How to Help Your Baby Expel Gas

October 20, 2019
Your baby may swallow air while eating. If you don't help your baby, these gases can cause discomfort and irritation, making them cry. Therefore, it's important to help your baby expel gas.

Babies need to expel gas correctly. If they don’t, the gases can provoke discomfort and irritation. In this article, we’ll tell you how you can help your little one expel gas correctly.

Infants and gases

It’s very common for infants not to know how to suckle correctly. Thus, they can also swallow air when feeding, especially if they’re bottle-fed.

This accumulation of gases in their small stomachs can cause discomfort. Therefore, they may feel uncomfortable and irritated, which is why they cry.

A crying baby with colic.

Colic occurs when gases accumulate in the digestive tract due to the ingestion of these or poor digestion.

This is the reason why, after each feeding, it’s important to help your baby expel gas they ingested during feeding. In fact, it’s very difficult for them to do it themselves, so they need your help.

Therefore, after you feed your baby, you must burp them so they expel the gases to avoid discomfort or colic.

Types of gases

Two types of gases can accumulate in your baby.

  • Stomach gas. The most common; they represent the air that your baby swallows during feeding, as we mentioned above.
  • Intestinal gases. They’re produced by poor digestion or some food intolerances. In this is your baby’s case, consult with your pediatrician. They may recommend a change of formula.

How to help your baby expel gas

You can resort to several techniques and tricks to help your baby expel gas properly:

Correct breastfeeding or bottle-feeding position

A mother breastfeeding her baby.

Adopting a correct feeding position is essential so your baby doesn’t ingest gases along with milk.

When breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, you need to position your baby correctly. This way, they’ll be able to suck better and swallow less air. To do this:

  • Your areola and nipple should form a bottle nipple in the baby’s mouth. If your baby only sucks your nipple, likely, they’ll also swallow air.
  • The baby’s gums shouldn’t squeeze your nipple. If they do so, they’ll only swallow air, not milk.

We recommend that you read: How to Prevent Nausea and Vomiting in Babies

Burp your baby

Making your baby burp is the most effective way to help them expel gas correctly. However, certain positions will help them expel gas better. Among them, the most known are:

  • Holding your baby against your shoulder.
  • Putting them in a seated position on your lap with their back to you and putting your hand on your baby’s chest and your fingers on their chin.
  • Placing your baby face down on your arm. With their belly pressed against your arm, facilitating the expulsion of gases. However, remember that your baby’s head should be slightly higher than the rest of their body.

While your baby is in a proper position, pat or rub their back. You must help your baby expel gas for about five to ten minutes. However, don’t worry if you don’t hear the characteristic sounds of burps, as they may go unnoticed. After ten minutes, you can lay your baby down.

When you have to make your baby burp

Experts say that it’s necessary to help your baby expel gas. However, you’re probably wondering when you have to do this. Normally, you should burp your baby after each feeding. However, in some cases, perhaps you may need to interrupt the feeding to expel gases and then continue:

  • If your baby is restless during feeding, they may be swallowing air. Thus, you can stop every five to ten minutes to help them expel gas and then continue.
  • Also, you can burp them when you change from one breast to the other.
  • If you bottle-feed your baby and they seem upset, you can stop every 60 milliliters to burp them and then continue feeding.

Just listen to your motherly instincts! Also, if your baby doesn’t seem restless and is feeding properly, there’s no need to interrupt the feeding. Simply burp them after you’re done.

Choose bottle nipples correctly

A mother bottle-feeding her baby.

The bottle nipple should be adapted to their age. In addition, “anti-colic” bottle nipples may prove helpful.

If you bottle-feed your baby, you must pay close attention to the bottle nipples. This is because they may not be suitable for the baby’s age. If they’re too large, they may make your baby swallow air along with the milk.

Therefore, it’s better to choose age-appropriate bottle nipples so that your baby doesn’t swallow air. Special bottle nipples avoid this problem by minimizing the number of air babies swallow while they feed.

This article may interest you: Is it True that Breastfeeding Helps You Lose Weight?

Is it always necessary to burp your baby?

Some mothers believe that babies always swallow air when feeding. Therefore, they think they must burp them no matter what. However, this isn’t necessarily so. Especially in the case of breastfeeding, if the position and suction technique is correct, your baby may not swallow air.

In this sense, if you burp your baby when they don’t need it, you may cause them discomfort. It’s best to try to help your baby expel gas for a reasonable time (for five to ten minutes) with gentle pats or rubs and then simply let them rest.

  • C. Calvo Romero, “La prevención y el tratamiento del cólico del lactante”, BOL PEDIATR 2010; 50: 197-202
  • Asociación Española de Pediatría, Técnicas de lactancia materna. http://lactanciamaterna.aeped.es/tecnicas-de-lactancia-materna/
  • Asociación Española de Matronas, Los consejos de tu matrona, 2017. https://aesmatronas.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Los-consejos-de-tu-matrona.pdf