Unique Situation with Gassy Baby

Updated on March 25, 2010
J.F. asks from Washington, DC
11 answers

I was not able to nurse due to a breast surgery I had years ago, but my 4 month old son has been receiving donated breast milk since he was born. He's thriving beautifully and in the 75th percentile for weight. Recently he has begun having intestinal gas at night and it's waking him up 4 or 5 times a night EVERY night. It really seems to be bothersome. I try bicycling his legs and all the various tricks to get the gas out but obviously I'd like for him to not have this.

The problem is there is really no way to isolate a problem with the breast milk (such as the mother's diet) since most of it was pumped and frozen within the last couple of months. One of our donors is dairy free but the other is not and I can't seem to tell a difference with the dairy free breast milk. It's always at night, and he also seems to be pooping at night which he didn't really used to do (his poop is the same consistency/smell, etc.) He's always been a little bit of a gassy guy but he had just begun sleeping through the night fairly consistently when this happened.

We're considering going ahead and making the transition to formula since one of our donors won't have more milk available soon anyway and he's been able to get the benefits of the breast milk up to this point, which I'm thrilled about. I would love to get the experience of any other moms about making the switch from breast milk to formula particularly if you've had a good experience with one formula over another with regards to gas. Or if anyone has a take on this (do all babies go through a phase like this sometimes? Could it have to do with the bottle/feeding technique?) that's welcome too. The few times he received formula (Earth's Best) I felt like it was tough on his system but maybe that was just the introduction of something different. I'm hoping to make a smooth transition to something and stick with it. Thanks!

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So What Happened?

Thank you all so much for your input - it really was appreciated.

We didn't end up having enough breastmilk to do a long transition but after 3 or 4 days we had him switched over completely to the formula, and we did use the Good Start Gentle Plus which we're still using. He still gets gassy every now and then but it's not bothering him at night and his sleeping is a lot more consistent.

Thanks again!!!!

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answers from Washington DC on

My son has a dairy allergy which we think started around 3.5 months. He also was very gassy and started waking up all the time. Due to this I read the book Dealing With Food Allergies in Babies and Children. One thing about the different breast milk is that he would have to have the dairy free for about 3-4 weeks straight until you would notice a difference. GoodStart is actually listed in there as being a partially hydrolyzed formula based on whey and it may help prevent a dairy allergy although it isn't good for a child who does already have a dairy allergy. So if you are going to switch to formula I would suggest GoodStart. If he still has symptoms then you may need a dairy free formula which are expensive. Be careful of soy formulas too because babies who are sensitive to dairy can develop soy allergies really easily. I hope this helps. I went through a nightmare of a time with my son until he was finally diagnosed at 2.5 yrs with the dairy allergy. I wish I knew then what I know now. Good luck!

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answers from Norfolk on

My son was breastfed exclusively for nearly the first year of his life. All the milk was from me and I monitered my diet closely. No matter how bland I kept my food, he would still get the occassional bit of painful gas. When he did, we gave him Mylacon (infant gas drops.) They worked.

Whenever I had to pump for him to be fed from a bottle, we used the Doc Browns bottles. They have an insert which allows air flow past the milk into the bottle making air bubbles in the tummy less likely. We loved them.

Some of it could also be baby's sleep position at night. Back sleeping is best for prevention of SIDS, but we were advised by a nurse in the early months to put a rolled up receiving blanket under one side of baby to give a slight tilt to one side. This helps if he has to cough up mucus or pass gas. (It's much more difficult to pass gas while lying prone.) Some people also like a wedge that allows baby a little incline while sleeping. This is supposed to help with any reflux.

Congratualtions on having such a great support system that you could provide your baby breastmilk for so long already. Like the other ladies have said, if you must transition, do so slowly, mixing the formula with the breastmilk in gradually larger proportions. Don't buy a case of any one brand right off, but get some samples (some of which you can probably get for free by looking around online. A lot of companies will ship you a free sample with a gift.) Keep a journal that you can take with you to baby's doctor and figure out if there's is an allergy or sensativity to an ingredient before making that your formula of choice.

Good luck and best wishes.


answers from Richmond on


I read through your responses and I just want to emphasise (sp?) the use of Good start (used to be nestle now is gerber) formula it helped my daughter out tremendously. I had to stop breast feeding because no matter what I ate she had horrible gas, even the doctor at her visit was surprised how much gas she had in her tummy. So when I switched I started to put mylicon drops in her bottle and I used Dr. Browns bottles, they are a pain to clean but make all the difference. I just really want to stress to you how great the Good Start formula worked and it really has next to no smell even when she spits it up. I am sorry you have to deal with this but this to shall pass. Good luck and God bless



answers from Washington DC on

Sorry your little one is having so much trouble with gas! When my daughter was an infant she would have weeks where she was having issues with gas. We would give her the Mylicon drops and that seemed to help a bit. We would also peddle her legs and push on her feet to bring her knees up to her chest - my husband was really good at that move and that would bring her some relief. I had to pump and so she also got breastmilk from a bottle and we tried numerous bottles when her gas problems first appeared. Nothing really made any difference but we settled on Born Free as she seemed to take better to them than any of the other brands. While giving her breast milk my diet did not seem to matter as no matter how careful I was she would still get gas sometimes and sometimes when I was not careful she would not have any gas. We never figured it out but it did pass eventually and our peditrician told us it was common for babies to have phases of gassiness.
We started to transition to formula at the 3 month mark and were on formula completely by 4-1/2 months. We tried lots of brands (you can get free samples if you go to the company's websites) and settled on Enfamil AR as she liked it best, it reduced spit up and it did not smell too bad (I could not stand the smell of some of the other formulas). Good luck and I hope this phase passes soon for your son!


answers from Washington DC on

make the transition very slowly, adding just a little formula to the breast milk and letting him get used to that before you up it. really, take a few days at each level before adding more.



answers from Washington DC on

I agree with the suggestions for Nestle Goodstart and the MAM bottles. Also it's probably best for his system to do a gradual change over at least a couple weeks....give him one bottle a day of the formula for a day or so then two bottles, etc...a lot of the formula websites have a transistion schedule you can use.

One thing I thought of is could it possibly teething and not gas? 4 months is about the time teething starts...so if that is the case you might want to treat him for that and see if it helps. Tylenol (he can't have motrin until 6 months) and teething tablets worked for me.

Best of luck getting your little guy comfortable, whatever the cause!



answers from St. Louis on

I recommend the infant gas drops too. They helped both of my kids.
The Enfamil formulas constipated both of my kids. Similac gave my son gas and the smell of the formula always smelled spoiled. I recommend the Nestle GoodStart, its a little more pricey but my kids adjusted to it the best without any problems.
Gerber bottles seemed the best working for us, and the only other kind I have tried is Avent which always leaked.
Good luck.



answers from Richmond on

I agree with all the other posts suggesting using GoodStart formula. My son was never breastfed so I cannot relate to any of those issues but if you do switch to formula then GoodStart is fantastic. My son had gas, reflux - you name it - he had it. We tried tons of formulas (even those fancy expensive ones) and in the end the GoodStart was the best formula for his sensitive system! We too used Mylicon drops constantly. We would add the drops to his bottles to eliminate the gas bubbles in the bottle. Also, make sure your baby burps well after each feeding and make sure he stays upright for about 10 minutes at least after feeding - our doctor stressed the importance of this with our son and it helped! Good Luck! :)



answers from Honolulu on

Give him infant gas drops.
This helps a LOT.
My daughter had bad gas problems as an infant... and this worked for her.
Some babies are just gassier than others. My daughter, also did not fart... or burp. So she had lots of gas problems.

My son, transitioned to Formula, on a supplemental basis, and I was still nursing the majority of the time. He was fine. No problems. I used the Enfamil from Costco.

For Bottles, I used the "MAM" brand, which I got from Amazon. It is BPA free, and does NOT accumulate air bubbles in the bottle as the baby drinks. Great bottle!

All the best,



answers from Chicago on

Nestle GoodStart was great for our son with a dairy allergy. We used Born Free bottles that have some kind of annoying insert that was supposed to help prevent gassiness. I know many children with dairy allergy need a prescription formula made without milk proteins - be wary of soy, since they are at higher risk of developing soy allergy. My son was very gassy as well, but once we cut dairy out he became a happier baby and better sleeper.



answers from Washington DC on

My only suggestion is to transition him slowly if you think the times he's had formula were hard on him. I'd add an ounce to his bottle and see how he does. Then slowly increase the amount of formula.

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