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Does your baby need to burp after nursing?

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Burping your baby is a technique that all new parents learn to help their newborns get rid of gas. If you are a beginner, the information in this article will be of great help.

Giving your baby the right nutrition is one of the biggest concerns for new parents. It is difficult in the beginning because of difficulties that they do not know how to deal with, e.g. if their baby needs to burp and if they have gas in their stomach. During the first six months of life, babies are actually constantly building up the air in their stomachs, and burping after eating can often help them feel better.

But often the problem remains and this is where concerns arise about how to deal with it. What causes gas in the stomach in babies? Is it possible that they have a medical problem or disease? Does burping after nursing really help your baby?

What causes gas in the stomach in babies?

The first thing you need to know is that gas in the stomach of babies is inevitable. It is something that happens because of their eating behavior during the first weeks of life and how their internal organs develop during this time. Gas in the stomach is the most common cause of diarrhea.

  • Their digestive system is still developing: At the end of pregnancy, the baby’s digestive system is not yet fully developed. Although the timing varies, it starts to become more mature around six months of age, but it is not fully developed until the child is five years old. This means that problems such as gas in the stomach and acid reflux are normal.
  • Babies swallow air, either when they cry or when they swallow too quickly when being fed (especially with a bottle). It is normal for newborns to swallow air, although this, unfortunately, has consequences such as e.g. gas in the stomach. As your baby grows, the amount of air that accidentally reaches the food sack decreases.
  • Some common stomach problems are constipation, gastroesophageal reflux, and colic. Indigestion is very common in the first year of life, so parents should learn to manage them with the help of their pediatrician.
  • Hypersensitivity or allergy: Mainly to any component of the breast milk substitute. Allergies are less common than hypersensitivity, as the latter is related to the stage of development of the digestive system.

These are the top four causes of colic in babies. Of course, there are others too, e.g. poor grip or position during breastfeeding or irregular feeding during the first period.

Mother’s diet

Although many parents believe it affects them, there is no strong evidence that the mother’s diet is a trigger for this or similar problems.

Mothers often limit the intake of certain foods without reason, especially spicy, sour, or very cold foods. However, researchers have shown that such restrictions have no benefit, and unless recommended by a pediatrician, they are unlikely to help.

Signs that your baby may have gas in the stomach

Many symptoms can indicate that your baby may have gas in the stomach. Remember, it’s natural and inevitable, so there’s no need to worry if you notice these symptoms regularly. Some of these are:

  • Crying and Signs of Discomfort: Crying is the only communication method that babies have to express their feelings. If they cry right after being fed and this comes along with other signs of discomfort, they may have gas in their stomach.
  • Excessive flatulence: Although gas coming out of the anal opening is completely normal in babies, it is a symptom of gas in the digestive system if it occurs specifically after breastfeeding. To relieve the pressure, their body tries to get rid of some of the gas through flatulence.
  • Sleep or eating problems: Sleep problems can actually be a sign of many conditions, and so can eating problems. But if these occur in specific contexts and along with other symptoms, they probably point to the same condition.
  • The child turns and shows signs of pain and also tries to pull the legs up to the chest. He or she may also become irritated and generally seem uncomfortable. Gas in the stomach causes a feeling of discomfort that leads to all these symptoms.

You may also notice a slight swelling in the abdomen and that your baby often vomits. These signs do not always mean that there is an excessive accumulation of gas, as most gas occurs naturally, even when there is no underlying problem.

The best way to rule out other conditions is to consult your pediatrician.

Here’s how to help your baby burp

There is no scientific evidence that helping your baby burp reduces colic or regurgitation to any great effect. This is confirmed by a 2014 study with two control groups.

Although there is not much evidence in the medical literature, there is also no evidence that these methods are harmful to the health of infants.

The fact is that flatulence, colic, and regurgitation are normal problems during the first months of life, regardless of whether the parents help their baby burp or not. But evidence from many mothers shows that burping their baby helps calm them down and also helps them sleep better and reduces irritability.

That means it’s a good idea, especially if the above symptoms are very noticeable. With that in mind, here we’ve put together some techniques to help the baby burp that you can use during and after every feed:

You can burp your baby by standing up with a baby blanket on your shoulder

This is the classic position to help your baby burp after a feed. You stand up and put the child’s chin on your shoulder. It is possible that some milk may come back up during this procedure, so it is advisable to use a cloth or baby blanket to avoid getting milk residue on your clothes. When in this position, do the following:

  1. Gently pat your child on the back. Do this from the bottom up to help the air move upwards.
  2. To achieve this, you can pat the lower back three or four times and then move upwards a little at a time until you reach the chest.
  3. To calm your baby, try walking or rocking at the same time.

There is no telling how long it normally takes for a baby to burp. Just do it until you notice they stop belching. You can also perform this maneuver mid-feed if the baby shows any signs of swallowing air. Make sure the body is in an upright position to help the air escape.

You can help your baby burp in an upright position

This technique is more comfortable if you are tired and want to sit down. You can help your baby burp while sitting on a chair. A rocking chair will help calm the child if he feels anxious during the process. You perform this technique in the following way:

  1. Place the baby in your lap and place the palm of your hand on the chest. Lean your child’s body slightly forward so that your hand supports some of their weight.
  2. With the other hand, you gently pat your child’s back. Use the method above with movements from the lower back upwards.
  3. Be careful not to lose control of your child’s body. Perform the technique for two to three minutes.

If you can’t find a comfortable position, try putting your baby on your lap or on a horizontal surface (eg a bed). Be patient if nothing happens at first. It takes a few minutes before the gases have moved up and out.

Lying on your lap

If the above techniques don’t work, try placing your baby on his stomach over your lap. You should try to achieve a 30-degree angle instead of a horizontal position. The best way to achieve this is by following these steps:

  1. Place the baby over your knee and lean him forward until you reach this 30-degree angle.
  2. Make sure the baby’s head is always higher than the chest. This way you avoid problems if they vomit up some milk or some other food. If necessary, you can support the head with your hand.
  3. Pat your baby gently on the back. Stop only when you are sure that the movements will not cause any more burps.

The disadvantage of this position is that it is more difficult to know how often the burp will occur. In the first position, the baby’s mouth is very close to your ear, so you know if your technique is having any effect. We recommend testing the positions in the order presented, as they are sorted by effectiveness.

How can you help your child with this problem?

Remember, all these tricks are just suggestions. A qualified pediatrician can recommend alternative treatments based on a more accurate diagnosis. Anyway, it might be a good idea to try the following:

Consider switching to formula if burping your baby doesn’t help

Many times, bloating, reflux, constipation, and colic in babies are related to the type of formula they receive. With your pediatrician’s approval, you can try using a different product.

You can also try introducing certain probiotics such as Lactobacillus reuteri because it can reduce the occurrence of the above symptoms. This could be shown in a two-year clinical trial involving 589 infants.

According to a study, the use of lactose-free milk protein that has been thickened with certain compounds has also been shown to be effective in preventing episodes of acid reflux. Never change the formula without first consulting your pediatrician. Your doctor is the best person to advise you on whether you should switch from the one you are currently using.

Get help from a lactation consultant

There is a link between certain gastrointestinal disorders, such as colic and flatulence, and breastfeeding effectiveness, according to a study published in 2018.

Small details such as frequency, angle, grip, and position can harm the child’s body. A qualified consultant can help you breastfeed optimally.

Massage your baby’s belly

This is a nicer alternative to helping your baby burp and helping him or her relax despite the effects of colic. You can massage your baby with or without special oils and also use these techniques as a way to bond with your baby. Massage clockwise, gently, and gently, trying to direct the air all the way out of the stomach.

You can also use massage on other parts of your child’s body, e.g. on arms, legs, and shoulders. In this way, you reduce the irritation due to air in the stomach and at the same time give your baby a quiet moment.

Make cycling movements with your legs

This is another technique you can use when you want to help your child get rid of flatulence. There are several ways to do this, but the following are the most effective:

  1. Lay your baby flat on his back.
  2. Grab your child’s legs and move them in a cycling motion. Make sure to perform these movements slowly and that the circle reaches as far as the leg can extend comfortably.
  3. An alternative to the cycling motion is to extend the legs and then bring them into a bent position up to the chest. Hold them there for ten seconds and then repeat the movement.
  4. Do this for 5-10 minutes two to three times a day.

This little trick is also helpful in relieving constipation in babies. Other things you can try are changing the nipple on the bottle to one with a valve and paying attention to your baby’s behavior when he or she starts eating real food.

When should you see a doctor?

If symptoms persist after six months, it is best to consult a specialist for a more accurate diagnosis. Allergies or intolerances to certain foods can trigger episodes of this type, and these are conditions that require special treatment.

Of course, if you take your child to all the visits to the childcare center in the first months of life, it is likely that such problems will be detected early. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to take your child to all of their doctor’s appointments. You should consider them necessary for your child’s health.

If more serious symptoms occur, e.g. blood in the stool or fever, it is a warning sign that must be examined by a doctor quickly. Consult your doctor in these situations.

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