How do I burp my windy baby?

burping a baby

Learning to wind your baby can take a bit of time, but you will develop your own knack for doing it. Babies can get rather grumpy and uncomfortable if wind does become trapped, so burping them needs to be a regular part of your feeding routine – and it's a good idea to know the basics around what to do.

Why does my baby get windy?

Wind in babies is a natural part of digestion. From his very first feed, your baby’s digestive system will begin working to break down the proteins in the milk he has drunk. Aside from the digestive process, wind can occur in other ways too:

  • Air bubbles can be swallowed when your baby is feeding or if he’s been crying.
  • If you’re breastfeeding, then your diet may be a factor. Any scientist would tell you that the gas created from food you eat is created in your intestine and therefore can’t travel in your milk. However, anecdotally, lots of mums say that eating certain vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and asparagus or pulses such as lentils and chickpeas can cause wind in a breastfed baby. (Or maybe it’s just an excuse not to eat their greens.)
  • If you have an older baby who is eating solids then you might notice that he is windy if he’s eaten certain fruit and veggies. It can also take some time for his digestive system to get used to breaking down the enzymes and proteins in the new foods he is eating.
  • If your baby has excessive wind and other colicky symptoms, he may have an allergy to cow’s milk. This occurs when your baby’s immune system reacts to the protein in cow’s milk. If you’re breastfeeding your baby, you will need to cut cow’s milk from your diet, as traces of the protein can enter your breastmilk. If you give your baby formula, then you’ll need to consider a brand that doesn’t use cow’s milk as a base. Cow’s milk allergy can be diagnosed using a test ordered by your GP. Most babies grow out of the allergy by the time they are three years old.
  • If you are breastfeeding and have an oversupply of milk, you may notice your baby has a lot of wind after a feed. An oversupply usually results in an increased amount of foremilk – the milk that comes out at the beginning of a feed. Foremilk has a high water and lactose content that can upset a baby’s tummy if he has too much. Oversupply is often accompanied by a fast letdown, meaning that your milk flows faster, increasing the chances of your baby swallowing air, too.
  • If your baby is unwell with constipation or diarrhoea, he may be windy along with it.

Do bottle fed babies have more wind than breastfed babies?

Babies who are breastfed tend to have less wind than those who are bottle fed. Breastfed babies can control the flow of milk more easily by sucking at a slower pace. Swallowing less milk means they are also swallowing less air.

How do I know if my baby has wind?

Burping your baby should form a routine part of every feed in order to prevent trapped wind. If your baby does have trapped wind then he’ll let you know about it. He may become reluctant to feed, pulling away from your breast or his bottle. He’ll also likely be disgruntled and uncomfortable and will cry.

When should I burp my baby?

Some babies need winding more than others and you’ll soon learn about your own baby’s needs. As a general guideline, you should burp at every feed to prevent trapped wind occurring. If your baby is bottle fed, then you’ll need to wind him after every two to three ounces. If he is breastfed, then it’s a good idea to wind him before you swap to the second breast.

How do I burp my baby?

  • Over the shoulder. This time-old method consists of placing your baby against your chest and resting his chin on your shoulder. Gently pat and rub his back to help the wind up. Don’t forget to drape a muslin cloth or towel over your shoulder before you begin or that comfortable-but-tired nursing top you’re sick of wearing could be heading for the laundry basket.
  • Sitting upright. Sit your baby upright on your lap.Try to use the palm of your hand to support the weight of his chest while your fingers prop his chin up. Rub or pat his back until you’ve cleared the wind.
  • Tummy time. Lie your baby on his tummy across your lap, supporting his head by placing your hand under his chin. Rub or gently pat his back.
  • Bicycle legs. Lie your baby on his back and gently move his legs in a cycling motion. This puts gentle pressure on his stomach and will help to move any trapped wind.
I was never very good at winding my baby but I found if I put her upright on my shoulder and gently bounced it would usually come up.
  • Lie your baby on your forearm. Burping your baby only takes care of the wind at one end. Gas created in your baby’s bowels during the digestive process won’t come up with burping. You could try lying your baby on his tummy across your forearm with his head turned sideways. This will help to apply some gentle pressure to his bowels and set that trapped wind free.

How long does it take to burp my baby?

I still wind my one year old. I think it depends on the baby and on how well they bring up their wind. My son is crawling and walking but still needs a little help to burp!
You should spend five to ten minutes winding your baby each time. If your baby needs to burp, he’ll normally do so within that time. You’ll only need to burp your baby until he’s six months old. By this age he’ll be spending most of his time sitting upright and will be able to get his burps up by himself.
time burping baby

What should I do if winding is not working?

It’s worth trying to wind your baby for slightly longer. Every baby is different and some may require burping either longer or more frequently, especially newborns whose digestive systems are still immature. If your baby is still not bringing up his wind, consider the following:

  • Give your baby a warm bath to help relax him and gently massage his tummy using circular motions. You can ask your health visitor for tips on how to massage or find a local class to you. There are also plenty of good videos available to watch online.
  • If positioning and massage is not working, then speak to your your health visitor about trying medication. Simeticone is the active ingredient in over-the-counter products such as Infacol and Colief. It causes air bubbles to combine into larger bubbles that are easier to expel. Gripe water is a natural alternative to this but not usually as effective.

What Mumsnetters say:

  • “I'd recommend Dr Brown’s bottles. I wish we'd used them from the off!”
  • “Gripe water worked really well for my eight-month-old daughter who had reflux and bad wind until a couple of months ago.”
  • “Tummy massage for five to 10 minutes, four times a day, and giving probiotics has helped my son a lot. He is now 12 weeks and still suffers a occasionally, but it is much better.”
  • “I used to hold my baby, stand up and then tip her back towards the floor really,really slowly and bring her up again really, really slowly. Worked every time.”

Can I help my baby avoid wind?

Wind can’t be avoided but you can help to reduce it with some simple steps:

  • When your baby is old enough, try to keep him upright during a feed. This will limit the amount of air he swallows.
  • If your baby’s wind is caused by the fast flow of milk from his bottle, check that the hole in the teat is not too big. You could also try ‘slow-flow’ teats or an anti-colic bottle to help control the flow of milk and prevent your baby from swallowing too much air.
  • Avoid or limit foods that you know can cause a reaction in your baby.
  • Make sure that you break during feeding to burp your baby.

Could it be something other than wind?

If your baby’s wind is accompanied by persistent crying and other symptoms such as becoming agitated, then he could have colic. Colic can begin from a few weeks old and last through to six months. Colic eventually will pass and can be eased by burping, soothing and changing feeding position. If you’re concerned that your baby is becoming increasingly distressed as a result of having colic, then you could try one of the over-the-counter remedies containing simeticone.

If your baby brings up milk when you’re burping him, then it could be a sign that he has reflux. Symptoms of reflux also include poor weight gain, excessive crying and refusing to feed. If you think your baby might have reflux, speak to your GP. You may need to change your baby’s formula to a ‘stay-down’ formula or take steps including frequent burping to alleviate his discomfort.