April 1, 2016 Mary & Suzanne

Your baby is crying: Could it be gas?

So, have you tried sensory strategies and your baby is still crying more than other babies her age?

The culprit might be GAS!

Young babies are still trying to process sensations not only from their external environment but also from the internal environment of their own bodies. As parents learn to identify what is bothering their babies, they can begin to help.

First check to see if baby is crying because he is in pain, is hungry, or has a dirty diaper. Breast-feeding babies may have days where they are extra hungry while mom’s milk is increasing. Nursing the baby more frequently on a hungry day will ensure a larger milk supply the next day. Some babies are acutely sensitive to anything in their diaper, including wetness and will fuss until it is changed.

If none of these physical issues are a problem, and sensory strategies don’t seem to be helping, your crying baby may have painful tummy gas. We recommend watching the video about ways to recognize and prevent tummy gas, developed by Priscilla Dunstan.

Babies with intestinal gas tend to pull their legs up onto their bellies when they cry. If intestinal gas continues to bother your baby, try a different formula with a different protein base. Formulas are often soy or milk based, both common food allergens that can be hard for the baby to digest. There are formulas on the market that are soy and milk free so read labels carefully and experiment with different products until you find one that works for your baby. Try using a brand that is formulated for the sensitive baby and is labeled dairy free or soy free. You may have to try a few to find one that baby can tolerate.

Common Culprits

Breast- feeding is the easiest way to feed the sensitive baby, but certain foods in mom’s diet may cause gas in the young baby. If you are breast-feeding your baby, keep a log of foods you ate in the last twenty-four hours. This makes it easier to determine if baby is reacting to a food in your diet that may leave trace compounds in your breast milk. The most common gas forming foods are:

Group One:

  • Sulfur containing foods such as onion and garlic
  • Cruciferous vegetables; broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts
  • Tomatoes
  • Citrus
  • Shellfish
  • Spicy foods

If you suspect your baby is crying because of painful gas, it is an easy fix to stop eating all of the foods above for one week. Re-introduce them one at a time, one per day, to see which ones might be a problem. Problem foods reactions will usually show up as baby being fussy, or having a diaper rash approximately twenty-four hours after you eat them. Sensitive babies may frequently spit up and eliminating problems foods may significantly reduce this. Some babies have an even more sensitive system and also react to these foods:

Group Two:

  • Eggs
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Corn
  • Dairy (may be listed as: casein, whey, milk, lactose)

If the baby’s gas does not resolve after you eliminate the most common culprits (Group 1), try the second group as well.  You can usually eat the foods that baby is sensitive to after his digestive system matures a bit, at about six months. If the problem returns, remove the food from your diet and try again when the baby is eight months old.

A baby who is sensitive to foods may also have other symptoms that are indicators of allergic reactions, such as rashes or eczema. These symptoms often clear when the food causing the reaction is removed from your diet, or from his diet if you are bottle-feeding.

The sensitive baby will usually need more careful burping. There is no such thing as too much burping with this baby. Gas in the upper digestive tract will make its way to the lower digestive tract and create pain later.

It is well worth the investment of time to get baby to burp after each feeding and in between feedings if no other calming method is working!

Your time as a baby detective will yield big results as you notice your baby cry less and smile more!


Dustan, Priscilla (2015). Dustan Baby Language; www.dunstanbaby.com


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