June 15, 2021

What Are Your Formula Options for a Gassy Baby?

A different formula may help babies with gas or other digestive problems — find out which one may be best for your baby.

person holds small baby to their chest

Feeding your baby can be a special moment as you look into their eyes and they gaze back lovingly. But feeding time is less sweet when you’re worried about your child fussing or being in pain afterward. If your baby has bouts of gas, constipation or acid reflux after eating, it could be the formula.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

The good news: There are a variety of formulas available, some specifically made for gassy babies or those with sensitive digestive systems. Pediatric dietitian Andrea Adler, RD, CSP, CSPCC, LD, discusses your formula options and when to consider trying something new.

When is it time to consider switching formula?

A little spit-up or gas is perfectly normal and doesn’t mean you have to run out to the store for a different formula, reassures Adler. “All babies have some vomiting. Many are what I call ‘happy spitters.’ They have some formula or spit-up come out of their mouths, but it’s not shooting across the room,” she says. “If your child is gaining weight and growing well, the spit-up is no big deal. It might just mean a lot of laundry.”

However, consult with your pediatrician and discuss trying another formula if you see:

  • Large quantities of spit-up after eating.
  • Fussiness and crying following feedings.
  • Projectile vomiting.
  • Bloody poop.
  • No weight gain.

What are some formula options?

The formula aisle can be overwhelming with so many products to choose from. Here’s a breakdown to help you sort through your choices:

Traditional formula

Infant formula is a mix of proteins, carbohydrates (sugars) and fats designed to resemble the composition of breast milk. Standard infant formula is based on cow’s milk but it’s not the same as drinking a glass of it.


Formula contains additional lactose (sugar that occurs naturally in milk), and the butterfat has been replaced with vegetable oils. For most families who use formula, it’s a great choice.

Formula for babies with gas, constipation and reflux

Some babies can’t tolerate typical formula. For them, a specialized formula that contains different proteins or carbohydrates may work better. These products are often labeled “may help with gas, fussiness or colic,” says Adler. Additional specialty formulas include:

  • Hypoallergenic formula: This product still contains proteins (casein or whey) found in milk. But they’ve been broken down into smaller, easier-to-digest proteins. It’s also known as predigested or elemental formula.
  • Lactose-free formula: Although rare, some babies can’t digest lactose. This formula type replaces lactose with another naturally occurring sugar found in foods, such as glucose or sucrose.
  • Baby formula for acid reflux: For babies that vomit after feeding, doctors may recommend an anti-reflux formula. It has a thicker consistency than regular formula, which helps babies keep the food down.
  • Soy formula: Soy replaces cow’s milk as the primary source of protein in this formula. It is used by vegan families or as a personal preference.

Which type of formula should you try first?

If you’re considering changing formulas, speak with your pediatrician first. Your doctor can recommend which type of formula may work best for your baby’s symptoms.

For example, if your child has colic, your pediatrician may suggest a lactose-free formula first, says Adler. If your baby is arching their back after feeding, your doctor might choose an anti-reflux formula. Or you may even find out that your child’s symptoms are related to something other than the formula you’re using.

What brand of baby formula is best?

By law, all infant formulas, even generic or less expensive ones, must meet minimum nutritional requirements. But, recommends Adler, “I’d stick with the major formula companies rather than choosing generic. The well-known formula brands often contain other key nutrients that make it as similar to breast milk as possible, which may provide added benefits.”


If your doctor recommends switching formulas, don’t expect an overnight change in your baby, cautions Adler. It could take a few days to weeks to get the old formula out of your baby’s system.

“It’s not something that you want to try for just a couple of days and say, ‘This isn’t working. Let me try something else,’ unless the symptoms are getting worse with the new product. If that’s the case, then definitely stop feeding it to your baby,” she says. “But otherwise, remain patient. It may take a few weeks before you see an improvement.”

Once you’ve worked with your doctor to find a formula that’s right for your baby, the gas and discomfort should go away. And feeding time will once again be a time of happy, loving gazes.

Related Articles

Close up of hand holding a scoop of powder baby formula over container of powder baby formula
February 23, 2024
Feeding Your Baby: How and When to Supplement With Formula

When breastfeeding doesn’t go as planned, you may need to supplement with formula or donor breast milk — and that’s OK

baby crying
November 2, 2023
Why Is Your Baby Crying?

They could be hungry, gassy, colicky or sleepy, or even too hot or too cold

Person sleeping in a bed using a wedge pillow.
August 15, 2023
Will a Wedge Pillow Help My Acid Reflux?

For some lucky people, these pillows can eliminate the need for medications or surgery

Mom burps gassy baby who sits on her lap.
May 21, 2023
Why Gripe Water Isn’t the Best Answer for Your Fussy, Gassy or Colicky Baby

Gripe water isn’t regulated by the FDA, and research doesn’t support its use

Image of apple cider vinegar in a decanter
February 21, 2023
Apple Cider Vinegar for Acid Reflux: Does It Work?

There’s not enough research to know, but it’s OK to try it for most

Woman clutching her chest.
December 6, 2022
Have Heartburn? Here’s How To Find Relief for Acid Reflux

Lifestyle changes such as diet and weight loss or medication such as antacids can bring relief

Child with head back gargling water.
August 23, 2022
What Causes Hiccups and How To Get Rid of Them

Here’s five ways to cut your hiccups short

Baby formula being scooped out of a container
May 30, 2022
What Should You Do About the Baby Formula Shortage?

You should never make your own infant formula, and here’s why

Trending Topics

close up of keto gummies
Do Keto Gummies Work for Weight Loss? Are They Safe?

Research is inconclusive whether or not these supplements are helpful

Person in yellow tshirt and blue jeans relaxing on green couch in living room reading texts on their phone.
Here’s How Many Calories You Naturally Burn in a Day

Your metabolism may torch 1,300 to 2,000 calories daily with no activity

Older person postioned sideways showing dowager hump.
Dowager’s Hump: What It Is and How To Get Rid of It

The hump at the base of your neck may be caused by osteoporosis or poor posture