Trapped wind is no fun for anyone, and unfortunately, it upsets babies too!
The truth is, it’s normal for babies to get trapped wind. But, to help you understand your little one's trapped wind symptoms and turn frustration, frowns and cries into giggles and smiles, we've created this handy guide. Read on to learn more about the causes, symptoms, and ways to ease your baby’s trapped wind.
What causes trapped wind in a baby?
Babies get wind in their tummies because they can swallow a lot of air when they feed from either your breast or a bottle, when they cry, yawn, or use a soother. As your baby’s digestive system is still developing, it can be difficult for them to get rid of this trapped gas (by burping or passing wind like we do as adults). This can make them uncomfortable.
Don’t worry though, trapped wind is common in babies from the newborn stage up to around three months. This is when their digestive system is maturing and they’re getting used to digesting milk.
Baby trapped wind can occur whether your little one is breastfed or bottle fed. It's also worth noting that some babies will experience quite bad trapped wind, while others may not at all. Premature babies may be more likely to suffer from trapped wind.
What are the symptoms of baby wind?
If your baby is experiencing trapped wind, you may notice they…
- Become fussy and uncomfortable during or after a feed
- Spit up or is sick more than usual
- Cry, turn red, or look like they’re in pain after a feed
- Have a tummy that feels hard or firm due to bloating
- Struggle to sleep
- Clench their fists
- Arch their back and pull their legs up to their tummy
Although these symptoms can be upsetting, gas or wind isn't usually anything to worry about. Some experts believe trapped wind is more a feeling of discomfort for babies than pain, and most of the time it can be easily relived!
How to wind a baby
To help relieve baby wind, you should encourage them to burp after every feed. It may also help to wind or burp your baby during a feed, when they naturally take a break from the bottle or breast.
Some little ones will find it easy to burp, while others might need a little help. You can pat or rub your baby’s back gently to encourage them to bring up wind. Remember that some of their feed may come with it, so be prepared with a bib or muslin.
You’ll soon find the best way to wind your baby, but you can try…
- Over the shoulder – While sitting or walking, put your baby over your shoulder. Then, support their bottom with one arm, and gently pat their back with your free hand.
- Sitting up – Let your baby sit sideways on your lap. Gently lean them forwards and support their chin with your hand. Gently pat or rub their back with your free hand.
- Face-down – Lie your baby face-down on your lap. Gently hold their chin with one hand and pat or rub their back with the other.
- Tummy massage – If the above methods don’t work, you can try lying your little one on their back and gently massage their tummy in a circular clockwise motion. This not only helps move any trapped gas through and out of their digestive system, but it also provides pain relief and a lovely bonding moment by releasing the hormone oxytocin. Movement can help too, so try moving their legs back and forward – like they're riding a bike.
How to prevent a baby getting trapped wind
The most common cause of baby wind is when they swallow too much air when feeding from breast or bottle.
Preventing baby wind when breastfeeding
If you're breastfeeding and your baby is experiencing trapped wind, they may not be latching onto your nipple effectively. Try sitting them upright during feeds. If that doesn’t help and they are still experiencing a lot of gas, speak to your health visitor, or get support from a breastfeeding advisor.
Preventing baby wind when bottle feeding
When bottle feeding your baby, sit them upright. Make sure you tip the bottle high enough so the milk fills the whole teat as they’re feeding. This will help prevent baby from ingesting too much air along with the milk.
It may also help to try a different kind of bottle or a slower flowing teat. If your baby is guzzling down their bottle of milk very quickly, then chances are that they’ll be taking in a lot of air along with their feed. Our Advanced Anti-Colic bottles are specially designed to help reduce air bubbles in baby’s milk with their advanced venting system.
Baby trapped wind FAQs
Does shaking their bottle make a baby windy?
Shaking baby’s bottle to mix up a feed or ensure that all the milk inside is at the same temperature can also introduce air bubbles. This can make your baby more prone to gas and wind.
Should I switch to formula if baby is windy?
Babies get wind whether you’re breastfeeding or formula feeding. It’s natural as their little digestive systems develop.
If you’re already using formula and your baby is very windy, then it may be worth trying a different brand. However, this may bring other complications, such as constipation, as your baby gets used to their new milk. If you're unsure, it's best to seek advice from your doctor or health visitor.
Does gripe water help with gas?
There're lots of medicines that claim to help with wind, like gripe water and lactase drops. Sadly, there's no scientific proof that they work, although many parents do swear by them. Speak to your family GP or a pharmacist to make sure that any medicine you try is safe for your baby.
How long should you burp a baby for?
There's isn't a definite amount of time that you should burp a baby, but it can really help to learn their discomfort cues. If they're displaying these cues, it might mean that they're still uncomfortable during or after a feed and need to burp again to relieve any remaining trapped gas.