Help a baby with gas pain at night: Tips and best sleeping positions
Babies struggling with gas or wind pains can be restless and hard to console. This can lead to some tough nights. In particular, young babies have immature digestive systems, and gassiness at night is a very common issue. Luckily, there are some tips to relieve nighttime gas pain and encourage the movement of air through the body and out the other end!
IN THIS ARTICLE:
Why does my baby have gas at night?
Most commonly gas is due to excessive air intake and this can be for a variety of reasons :
Physiology: Feeding and breathing simultaneously is hard! Therefore when an infant is feeding they can also swallow air.
Poor latch: Breastfed babies may have a poor latch that causes air intake. This may be due to the feeding position or possibly a tongue or lip tie. Some breastfeeding moms also have a fast letdown, causing the baby to gulp and take in more air while feeding.
Poor seal: Bottle-fed babies may not have a good seal on the bottle letting air in as they suck, or the teat may be too horizontal, meaning it’s not full of milk.
Excessive crying: Overtired, fussy, or restless baby at night time? Then it’s highly likely crying will escalate. Forceful crying is also a surefire way to ingest air.
Food sensitivities: Whether a baby is breast or bottle-fed, or starting solids, certain sensitivities and allergies can creep in. If the body struggles to break down a certain food  then they may experience excess gas and are likely to have other symptoms such as constipation or diarrhea.
Lying still at night: When we sleep, typically, there’s minimal movement of our bodies. Therefore it’s harder for air to move around and work its way through our system.
Immature digestive systems: Babies have immature digestive systems and their little bodies are learning too! It’s common for gas to build up, become trapped, and not be passed easily. Our digestive system is still active at night and the breakdown of milk and foods can cause excess gas.
Can gas keep the baby up at night?
Absolutely! Gas pains at night can bring anything from moderate discomfort to severe pain. For some babies, you may hear all sorts of noises indicating they have gas but they remain asleep! However, for babies experiencing discomfort, it will be hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. If it comes on at night then it’s also highly likely to wake them up. The good news is that when the gas has been passed, the discomfort also passes.
What sleeping position is best for a gassy baby?
Many parents wonder about the best sleeping position for a gassy baby. You may have heard that side sleeping (particularly on the left side) is better for releasing gas. However, safe-sleep guidance calls for babies to be placed to sleep on their backs until the baby’s first birthday. If a baby moves onto their side on their own, they can be left in that position if they are strong and confident at rolling in both directions , and have excellent head control.
Already showing signs of discomfort? You can help release gas pains by bicycling their legs or bringing their knees up to their chest. During the day, be sure to offer plenty of tummy time; the gentle pressure may help break up gas bubbles.
Tips to relieve baby’s gas discomfort at night
At the last feed before bedtime, make sure you keep their head higher than their stomach while feeding, and their backs are held as straight as can be. Allow plenty of time to burp your baby mid-feed and post-feed. Try bringing the baby's last feed to at least 30 minutes before bedtime to allow plenty of time for burping and try to keep them upright for at least 10-15 minutes before starting the rest of the bedtime routine.
Ensure their latch or seal is good and they’re not swallowing excess air when feeding. Seek support from a lactation consultant if needed. For bottle-fed babies, you may want to try a different bottle or the “anti-colic” bottles which typically have a vent allowing air to escape. Use a feeding pillow if needed to ensure your baby is upright when feeding and not folded over. Allow 10-15 minutes to sit your baby up after a feed and burp them.
For overtired or fussy babies, you may want to try bringing bedtime a little earlier or modifying the bedtime routine to include a baby massage with clockwise motions on their tummy to encourage air to move through their digestive system. Also, a nice warm bath can help to soothe fussy babies and make bedtime a little calmer.
While we don’t want any leaks at night, do make sure their diaper isn't too tight as it can cause pressure around the tummy.
Gassiness is a common issue in babies. It often occurs at night and can bring significant discomfort. It may mean your baby doesn’t settle easily or will be woken up during sleep. If you’ve tried our tips and your baby is still experiencing pain and discomfort with excess gas please discuss this with a pediatrician to rule out any underlying causes.
Gas pain at night for babies FAQ
Q: Is baby’s gas caused by food?
The breakdown of food by our digestive system causes gas and this is normal! Some foods, like beans and lentils, may cause more gas. However, if you’ve got a suspicion that your baby’s gas pains are not due to air intake or normal digestion and certain foods are making gas worse, then please speak to your pediatrician about potential sensitivities or allergies. Only try eliminating certain food groups with advice and support from your pediatrician. 
Q: Can babies sleep through gas pains?
Some babies will sleep soundly through the passing of gas, but it’s unlikely they’ll sleep through gas pains. These pains can come on quickly and bring a lot of discomfort which wakes the baby. Once the gas passes, the baby should be able to settle again.
Q: Why is baby's gas worse at night?
We lie very still at night! When we move around it is a natural way to assist the progression of gas through our bodies. At nighttime, there’s less movement and the gas can build up and get trapped. Additionally, babies tend to feed close to bedtime, and air introduced during this feed can become trapped. Also, our digestive systems are still very active at night and the results of digestion can be… gas!
Q: Why is my baby so gassy only at night?
Babies tend to also be very gassy all day, but moving around during our waking hours can help pass the gas more freely so you don’t notice it as you would at night.
Q: Does swaddling make gas worse?
Swaddling can help soothe some fussy babies who would otherwise be ingesting air from crying. However, for other babies, the reverse may be true and they may fight the swaddle. Take your baby's lead on whether the swaddle brings them comfort and they’d be less likely to ingest air through crying.
Q: Does dream feeding cause gas at night for a baby?
You may find that your baby feeds more calmly during a dreamfeed as they are only partially awake. This may result in less air intake. However, if your baby has latch or seal issues, they may still swallow air. You can still burp after a dreamfeed! Try to keep them upright and spend a few minutes bringing up any air before placing them back down to sleep.
Note: The content on this site is for informational purposes only and should not replace medical advice from your doctor, pediatrician, or medical professional. If you have questions or concerns, you should contact a medical professional.
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THE TASK FORCE ON SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME AND THE COMMITTEE ON FETUS AND NEWBORN; Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2022 Recommendations for Reducing Infant Deaths in the Sleep Environment. https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/150/1/e2022057990/188304/Sleep-Related-Infant-Deaths-Updated-2022
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