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Infant Wind - Where It Comes From and What You Can Do About It

Infant Wind - Where It Comes From and What You Can Do About It

Wind is common cause for discomfort and upset in babies. Aine Home, The Reflux Lady, details where wind comes from and how to prevent it. 

woman with baby on her shoulderWind, upwards or downwards can be a source of great distress for infants.  Wind happens as a part of normal life for everyone; yet for our babies, it can be a source of serious discomfort.

Why do our precious little things appear to suffer so disproportionately with these issues?

Where does it come from?

Wind is air, accumulated air in the body.  Babies swallow air when they cry, laugh and breathe.  They drink air with their milk if their latch is not perfect, and air can be created in their digestive systems.

Understanding the source of the wind in your baby’s body is a key to reducing it.  It may be that you need to go around in a few circles to nail it, and when you do, the peace, calm and joy that comes with a happy baby is worth the effort.

If your baby spills milk when drinking, is gulping, splutters or chokes when drinking, if baby bobs on and off the breast or if you can hear milk sloshing in baby’s tummy, there is a high chance that there is a less than perfect latch.  I recommend finding an International Certified Board Lactation Consultant to have latch and tongue tie assessed.

It should come as no surprise that your baby’s digestive system is immature at birth.  The development of an infant’s digestive system can easily be seen by the cutest aspect of a baby grin – their teeth

When you realise that your baby’s teeth are the start of the digestive system, you can really start to tell a lot about the maturity of it.  The teeth are a clear sign of what is going on internally, and what your baby should be eating.  Foods that need crushing and mashing and substantial mixing with saliva for digestion should not be given to a baby without the necessary tools for doing these jobs effectively – the premolars.

When your baby’s last pre-molar teeth come in, it is about the same time that their pancreas starts to produce pancreatic juices and enzymes.  Until this stage, your baby’s digestive system is simply not built to break down complex carbohydrates or complex proteins.  What happens is that the complex carbs ferment in the gut, rather than being digested, and the fermentation results in gas being formed. 

This can be rather uncomfortable and sometimes painful for your baby’s tummy.  The discomfort lasts because your baby does not have the physical control of her little body to move around and help the passing of gas, the discomfort lingers because your baby does not know how to move in such a way to relieve himself.

baby feet with parents legsWhat can you do about it?

When your baby is uncomfortable or in pain, they cannot sleep. Making sure that you have helped remove as much of this air as possible is so important.  For both of you.

If your baby cries a lot, then I strongly recommend doing everything you can to ease their discomfort so that the crying is reduced.  Even if this results in a few days of baby living in a carrier, changing sleeping arrangements, taking time out to completely focus on baby.

If your baby is suffering with any discomfort from tummy wind, then crying will only make it worse, and much longer to resolve.

Do whatever is necessary to calm your baby. 

I fully understand that this is not always possible having had an undiagnosed silent refluxer with Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA) myself.

Air swallowed must go somewhere, up or down.  With swallowed air, you have an opportunity to release it upwards which is often the easiest way out.  Proper winding takes time.  You should wind until baby has gone at least 10 minutes without releasing any wind during an active “winding” technique. There are many different winding techniques, you should try a number and find out what works best for your baby.

There are over-the-counter supports you can give your baby to help resolve the symptoms like gripe water, enzyme drops, and others.  Some may help, yet they do not address the root of the problem to stop it happening in the first place.

Once air passes through the stomach, there is little you can do about it except help it pass through.

Tools like infant massage, reflexology and the 45-degree bottom-wiggle hold from Dr Hamilton can be magically comforting for your baby.  These movements can help move the gas along and out of the body.

baby with blue eyes looking at cameraI always recommend consulting an IBCLC with any breastfed baby as so often the cause is an improper latch, which itself can come from multiple reasons.  Resolving the issue at source will lead to a far happier baby from earliest days.

You may find that your baby wants to feed very frequently.  This has an impact of fuelling the fire.  The act of suckling stimulates peristalsis throughout the entire digestive system, and helps move trapped air along.  However, if there is a problem with feeding latch, you can see how this is just a cycle of feeding for comfort leading to discomfort, feeding for comfort and so on.

The last common reason for wind in baby’s tummy, where baby does not have the symptoms of too much air being swallowed, is that there is something in their milk that they cannot digest properly.  And this is often in either breast or formula fed babies. 

In my next piece, I will go into the food for breastfeeding babies in greater detail.  Until then, please follow me on facebook for all the up-to-date information and quotes from me.

Aine Homer is The Baby Reflux Lady.  Driven from the personal experience she had with her 2 children with a missed silent reflux diagnosis, an incorrect reflux diagnosis with a missed tongue-tie, and multiple food allergies and intolerances, she wants to change how babies and their parents are managed in regards to reflux.  She is sparking a new conversation about this subject.  She specialises in identifying irritant foods for reflux babies, and works with private clients as well as writing books on this subject.
Aine has recently published the first output from the Reflux Survey which can be accessed on her website.

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