for toddlers and can be caused by various factors, such as eating habits and certain foods. While it may be uncomfortable for your child, it is typically not a cause for concern and can be managed at home. Here are some tips for providing home care for toddlers with gas.
- Gas in toddlers can cause discomfort, fussiness, colic, and burping.
- Causes of toddler gas can include diet, medicines, and medical conditions.
- Home remedies for toddler gas include massage, warm bath, and position changes.
- It is important to see a doctor if the toddler experiences constipation, fever, or loss of appetite.
Gas problems in toddlers can be a harrowing time, for them and their parents. For toddlers grappling with gas issues, this video outlines domestic remedies—such as soothing baths, gentle massages, and playful tummy time—to ease their discomfort.
2. Helpful hints for controlling gas (flatus); 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
8. Gas in the Digestive Tract; Children’s Hospital (CHOC)
9. Burping Your Baby; Nemours
10. Gastroesophageal Reflux; Nemours