Here’s a sentence I don’t say everyday – let’s talk about burping and wind! Lovely topic huh? You’ve probably never thought of burping as important, but for babies in particular, it serves an important function.
When babies feed, they often swallow air which can cause air bubbles to become trapped in their tummy. Because their bodies are not mature enough, and because they can’t move around for themselves yet, they can’t get rid of the air and relieve the pain for themselves. That’s where never ending rounds of burping and winding (and lots of muslin cloths!) come in.
But what does all this have to do with sleep I hear you ask? Well if you have ever tried getting to sleep with wind trapped in your digestive system you will know just how uncomfortable it can be. Babies are no different. They can really struggle to settle if their tummy is full of air bubbles that cannot escape up or down – and it’s pretty obvious that a windy baby will not be a happy and relaxed baby.
Who does trapped wind affect? Wind is extremely common for new-born babies and can last up to the age of about three months when their digestive system matures and they get used to coping with milk better. Some babies can go on to suffer for several months, whereas others may have no problems at all. Premature babies also tend to suffer more as their digestive system is less mature.
It is thought that trapped wind can be worse in bottle fed babies as they can easily take down too much air while sucking on the teat of the bottle. Breast fed babies tend to be more able to control the flow of milk and trap less air, plus they also tend to feed in a more upright position, but they can still be affected by wind too.
Causes of trapped wind
· Being a young baby (naturally having an immature body, poor core and limited mobility)
· Feeding too fast
· Taking in air during feeding
· Allergy and intolerance
Effects – Trapped wind can cause bloating, cramping and pain for babies.
They tend to show their discomfort by being less settled, drawing their legs up to their chests, breaking off in discomfort halfway through a feed, or even thrashing around and screaming after a feed.
Feeding and sleeping can both be thrown into chaos if wind issues aren’t resolved.
Solutions to ease the problem
· Smaller, more frequent feeds
· Holding infants more upright and leaning forward
· Changing burping position
· Frequent burping and paced bottle feeding if the infant is bottle fed
· Avoiding mixing formula too vigorously as it can produce an aerated froth on the top of the bottle
· Reducing pressure over the abdomen
· Tummy time
· Warm baths
· Avoiding allergens that cause inflammation and fermentation in the gut
Burping positions to try
If your little one is suffering with wind and struggling to get the air out (either up or down!), try these different burping positions to see if they help. Always make sure that you are holding and supporting your baby securely.
Over-the-Lap Burp – Drape your baby over one thigh so that it presses upward against her tummy. Support her head with one hand while you pat or rub her back with the other hand.
Over-the-Hand Burp – Sit baby on your lap facing away from you. Place the heel of your hand against her tummy, with her chin resting on the top of your hand. Lean her forward, resting most of her weight against the heel of your hand to provide counter pressure on her tummy, and pat her on the back to move up the air bubbles.
One Arm burping – This position is particularly helpful when you’re burping baby while you’re busy. You can simply stroll around the house and have one hand free. Make sure that you are able to hold baby securely and watch out for any spit up!
Night-time Burping – It is not always necessary to burp your baby during night feedings as they often feed in a more relaxed manner and swallow less air. If wind seems to be causing problems at night, you can avoid sitting up and using traditional burping by draping baby up over your hip as you lie on your side.
Sling Burping – If the air just won’t come up, wear your baby in a sling and move about as normal until the air comes up.
Knees-to-Chest Burp – Sometimes babies need help not only getting air out the top end, but also out the bottom! Flex your baby’s knees up to her chest and help her to pass excess wind
Rachael at The Sleep Sanctuary
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