Understanding your baby’s wind

Wind is the term used to describe the small amounts of air your baby swallows as she feeds – this air is often brought up later in the form of a burp. Most babies will become uncomfortable shortly after a feed if the air they have swallowed has not been brought up – and this is where the art of burping is so important to know, because a burped baby is usually a settled baby.

When does my baby need burping?

  • Not all babies need burping, and in fact, most of those who need a lot of burping as newborns will grow out of needing burping within months of birth.
  • Breastfed babies generally need less burping than bottle fed babies.
  • Discomfort from wind will usually become obvious if you lie your baby down to sleep straight after feeding, or if he falls asleep while feeding. Withing minutes of lying down, your baby will begin to squirm and grunt and perhaps cry until you hold him upright to burp him.
  • If wind is the problem, your baby should settle quickly again after burping.

How to burp your baby

While many people associate wind with the air that is passed from both ends – bottom and mouth – these airs are quite different! Wind from the bottom, also called a fart, is created as a by-product of the digestion of milk being absorbed in his bowel – this air has not been swallowed.

Farts can cause your baby to feel suddenly uncomfortable for a minute or two, become red in the face, squirm, grunt and cry before passing the wind – and perhaps a bowel motion as well!

For some parents, get the elusive burp after every feeds can become a little obsesive! Generally, if your baby is going to burp, he will do it in the first couple of minutes after feeding. Sitting him upright, or placing him over your shoulder while gently stroking or patting his back should get results – if there are any results to be had!

However, if your baby remains irritable, unsettled and cries, then it is unlikely due to ‘wind’, just probably the normal fussy behaviour that is common for most newborn babies from about 2 to 12 weeks of age, or perhaps due to reflux. If your baby remains unsettled, even after he burps, then his behaviour is likely to be for the same reasons.

Do wind drops work?

Some parents will purchase wind drop products. These products contain a medication called simethicone in drop form that is given before a feed (but no more than 12 times a day), and works to collect up the small bubbles of air to make bigger bubbles which may helo your baby to burp more easily. Some parents are big fans of these drops, while others don’t think they work at all.

Burping tips

If you want to ‘wind’ your baby, or help him to burp, you will usually need to place him in an upright position by:

  • Sitting him up after a feed for a few minutes and gently patting or rubbing him on the back. You will need to support his head while burping.
  • Placing your baby over your shoulder, rubbing his back, or moving him slightly back and forth. It is a good idea to put a cloth nappy or fabric square on your shoulder in case your baby vomits while burping.

This article was written for Kidspot New Zealand.

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