Every mum, whether she is brand new to having her first baby and is exhausted or has experience with a child or more, quickly learns that her windy baby is an unhappy baby. Actually, these babies can be downright cranky and challenging to care for at times causing a great deal of stress and concern to an already tired caregiver. The good news is that there are steps you can take to provide relief for your baby which also means more calm hours for mum. Let's take a look at the options you have to bring relief.
Wind is the term used for those air bubbles that your baby swallows during feeding, when crying, or even when the baby is yawning. Newborns often get air bubbles trapped which makes them uncomfortable and tearful.
Signs of wind in babies include squirming, crying, or generally looking uncomfortable. Some babies look as though they are in pain when you put them down after feedings. Sometimes the pockets of air may have been building up for days after feedings. This is especially common after late afternoon or evening feedings.
The most important thing to remember is to always keep your head about you at all times to remain calm. Avoid excessive tears, from both your small wonder and yourself, by discovering the right winding technique for your little one.
After each feeding, and partway through each feeding, take a few minutes for winding. If the baby seems happy feeding, don’t worry about interrupting to wind since this might cause the baby to cry and gulp in excess air unnecessarily. It can take some time to soothe and bring up the trapped air, so be patient. Make sure you get between 3 to 4 good burps with each winding. However, if the baby doesn’t bring up trapped air bubbles after your helpful attempts of a few minutes, rest assured that it probably means there is no need to continue the process indefinitely. If the baby still seems uncomfortable, try a different position or technique. If your baby is content, falling asleep during or after the feeding, don't worry about waking them to wind.
In the early days, a baby’s digestive system can cause a lot of discomforts. Most babies experience this beginning at about 2 to 4 weeks of age, and it often lasts for 6 weeks. The good news is that after about 3 months of age, the baby’s digestive system matures and doesn’t need to be winded as often.
The fastest way to bring relief by getting rid of this excess air is through the process of winding. Some babies may show signs of discomfort part way through their feeding until they are winded. Try each technique, and choose the position that works best with your baby.
After feeding, keep your baby in an upright position, or walk around with your baby in your arms. As you walk, add a gentle little bounce to your step to help bring up the trapped air. Some general tips to keep in mind is that many babies relax with skin-to-skin contact. When they are relaxed, the wind may break more easily. Provide comfort for the baby by patiently feeding, holding, rocking, or even softly singing. Always respond quickly to your baby’s cry. Leaving the baby to cry will only cause more air to be swallowed and worsen the discomfort.
Place a cloth over your shoulder to catch any milk or spit that may come up during winding. Position the baby over the cloth on your shoulder, and support the baby with your hand on the same side. While the baby is in the upright position, looking over your shoulder, gently rub the baby’s back in a circular motion with your free hand. You can also move the baby up higher on your shoulder so your shoulder bone rests more against their tummy.
Sit the baby upright on your knee, supporting the back of their neck with one hand and their jawline just below their mouth, not their throat, with the other so they do not fall forward. Make sure you have good support of the baby, and then gently rub the back. In addition to gently rubbing the back, it may help to slowly rotate the baby in a circular position with one hand supporting the jaw and the other on the baby’s back to keep them secured on your knee.
Another position that many babies find soothing is on their tummy laying across your lap. First, put a cloth on your lap to protect it from milk that could be brought up during this process. Place the baby face down on your lap so that the baby is facing sideways. Always keep the baby’s head slightly higher than the rest of the body. Support the baby with your knees or hand, and gently rub the baby’s back with your other hand.
An alternative to the lap position is to place the baby tummy down across your forearm. Gently pat or rub their back with your other hand in a circular motion as you slightly bounce back and forth, up and down, or walk around the room with the baby cradled on your forearm.
Another position to get the trapped air bubbles out of your baby is to sit the baby upright on your lap and lean the baby forward with their tummy against your hand. The pressure of your hand on their tummy might bring relief. Gently rub the baby’s back with your spare hand in a circular motion or pat very gently. If you choose this position, make sure you have a cloth ready to catch any liquids that may come up.
Regardless of which method of feeding you use, both breastfed and bottle-fed babies will need to be winded. You can often ease some amount of air that they swallow by changing the angle at which they feed even ever so slightly.
Babies who are breastfed are less prone to excess trapped air bubbles since they have more control over their milk flow. However, if the baby feeds quickly or if your milk is flowing fast, air may still build up and become trapped. Make sure your baby is positioned at an upright angle and that they have properly latched on. Ask your nurse or lactation consultant for assistance if necessary. Sometimes, hand expressing a small amount of milk before beginning the feeding can help slow down the flow of milk and help ease the discomfort. A good time to wind the baby during breastfeeding is when you switch sides.
If you are feeding with formula or expressing milk for bottle feeding, wind your baby often during and after each feeding to help ease any built-up air. Reduce the flow of the feed from the bottle or try a different sized hole in the teat. If the hole is too big, the milk flow quickly becomes too rapid causing more air bubbles to become trapped while feeding. If you're nervous about bottle feeding your baby and need some handy tips, click through to find out how to bottle feed a baby.
Many babies get trapped air causing baby wind at night, especially in the late afternoon or the evening period. This nighttime crankiness is sometimes referred to as, "The witching hour". It can be even more challenging for mum at night since she is tired from her day's work and wants to sleep. Most babies experience being unsettled during this time frame though some suffer worse than others. If the baby falls asleep during feeding at night but wakes up frequently because of stomach discomfort, try sitting the baby up when they fall asleep and give gentle back pats.
If after several minutes your baby still seems to be uncomfortable, you could try giving the baby a warm bath to help the baby relax. After the bath, give your baby a gentle tummy massage by softly rubbing your hands over the baby’s tummy in a clockwise and circular motion. After attempting to help ease your baby's trapped air bubbles, if your baby is still upset, there may be something else wrong. Check to make sure if the baby is still hungry, has a dirty nappy, or isn’t feeling well. If your baby is often uncomfortable after winding or during feedings and you are unable to provide comfort, never hesitate to contact your doctor for further evaluation.