When your baby drinks, whether by breast or by bottle, she is likely to swallow some air. Winding or burping gives her the opportunity to get rid of that air before it makes her tummy uncomfortable and before it fools her into thinking she is full. Any new parent will tell you that trying to get that one last wind out can sometimes be torture!
Although this is a more common problem in bottle-fed babies, a breastfed baby may also take in a lot of air if your breasts are very full as she starts to feed, she may gulp to swallow the milk that is streaming out.
A nice guideline, if you are bottle-feeding, is to stop and give your baby the chance to bring up any wind after every 50ml or so. If you are breastfeeding, wind baby when you change breasts.
Don’t be obsessive about waiting for a burp, if your baby is happy the chances are she hasn’t got enough trapped air to merit a burp. If your baby is squirming or grimacing she probably has a wind on board, so continue winding until it is expelled.
There is no need to rub vigorously or thump baby on her back, a gentle rub or rhythmic patting works best.
Ways to wind your baby
- Cover your shoulder with an old towel or terry nappy. Hold your baby under the buttocks and lean him against your chest with his head on your shoulder. Gently rub or pat his back. This works whether you are sitting or standing.
- Cover your knees with a terry nappy and lie baby face down across them and gently rub or pat his back.
- Sit baby on your lap, supporting his chest with one hand while gently rubbing his back with the other. If he brings up milk as well, it is likely to go over him rather than you so make sure he is wearing a bib or have a cloth on hand.
Most babies regurgitate a little of almost every feed. Parents usually think that it amounts to most of their feed – it seems a lot when you’re wiping it off your clothes – and worry that their baby is missing out on nourishment, but in fact most babies lose only a teaspoon at a time!
The best way to minimise posseting is to reduce the amount of air that gets into the baby’s tummy in the first place (milk settles on top of the air so that when the baby’s stomach muscles contract, the milk comes straight back up). Whether you are breast- or bottle-feeding, wind baby during and after her feed and don’t feed her if she is upset from crying (she will naturally take in more air then).
Try to keep the baby fairly upright while you feed and for a time afterwards and avoid bouncing or jostling her immediately after a feed. If you are bottle-feeding, make sure that the teat is always full of milk and check that the hole in the teat isn’t so big that baby is gulping or so small that she’s taking in more air than milk.
Posseting usually stops by six months when baby starts to spend more of the day upright. The only times to worry about posseting are when:
- The vomiting is projectile (it goes across the room)
- It is green tinged
- The baby is losing weight
- The baby coughs or gags while she feeds