Does your baby have colic? Is he/she gassy or fussy? It's terrible seeing your baby in pain and not knowing how to help them. On this page, we will try to shed some light on how to relieve gas and burp a newborn baby.
Spitting-up frequently, crying after a feed, trouble falling asleep and excessive fussiness all point to the possibility of trapped air that needs to escape. The escape route for the trapped gas could be via a baby's mouth or bottom. Both are discussed below in detail.
Helping Your Baby Expel Air From Their Mouth
Babies often swallow air while drinking milk, whether they are breastfed or bottle-fed.
If you breastfeed:
- Make sure you have a good latch. Your baby's lips should be flanged around your nipple, and you should not hear any clicking sounds while breastfeeding. Any clicking sounds will indicate that the suction between the breast and the baby's mouth allows air intake.
If you bottle-feed:
- Be sure to use the right nipple size for your baby's age. Nipples for older babies allow for more milk to flow at once, which could cause your baby to swallow air.
- Bottle-feeding at an angle is recommended. Read more about pace bottle feeding here.
No matter which way your feed your baby, most babies will need to be burped after feeding. Sometimes it can be difficult for the gas to escape. For this reason, it can sometimes help to burp your baby at intervals during a feeding. Some babies struggle more than others, and it may be needed to burp them every 2 to 5 minutes during feedings.
While burping your baby, you will want to put gentle pressure on their belly to force the air to move up and out. The different burping methods you can use are as follows:
- The Over the Shoulder Burping Method
Be sure to have your baby's tummy resting somewhat on your shoulder. You can then gently but firmly pat your baby on their back in an upward motion. This gentle pressure and movement will help to release the trapped air. Be sure to have your baby on a burping cloth, as the air may bring some spit-up with it. Cloth diaper inserts are a great alternative to burping towels.
If your baby spits-up a lot between feedings, consider reading our page on how to deal with acid reflux.
- Sitting Upright Burping Position
Put your baby on your lap, with your hand supporting their head and neck. The free hand should be pressing gently on the baby's belly. Again, massage in an upwards motion. Usually, because of the bent-over position, this method works great. This method is shown in the video below.
- The Lap Burping Method
You should use this method if your baby seems fussy and uncomfortable, but you should not use it directly after a feed.
Lay your baby over your lap, with one of your legs under their tummy. Your free leg should be under their head. You should turn your baby's head to the side. Don't forget the burp cloth! Rub your baby's upper back in circular motions or pat very lightly.
If you have tried all of these methods and your baby still seems uncomfortable, you might want to give your baby 5 minutes to try to work the burp out themselves. After 5 minutes, try the methods above again.
Keeping your baby in an upright position for half an hour after feeding will help to prevent trapped air and reflux. Wearing your baby in a sling is a wonderful way to do this and has many advantages.
After that initial half-hour, you can try allowing your baby to work the air out during some tummy time.
Helping Your Baby Expel Air From Their Bottom
The Knee Cuddle & Bicycle Kicks
- You should not use this method immediately after feedings.
- Lay your baby on their back with both of their legs extended. Then you can start to move your baby's legs in a circular motion. Bend their knee, alternating or both at the same time, towards their chest, then extend it out again.
I Love You Massage
- This massage works wonders after a bath.
- You can use some coconut oil or baby lotion to help your hands move more easily across your baby's skin.
- Learn more about baby massage here.
Using the Windi to Relieve Baby's Gas
The Windi is a little device that is placed slightly inside of a baby's rectum. This small device is super effective, and often it provides instant relief.
If your baby is continually having reflux issues and gas, or constipation, it may be some other issue such as an imbalance in their microbiome. You can use probiotics to feed the good bacteria in your baby's gut. This good bacteria is sometimes needed for the gut to work efficiently and can dramatically change a baby's comfort level. Probiotics are often recommended to mother and baby to promote gut health and to boost the immune system. Learn more about probiotic use here.
An elimination Diet
It is rare for the foods you eat as a breastfeeding mother to be causing gas, but if your baby has a true allergy, this could be the case. If you have explored all of the above and are sure that something in your diet or your baby's formula is causing the discomfort, you can try an elimination diet — allergies in the breastfed infant discussed here. If your baby is on formula, you can talk to your pediatrician about using a different formula.
I hope that the information on this page has been helpful and that it has reassured you. There is a learning curve when becoming a parent, and there are many new things to discover. You will go through countless hurdles, but this will be the most worthwhile job you ever undertake!