Whether your baby is being breastfed or bottle-fed, any signs of distress or discomfort during or after a feed can be seen as a cue to break wind.
Turning winding into an exercise in ticking off items on a checklist may lead to a mismatch between expectations and reality. It could also overstimulate your newborn. Rather work with your baby’s cues and see winding as an opportunity for a cuddle.
Does my little one need a burp?
“It’s a misconception that all babies need burping after feeds,” says Lynda Lilienfeld, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). “If your baby nursed very efficiently and didn’t swallow air, she may not need to burp. Or winds may be buried so deep in their system that they are only going to escape through their bottoms,” explains La Leche League leader, Jane Maasdorp. Protracted efforts to burp a content baby are more likely to overstimulate and irritate her immature nervous system, advises Lilienfeld.
A word on latching
Many factors, for example, overactive let-down, a tongue tie, or your baby’s suckling habit, could mean that he’s unable to latch efficiently. Coupled with the immaturity of a newborn’s digestive system, this may mean that your baby could benefit from breaking wind, explains IBCLC Judy Kirkwood.
Also, formula is harder to digest than breast milk, and bottle-feeding is physiologically more taxing for a baby. The result, says Kirkwood, is that bottle-fed babies usually benefit from frequent rest periods and burping during feeds.
Should you interrupt a feed to burp?
“If your baby has gulped and spluttered and obviously swallowed air at the beginning of a feed, then it’s worth interrupting the feed early on to see if a wind will come up immediately,” says Maasdorp. “If the breastfeeding baby has nursed comfortably, but the mom knows she’s inclined to need help with burping, she can wait until after the feed. For babies who feed from both breasts during a feed, Kirkwood suggests burping before offering the second breast.
If your newborn is bottle-fed, Lilienfeld advises that you stop every one to three minutes to give your baby a chance to burp if necessary.
How to reduce wind
An effective latch is the first step to avoid – or at least reduce – the need to wind your baby.
When your baby is bottle-fed, it’s important to hold her in a slightly upright position, cuddled against your chest, with the tip of the teat full of milk. Your baby must be able to close his mouth properly to ensure a good seal, counsels Lilienfeld. Kirkwood advises nestling baby to mom like a “well-fitted bra” with baby’s mouth flush against your breast when breastfeeding.