How to help a child that farts, a lot!

What is normal and what is not normal when it comes to farting and children? And what can you do about it? There are several factors to consider and many things you can do to banish the gas for good.

Are you or did you breast feed?

It is possible that upon ingestion, foods that produce gas in the mother can go on to cause gas in an infant. A good sign of this is when the infant farts incessantly within two hours of the last feeding. The solution is to identify what personally gives you (the mother) gas, eliminate it from your diet and then record any improvements. Eliminate the suspected culprits for at least 3 days before observing. Keep a diet diary and log any of your own gas symptoms against foods you are eating. Common culprits include dairy products, gluten, legumes, FODMAPS and other unique food intolerances.

Are you or did you bottle feed?

If you bottle-fed a child that farts a lot, there is a possibility they have developed food sensitivities early on. This is even more likely if they were bottle fed formulas based on cow diary or soy ingredients. Other food sensitivity symptoms to look out for in children include diarrhoea, hives or dry, red patches of skin.

Has you child taken their share of antibiotics?

At the first sign of infection or fever, many doctors are quick to prescribe a round of antibiotics to children. Whilst antibiotics have their place in modern medicine they are currently overprescribed to everyone. Like adults, when a child takes antibiotics, their natural gut flora is wiped out leaving next to no good bacteria to keep the bad bacteria in check. This is when digestive symptoms such as gas can present. Repetitive antibiotics can also affects the child’s overall immune system as good bacteria plays a role in maintaining GALT tissue (immune tissue, of which 80% resides in the gut lining).

Is the child’s diet heavy in sugars, wheat, dairy and yeast?

Sugar, wheat, dairy products and yeast feed bad bacteria (and fungi such as candida) in the colon. When bad bacteria proliferates, good bacteria in the gut is unable to do it’s job properly and food can start to ferment in the gut. This is the main cause of gas (and bloating). These foods also compound the problem as they commonly incite an immune response which inflames the lining of the gut (this is what is known as a food intolerance).

Do you have a pet or does the child play a lot outdoors?

When a child presents with any digestive symptoms, it is always worth investigating whether they have contracted a parasite. Low-grade parasitic infections are common in children, especially those who have pets and like or play outside in the dirt or grass.

Has your child had gastro or food poisoning in the past?

One of the most common causes of foul gas in anyone is Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). If a child has had gastroenteritis (with vomiting) or food poisoning at any point, and they are presenting with extreme gas, it is very likely they have a case of SIBO. This problem is compounded when the child is prescribed antibiotics that whilst temporarily making him or her feel better ultimately wipe out the good gut bacteria (that keep the bad bacteria in check). And so the gas begins.

So what can you do today to stop your child from farting so much?

  • Consider specialised testing for food intolerances.. Once these intolerances have been identified they can be removed from the diet and the gas should alleviate significantly.
  • Consider testing for SIBO, particularly if you child has had a bout of gastroenteritis or antibiotics. Again, I recommend a specific test but you may like to first do the free online test on your child’s behalf. https://sibotest.com/quizzes/1 . For more info on SIBO please read this post. Should you decide to go ahead with the formalised breath test and result comes back positive, the child should eliminate all FODMAPS from the diet and take supplements such as probiotics, glutamine and Berberine prescribed by a qualified health practitioner.
  • If you think a parasitic infection is a possibility, consider a faecal PCR stool test. Your local GP can order these as well as most natural health practitioners.
  • If testing isn’t a possibility you may like to try an elimination diet. Keep a diet diary for a week and record what the child eats. When you write down the meal, observe whether the child has gas or not. Make sure to write down how long the gas took to present and how long it lasted after particular foods. When you have identified what is likely to be causing the gas, eliminate it completely from the child’s diet for a period of 2-4 weeks. Common culprits include diary products (especially from a cow), wheat, gluten, yeast and FODMAPS. Look for improvement in this period. At the end of the 2-4 week period slowly reintroduce the food group you had cut out. If symptoms start to present quickly again you will have you answer. Cut this food group from the diet completely but also see a naturopath or nutritionist for therapeutic natural medicines that will restore gut function long term.
  • Go to your local health food store and start the child immediately on a good, broad-spectrum probiotic. The best thing to do is take a capsule and empty half into his or her food at breakfast and then again at dinner.
  • Make sure your kids wash their hands properly after playing outside or with the family pet. It is a good idea to keep an old toothbrush by the sink as well so they can scrub under their fingers nails where parasites like to hide.
  • In an acute situation, where for examples the gas is really bad and you around the way out to friends, you can give the child a half dose of activated charcoal which is available at most pharmacies and health food stores.

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