It can be very stressful for new parents when babies have wind, colic or reflux. Read on for advice and reassurance from Dr Pixie
It’s distressing to see your little baby try to burp up some wind. Trapped wind occurs in breast- and bottle-fed children as a result of swallowing air. As an adult, you have probably experienced what it is like to be full of gas. A child can experience similar discomfort, but trapped wind in babies isn’t dangerous.
Feeding babies with wind
If you are bottle feeding, ensure you tilt the bottle so the teat is full of milk, meaning no air can get in. You can buy special wind-reducing bottles. Breastfed babies have fewer problems with wind, as the flow of milk is slower. To avoid wind, aim to feed your baby in an upright position. If they are guzzling the feeds, spread them out to give them smaller amounts frequently rather than a lot at each feed.
Coping with colic
Colic is very common, affecting one in five babies. You might have had colic yourself – ask your mum as she’ll certainly remember if you did!
Colic is tough to deal with because it tends to start a couple of weeks after you have given birth. This is around the time you have got yourself into a routine, the visitors have stopped calling, and your partner has gone back to work. You can feel very alone.
We generally consider colic as sticking to the ‘rule of three’. Your baby cries for about three hours, at least three days a week, and it goes on for three or more weeks. They seem inconsolable, look flushed in the face and draw their little legs up in distress. As a parent watching, it can be torture, but take solace in the fact that in the long term it’s not causing the little one any harm.
• Picking your baby up can help as can putting them in the pram and rocking them.
• Noise may soothe them, so get the vacuum cleaner or the hairdryer started to see if it helps.
• Putting them in the bath may also ease symptoms.
• Lactase or simethicone drops, available at pharmacies, may help ease but won’t eliminate symptoms. If they haven’t made an impact after a week, they are unlikely to offer any benefit.
We don’t know the cause of colic, so the only treatment is time. What’s more, colic can keep going for weeks, so enlist the support of others. It is no reflection on your parenting skills – it can happen to anyone. Don’t feel bad if you want to take time out. Colic can be relentless and make even the most resilient parent crumble. Breaks are good for both you and your baby, so bring on the babysitters!
The rules of reflux
As a new parent, you soon realise the days of dressing up are long gone. Why? Because not a day goes by when the little one doesn’t spit, reflux or spew on you!
Reflux is very common, affecting almost half of all babies in their first year. It usually starts before the baby is eight weeks old and happens because the muscles in the food pipe aren’t fully developed. As a result, the baby periodically brings up what it feeds, often six or more times per day.
The older your baby gets, the less likely they are to have reflux; it rarely continues beyond their first birthday. The most important thing to realise it that it’s common and hasn’t been caused by bad parenting. Secondly, don’t confuse reflux with vomiting; the child who vomits forcefully hasn’t got simple reflux.
• Help your baby by not overfeeding them and aim to feed small amounts frequently.
• If you’re bottle-feeding, ensure the teat on their bottle isn’t so big that your baby swallows air.
• Aim to wind your baby regularly and keep them upright after a feed.
• Although reflux may worsen if a baby is left to lie down, babies should never be put to sleep on their tummies or sides in an effort to ease symptoms.
If your child is distressed, not gaining weight or vomiting, see your GP.
By Dr Pixie