10 ways to relieve trapped wind | Infacol

10 ways to relieve trapped wind

Young, healthy, thriving babies often behave as if they’re in pain.  When a baby pulls up their legs, arches their back, clenches their fists, goes red in the face and cries loudly, it’s easy to assume they have wind or ‘colic’. Though there is little scientific evidence to prove that trapped air in the gut is the cause for crying, for around 1 in 5 babies, colic is generally assumed to be the reason for their distress.

When will you stop crying?

Crying in young babies tends to peak between the ages of 6-8 weeks.  And although some crying is normal, when a baby is crying because of colic, it’s not unusual for crying to increase to more than three hours on more than three days of the week. Crying can be intense and is often worse in the late afternoons and evenings.

Generally, by around the age of four months, babies with colic tend to become calmer and cry less.

If you could only do a big burp!

It’s easy for parents to imagine pockets of air in their baby’s stomach. Visions of bubbles floating around inside the gut then leads parents to the obvious solution that if only these air bubbles could be released, their baby would be happier. Though the truth is that colic is due to a range of factors relating to a baby’s overall immaturity, not just their stomach. Generally, ‘colic’ is used to describe a baby’s behaviour, rather than a specific condition.

As they become older, most babies tend to become more predictable, sleep more and are happier.   This transition doesn’t happen quickly. Gradually, over a few week’s babies just become easier to manage.

How do I help my baby to bring up their wind?

Whether you’re breast or bottle feeding, give your baby the opportunity to burp midway and at the end of each feed. Your baby may need to burp more often if they are feeding very quickly and seem to be swallowing a lot of air.

General burping facts

  • It’s common for babies to bring up a little milk when they burp. As long as this is only a small amount or a ‘possit’, then it’s generally fine. If, however, your baby is projectile vomiting or bringing up green fluid (bile), they need to be checked by a doctor.
  • Some babies burp easily and don’t need much encouragement, others take a little time.
  • Give them a couple of minutes of sitting upright and a few pats. If they’re impatient to start feeding again, follow their cues.

10 top burping tips

  1. It can help to follow their cues when they’re feeding – if they seem uncomfortable, are squirming around and seem to want a break from feeding, this may be due to needing to burp.
  2. Sit your baby upright on your lap, supporting their head and back.
  3. Gently pat or rub their back until they burp.
  4. You could also try sitting your baby upright in your arms with their head resting against your shoulder. Either way, what’s useful is the upright position.
  5. If your baby doesn’t burp, don’t feel you need to wait for ages for them to do so.
  6. Most babies don’t burp when they’re sleeping. If your baby seems tired and hasn’t burped, place them into their cot for a sleep.
  7. If your baby wakes when you place them into their cot, pick them up and try to burp them again.
  8. Experiment with different teats and flow rates if you’re bottle feeding and feel your baby is swallowing a lot of air. The harder the screw cap is secured, the slower the flow of milk.
  9. If you’re breastfeeding and have a rapid ‘let-down’ and feel your baby is feeding too quickly, it may help to express until your milk is flowing less quickly, then offer your baby a feed.
  10. If your baby is unsettled, try lying them on their back and gently massage their tummy. Some babies like to have their legs moved as if they’re riding a bicycle. Just do this gently, especially if your baby has just finished a feed.

Speak with your baby’s Child Health Nurse, GP or paediatrician if you’re worried about your baby’s behaviour.

Written for Infacol by Jane Barry, Midwife and Child Health Nurse, July 2022.