Spit up and gas are to be expected in babies. Their digestive systems are barely developed, and after months of receiving nutrients via amniotic fluid and umbilical cord, the change to formula or breastmilk can be a lot for a little stomach to handle.
However, some cases cause parents to question what is normal: Is my baby spitting up too much? She always seems to be gassy and fussy; is this normal?
If you are asking these questions, and you are bottle-feeding with formula, it may be time to consider changing the formula you are using.
Thankfully, with modern advances in formula production (creating contents that are similar to breastmilk), there are many options available for babies with sensitive tummies. Here we look at some of the best formula options to help babies minimize the spit up and gassy symptoms.
What Causes Spit Up?
Gulping Air While Feeding
It can be said that the most common cause of spitting up in babies is the buildup of gas in the stomach.
Roughly, 70% of all babies are affected at some point by excess gas. This often happens when babies swallow more air than milk when feeding, especially when bottle-feeding.
There are things you can do while feeding to prevent excess gas buildup. Be sure to burp your baby after a feeding or during if she seems to lose interest (like she is full) before she has finished her bottle. Feed in a quiet place away from distractions, and hold her upright to ensure proper flow and digestion.
If you find that your baby is still gassy and spitting up frequently, it may be due to her formula. Certain manmade products can be difficult for her to digest, leading to gas buildup in her stomach. Excessive crying, particularly in colicky babies, can also fill up the stomach with gas. A change in formula can help to alleviate these symptoms.
Similar to gas buildup, reflux occurs when food backs up in your baby’s stomach, causing it to come back up in the form of spit up.
It is rarely a serious cause for concern, and usually resolves by the time babies are about 18 months of age.
Keep an eye out for symptoms that can signify a more serious condition. These include your baby’s inability to gain weight, any mucus or blood in her spit up or stool, or consistent projectile spit up.
When your little one is unable to talk and has not been exposed to anything yet, you often only learn about her possible allergies through trial and error. This includes sensitivity to certain proteins and dairy intolerance, both of which are issues that may arise from your baby’s formula.
It is important that you know what a milk allergy looks like so you can change your baby’s formula. Symptoms can either manifest immediately or set in more gradually, within minutes to a few days after ingestion.
Gradual onset symptoms can look like any other illness, including diarrhea, vomiting, gagging, or a refusal to eat. More serious symptoms, which typically show up more rapidly, include wheezing, swelling, hives, anaphylaxis, or bloody stool.
Be sure to see your pediatrician should any of these symptoms arise. They should be able to help you narrow down the cause and recommend another formula for your baby.
What to look for?
For most formula-feeding parents, price is the biggest deciding factor. You want to make sure your formula choice fits your personal budget, as your baby will be eating quite often and going through formula quickly.
You also want to consider that a high price tag does not necessarily mean you are getting a better product.
Not only is overall cost important to consider, you want to make sure you are getting the right bang for your buck. There is no “standard” size for cans of formula, and you can even buy in bulk at stores like Costco or websites like Amazon, so make sure you are getting the most for your money.
You do not want to be surprised by an empty can at feeding time.
Depending on your dietary beliefs (vegetarian, kosher, etc.) or your baby’s personal sensitivity (milk allergy, protein sensitivity, etc.), you will need to consider the make-up of your formula.
There are soy and vitamin-enriched options for parents who need to find something a bit more customized to their needs.
Best Formulas for Spit up and Gas
This formula comes from a well known brand, and is specifically created with sensitive tummies in mind.
It comes in a 22.2 ounce container, which makes about 160 fluid ounces.
The special probiotic L. reuteri can reduce crying by 50% in colicky babies, which can reduce gas buildup, as well as aid in digestion.
It contains small proteins that are easier to digest, probiotics for digestion colic, reduced lactose, and no GMO’s. This makes it easier on babies’ underdeveloped digestive systems.
The formula can be tricky to mix and may need a higher amount of water to get the consistency required.
A trusted brand by parents and doctors alike, Similac’s Sensitive formula helps to alleviate issues that arise due to lactose intolerance while remaining milk-based. The cans also run a bit larger than others do, at 34.9 ounces, which makes roughly 258 fluid ounces of formula.
If you are looking for something that is easy on your baby’s lactose sensitive stomach that is still milk-based, this formula is a great choice.
Similac’s unique OptiGRO formula provides optimum nutrition for your little one. This special blend includes DHA for brain development, vitamin E for proper growth, and lutein for eye development.
Many parents claim that their babies developed constipation after using this formula a few times. This is something to consider, as you do not want to trade one problem for the opposite.
If your family or baby has specific dietary needs that eliminate the possibility of milk consumption, this soy formula by Enfamil is a great choice.
You can purchase by the can (a 22 ounce can makes about 141.75 fluid ounces) or convenient premixed bottles (6 bottles – 8 fluid ounces each). Be sure you pay attention to which you are getting if you are ordering online.
This formula is ideal for babies who have milk allergies due to the soy based formula.
Additional proteins and nutrients also support cognitive development in babies.
Just as with any other soy product, it is harder to produce, which causes the price tag to be a little higher than milk-based products.
Similac has created a formula with baby spit up issues specifically in mind. Rice starch makes this formula unique, which has been shown to reduce gas and spit up.
It comes in a 1.41-pound (22.56-ounce) tub, which creates about 184 fluid ounces of mixed formula.
Has been clinically proven to reduce spit up by 54% in infants compared to standard milk-based formulas due to the rice starch.
Includes the special nutrients; OptiGRO: DHA, lutein, vitamin E.
Again, made with Similac’s unique OptiGRO blend, this formula supports proper physical growth, as well as brain and eye development.
The downside to rice starch is that it is difficult to mix, often leaving the formula with a grainy consistency, which can clog bottle nipples and potentially lead to constipation in babies.
Another great formula from Enfamil, Nutramigen with Enflora LGG is hypoallergenic and great for babies with lactose allergies.
It has also been seen to reduce the risk for other allergies in the future, such as eczema and asthma.
Just like with their soy formula, this one comes in both powder (largest is 19.8 ounce can – 124.74 fluid ounces) and premixed liquid (various options available)
This formula is fortified with iron, and comes packed with multiple vitamins and nutrients, and probiotics to aid in babies’ digestion.
The hypoallergenic formula is perfect for children with milk allergies, and can help prevent future allergies from manifesting.
Every formula has some sort of odor to it, but many parents say that this one is a bit harder to stomach than others are.
Our Top Choice
While each formula we reviewed has its own unique strengths and features, we would have to pick Gerber’s Good Start formula as the best all-around formula. With its comfort proteins and added probiotics, your baby’s digestion is likely to improve greatly, with less spit up and gas.
It is relatively inexpensive, as formulas go, and you get a good number of bottles out of each container.
The issue with mixing will likely become easier with each use, as you will get used to the amount of water you need to get the correct consistency.
What do you think of our list? Let us know in the comments below, and share this list with other parents who may be looking for a new formula for their baby’s sensitive tummy.