Introducing Baby Foods That May Cause Gas

Posted on Oct 11 2010 - 9:21am by Christine

We received a message this weekend from Lianne in Iowa, United States who was worried about giving her baby foods that might cause gas (or ‘wind’.)

Lianne wrote

My son is 6 months old and has just started baby food. We’ve only given him sweet potato, squash and fruit so far. I’d like to introduce broccoli and beans, but my friend told me not to give beans because they gave her son gas. Lucas had a lot of colic in his first few months and I’m afraid to cause any more problems. What would you suggest?

Well, it’s certainly true that some foods are more likely than others to cause gas – not just in babies, but in adults too. It’s also true that the foods most likely to cause gas will only do so in certain individuals, whilst others can eat them and suffer from no problems with gas at all!

So it’s important not to compare your baby’s reactions to certain foods with those of other children. Just because a friend’s baby seems gassy after eating broccoli, for example, doesn’t mean your baby will too!Introducing baby foods that may cause gas

Why do certain foods cause gas

Some foods are more likely than others to cause intestinal gas because they are composed of a relatively high percentage of material that the body is unable to digest, such as certain sugars and carbohydrates.

If your baby eats these foods, this indigestible material goes to the large intestine, where it is consumed by the natural ‘healthy’ bacteria in his gut. Whilst consuming this material, the bacteria give off their own waste product – gas – which your baby’s body then has to deal with.

The foods most likely to cause gas include…

  • beans (of all kinds)
  • dried legumes (lentils etc)
  • cabbage
  • broccoli
  • brussels sprouts
  • asparagus
  • corn
  • whole grains (particularly wheat)
  • onions
  • cauliflower
  • dried fruit

Some people even experience gas after eating dairy products (including cheese), apples peaches and pears.

So – as you can see – the list of foods that can cause gas is not only fairly lengthy… it also contains a great deal of very healthy foods that you certainly don’t want to be excluding from your baby’s diet!

Introducing foods that may cause gas – tips to minimize the problem

There are ways of minimizing the side effects that the typically ‘gassy’ foods have on your baby…

  • Soak dried legumes – like lentils – for at least a few hours before cooking them, or preferably overnight. Better still, change the soaking water a few times throughout the process! Much of the indigestible sugar in the legumes dissolves into the water… so you can simply toss the problem down the sink!
  • If cooking broccoli for your baby, use just the florets (you could save the stems for making stock). Some people find that the stems cause them to produce more gas than the florets – and the florets are more nutritious for your baby anyway!
  • When cooking any foods that have a reputation for causing gas, add sliced fresh ginger to the cooking water – or add a little ginger to the finished dish. Ginger is a wonderful digestive aid. The first time you use ginger (from 6 months onwards), treat it as a ‘new food’ and introduce with a food your baby is already enjoying.
  • Make ‘gassy’ foods a regular part of your baby’s diet, rather than only offering them from time to time. In some cultures, ‘gassy’ foods like lentils are consumed on a regular basis… but this doesn’t mean that everyone who eats them is plagued by gas! This is because the body becomes accustomed to processing those foods – so for your baby, any problems with gas will likely diminish as he begins to enjoy those foods more frequently.
  • When you introduce beans to your baby, try lots of different varieties! You may find that navy beans give your baby gas, for example, but that black beans don’t cause any problems at all!
  • Avoid canned beans – these won’t have received your special ‘gas-busting’ treatment (soak-rinse-soak), so canned beans may give your baby worse gas than beans you’ve cooked yourself.
  • Make sure your little one eats plenty of natural yogurt, which helps balance the healthy bacteria in his gut.

Why it’s a good idea to delay the introduction of particularly gassy foods

We don’t recommend offering the worst offenders (like beans) to your baby as a very first food – after all, his digestive will be busy enough becoming accustomed to a solid diet rather than a purely liquid one!

But you can try offering some of these foods after he’s already enjoying some of the more ‘innocuous’ fruits and veggies – from 6 to 8 months.

Not only will his digestive system be more mature by 8 months – he will probably be fairly mobile. And this is actually an important point to take into consideration.

Producing gas after eating certain foods is a normal, healthy reaction – the problem arises when your little one is unable to expel that gas.

Younger babies – who are not yet crawling or perhaps not yet sitting up – are more likely to suffer from trapped gas, which can be very uncomfortable. Once babies are on the move, however, the gas seems to work its way out much more easily – and whilst this may result in a fair amount of noise in the diaper department, it doesn’t usually lead to distress. In fact, our little ones have always giggled and seemed rather delighted by their sound effects!

So to summarize, we recommend…

  • NOT offering typically ‘gassy’ foods as your baby’s very first foods.
  • Delaying the introduction of the gassiest foods until your baby is AT LEAST 6 months of age, but preferably closer to 8 months… and mobile!
  • Following the steps shown above to minimize the effects when preparing certain foods.
  • Offering ‘gassy’ foods on a regular basis so that your baby’s body becomes accustomed to them.
  • Accepting that a little gas is perfectly normal and that – as long as your baby does not seem distressed by it – gas in itself is not a problem.

Sources:
NDDIC – Gas in the Digestive Tract
Savvy Vegetarian – How To Eat Beans Without Gas
Dr Oz Show – Ginger, a Powerful Herb

Are there any foods that give YOUR baby gas? Have you found any ways to minimize the gassiness caused by certain foods? Please do share your experiences!

More articles about digestive problems…

Baby constipation
Feeding a baby with diarrhea

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14 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Nadine Pace November 24, 2010 at 4:51 pm -

    Thanks for this article, I have found it very helpful. My LO is almost 8 months and she has battled with very bad gas from birth and still battles with cramps & gas. She loves to eat all kinds of food but I’ve had to limit what she eats because of the gas. I’ve even found she gets gas from eating apples and pears. Our homeopath suggested that we try not to give her food high in fibre. Your article does make sense and I’m going to try and give her small amounts of food that have given her gas in the past and see if her tummy becomes used to it. She doesn’t seem to have any allergic or intolerant symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, rashes etc just a very crampy tummy. Thanks for your advice, will let you know how it goes.

  2. Nadine Pace November 24, 2010 at 4:53 pm -

    PS The strange thing is that during the day she is fine, it’s mainly at night that she’s up almost every hour with cramps. Can anything I’m eating still affect her in the breast milk?

  3. Christine November 24, 2010 at 6:19 pm -

    It’s possible that it could be something she’s receiving via breast milk – have you tried eliminating certain things just to see? Has she been checked by your doctor, just to be sure these are simple gas pains? Poor baby and poor you – you both must be exhausted!

  4. Cherie March 31, 2011 at 2:31 pm -

    I have a gassy baby from birth. He is now almost 7 months old. I began offering solids at 4 months & I breast feed.I have noticed over the months that he seems worse if I have a higher dairy intake.
    He is much better if we take quite some time with his feed, resting, winding, tummy rub & back to breast when he is ready 2-7 mins later.
    He wakes in the night with wind. I’m still trying to resolve this one.
    We are using gripe water twice a day this week and infacol before his 4 feeds. He seems more comfortable as each day passes.
    It was interesting to read that too much fore milk &not enough hind milk, makes baby gassy as enzymes don’t have a chance to cope with a lot all at once (if u have a lot of milk supply).
    Good luck everyone 🙂

  5. Christine March 31, 2011 at 4:39 pm -

    Thanks for sharing Cherie – I hope those night time gas pains wear off soon!

  6. Veronica May 23, 2011 at 11:28 am -

    I can’t seem to figure out how to resolve my baby’s gas problems. Everything I feed him upsets his tummy. He is 9 months old and he eats only oatmeal for all of his solid meals because its the only thing that doesn’t upset his tummy. He takes prevacid every day for his reflux and I have cut dairy out of my diet completely, but I can’t seem to figure out the solution. He still wakes very frequently at night, and its mostly because his tummy makes it impossible to be consistent with a routine. Our doctor has already said no finger foods until he’s 1. I am afraid he’s not getting proper nutrition, and I can’t find anyone who has ever been through something similar. Please if you have a solution or even if you can simply relate, let me know. Its beyond stressing me out. At this point I feel like he’s gonna live off oatmeal for the rest of his life!!!

  7. Cherie May 24, 2011 at 8:37 am -

    Hi Veronica, I can see how you would be feeling very stressed. The simple foods that really shouldn’t upset his tummy like sweet potato and pear puree. Try introducing one small teaspoon into his oatmeal and do this for a week. See how he goes and then you could add a little more. Pear puree is mild too…try the same thing. As time goes by perhaps his tummy will begin to settle more. My one is now 8mths and since he popped up four teeth last month, he is less gassy. He also broke out all over in ezcema so, like you, I was tearing my hair out. The ezcema cleared on its own and all the foods I thought it might be…I have slowly (excluding dairy) introduced them back. No out break of ezcema…so what was it? Heat wave, teething, pollen? I won’t know for another year and until the next teething episode.
    If after a couple of weeks, you still feel there is a problem, request a pediatrician to help you with his diet. You will need help to ensure he gets a balanced diet now he is getting older and a professional sounds like the way to go if above doesn’t help.
    Oh, and my one still wakes VERY frequently, I’m exhausted and have had to get some help. He still swallows too much air breastfeeding but he is starting to be able to belch without my help…chewing on things.
    http://www.kellymom.com is an interesting website to read it has so much researched info
    Good luck – I hope you get results soon.

  8. Gen September 27, 2011 at 6:34 pm -

    I am having similar challenges introducing solid foods to my 7 month old. He still takes Prevacid every day for acid reflux and is on soy formula.
    He hasn’t slept well since we started on new foods and cries horribly before falling asleep at night. I think I have narrowed it down to carrots being the main culprit, so I left those off the menu today and have my fingers crossed. We were up all night last night until he finally started passing gas around 3 a.m. Poor baby was sideways in his crib from thrashing around in his sleep.
    I also skipped the dinner solid feeding so he would have plenty of time to digest during the day as we seem to only have the problem at night. And, based on something else I read, I put him in his jumperoo for a little bit before bed to try to help things move through his system.
    If I have any luck, I will let you know. Any other advise or suggestions would be very appreciated. 🙂

  9. StacyZubillis September 19, 2012 at 7:50 am -

    My son is about to be 10 months old and still has a hard time passing gas. Broccoli, sweet potato, banana and yogurt all make him extremely gassy. He wakes in the night screaming his head off until he passes the gas. I rub his belly, give him warm bath, rub his back, carry him around and give him little tummies. Nothing seems to work! Our doctor doesn’t seem to think its a problem. But there are nights we don’t get to sleep until 3 am. What else can I do?

  10. Homemade Baby Food Recipes September 19, 2012 at 9:59 am -

     @StacyZubillis Aww, poor baby and poor you. Are you nursing? If you have eliminated the problem foods from baby’s diet, could he be receiving them via your milk? Also, is he very mobile during the day, or not yet walking/crawling?

  11. StacyZubillis September 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm -

    @Homemade Baby Food Recipes
    I am not nursing, he’s on the Fussyness and Gas formula which I thought was helping. I know what foods are causing the gas, but do I completely eliminate them from his diet? I know sweet potato, banana, broccoli, and yogurt make him gassy. But he loves them all! But when he eats them…. We pay for it. He is very mobile. Crawling everywhere all the time. But not walking. Sometimes at night I just let him crawl around and he will fart. But it doesn’t help for the rest of the night.

  12. Homemade Baby Food Recipes September 19, 2012 at 3:20 pm -

    It must be hard to restrict foods that he enjoys so much – but have you tried alternatives – perhaps butternut squash instead of sweet potato – or does that have a similar effect? And perhaps soy yogurt as opposed to dairy, to see if that helps? Also, just wondering if your doctor has considered lactose intolerance as a possible cause – gas caused by broccoli etc is clearly a separate issue, but could baby’s milk and yogurt be causing a problem too? Sorry for more questions than answers – one thing definitely worth trying is cooking veggies with a little ginger – it can have quite a soothing effect.

  13. JamieNewMommyAndLovingIt January 4, 2013 at 9:25 pm -

    @StacyZubillis my sweet boy just turned 6 months and is exclusively breastfed. Dr suggested slowly introducing solids around 4months but that was way too soon for him. He has the same gas issues you are describing and they only seem to bother him at night when he is too tired to deal with them. Now that he is 6months, I am so scared of gassy night from the new foods that we will introduce to him. Is your lo breastfed? I can tell you that I ended up keeping a food journal and found that on extremely gassy nights I had had either onions, potatoe chips, broccoli or, the worst offender, tomato sauce. Now, if I eat those things I only do super early in the day and at night I have a very bland dinner. It’s helped me lose weight too! Another thing that has helped tremendously is tummy time and lots of burping before bed. Also, heating pad helps to soothe. I even put one in the crib before I lay him down for bed. Good luck, I totally feel your pain and hate when the doctor brushes it off like no big deal. Lastly, there are prescription gas drops you can get from your dr. We were prescribed some but I have yet to use them bc of the side affects. I suppose if it gets real bad I may use them.

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