How to hold and wind your baby?
Wind can be a very common problem for babies, especially newborns who are just beginning to process milk or formula for the first time. Wind can be distressing not only for the baby but also for the parents, dealing with a distraught infant and feeling as though you cannot help can be very overwhelming. If you believe your baby is suffering from wind there are a few things to bear in mind.
Firstly, it is important to know what causes wind in babies. When feeding (either bottle or breast) babies may swallow small amounts of air, the amount of air swallowed can depend on the baby’s latch. For instance if there is a lip or tongue tie affecting their feeding, more air may be swallowed than a baby that can create a tighter seal. If your baby has swallowed air and is unable to clear this air from their system, it can cause pain and discomfort resulting in an upset and many times, inconsolable baby.
To prevent wind, it is essential to burp your baby after each feeding. This is especially crucial in newborns who can have the most trouble bringing up trapped wind. Generally babies will burp within a few minutes of feeding, if you wait too long to attempt to get the air out you may miss the chance.
There is no need to wake your baby to burp them if they have fallen asleep during the feed, if this has happened, baby is already comfortable. If your baby does need a helping hand there are number of ways you can assist, the three most common ways are described below.
Best ways to wind a baby
Over the shoulder – This one is most parents go to and is very common. Baby is placed with their head resting over your shoulder and their tummy resting against your chest. You then rub or pat or pat their back until they burp. If you have a newborn you may need to support their head whilst rubbing or patting.
Sitting on your knee – This one can be a little fiddlier but may be quite effective. Baby sits on your knee, leaning slightly forward, and facing away from you. With one hand support your baby’s jaw between your thumb and first finger allowing the palm of your hand to support the chest and baby’s weight, use your other hand to rub or pat the back. Ensure you are not applying any pressure to the windpipe/neck area.
Lying across your knees – This one is quite simple, sit with your knees together at a right angle, place baby tummy down across your knees, use one hand to support the baby’s head using your other hand to rub or pat their back.
If you have tried all of the above and have still not been able to provide any relief, the air had most probably processed through the body too far and you will not be able to bring it up.
Massage and baby wind relief
The other sort of trapped wind you may encounter is from the other end, and it happens when your baby’s digestive tract is struggling with digestion. For this discomfort, you may want to try a warm bath and baby massage. The combination of targeted wind relieving massage movements and the comforting warm water can help relax and calm baby. Ensure you have baby in a nice warm area as a cold baby will not tolerate massage for very long, you may wish to use a suitable oil or baby moisturiser to perform the massage. If baby enjoys the massage it can be nice to include this as baby’s nightly routine, setting a repetitive routine at night-time may help baby sleep better overnight. Some massage movements you can try are:
Abdominal Circles – Using one hand, start at the top of baby’s abdomen. Using a gentle pressure perform clockwise circle on baby’s tummy using the palm of your hand. This movement is to help encouragement movement through the digestive tract, for this reason it is very important you are circling clockwise.
Bicycle legs – This can be quite an effective movement for many babies. Hold baby by the legs (generally just above the knee) and move baby’s legs up and around as if they were riding a bike.
Legs up – Holding onto baby’s legs, bring them up, and apply pressure on the lower abdomen for a couple of seconds before bringing baby’s legs back down and gently pulling them straight. Keep in mind babies legs do not completely straighten so if you meet any resistance do not apply any further pressure. Repeat this motion as many times as required. You can also alternate between applying pressure to the left hand side of the abdomen, the right hand side, and then centre.
Toes to nose – Keeping baby’s legs straight, lift them directly up so the toes head straight up to the nose, this is putting gentle pressure on the abdomen helping to move any trapped wind.
Tummy time – Tummy time is great for not only strengthening neck muscles baby needs to start holding its head up but can be beneficial for the removal of wind. Lying baby on their tummy, gently turn their head to the side, and do a slow gentle love heart movement: using both hands, go straight up either side of the spine, move your hands out around the shoulders and then back down creating a love heart shape.
Read more on how to massage your baby properly here.
Other ways to help wind your baby
If you baby is still struggling with wind despite burping techniques and baby massage, you may wish to consult your healthcare professional regarding what else can be done to help your little one. A couple of other thing to look into are:
Gripe water or wind relief formula – These are generally natural products which can help relieve baby’s discomfort, they can be given before or after feeding baby but you should discuss your options with your doctor before purchasing one of these.
Anti – Colic bottles – If your baby is bottle fed keep an eye out for anti-colic bottles. There are many different brands that provide these, they differ slightly however have one thing in commons – vents. Ventilation holes enable air to escape the bottle meaning baby cannot swallow it.
Lactation consultant – If you are breastfeeding your baby could be having issues creating a strong seal while feeding which is causing the excess air. A lactation consultant will be able to view and advise on your feeding technique and may be able to give you pointer on how to help baby latch in the most effective way.
If you have tried all of these and you feel your baby is still struggling with wind, you may, unfortunately, just need to wait it out. As tough as it can seem, most babies will struggle less with trapped wind as they grow, with most baby’s growing out of these issues by around 16 weeks. This is due to the fact baby’s digestive system is continually growing and advancing and are better able to deal with the influx of food and drinks each day.