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3 Ways to Help a Baby Relieve Gas and Colic Naturally

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3 Ways to Help a Baby Relieve Gas and Colic Naturally

Is there anything more disheartening than watching your baby fuss and squirm with gas and belly discomfort? It’s hard not to feel helpless when our babes are uncomfortable. Instead of standing by, wishing there was something you could do, try these burping, positioning, and massaging techniques to relieve gas and colic naturally, providing your little one with some welcome relief.

1. Burping

One of the most important things we learn in our first weeks of parenting is how to burp a baby. A few different situations can cause infants to swallow air —  if they cry before a feeding, experience a strong or fast milk flow during nursing, or fail to properly seal their mouths around the breast or bottle while feeding, they may end up with bubbles in their bellies. Burping can relieve that build-up of air and prevent later discomfort associated with gas.

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Try these four burping techniques and see which one, or which combination, works best for your child. (But before you try any of them, grab a burp cloth in case you coax out more than just a burp!)

  • On the shoulder – From a seated or standing position, place baby up high on your chest so that your shoulder presses lightly into the space just below your little one’s ribs. Pat and rub your baby’s back with moderate pressure to coax the burp out. A gentle bounce may help the bubble emerge.
  • Across the knees – From a seated position, place baby across your lap, lying face down (perpendicular to your legs). Support your baby’s chin and jaw with one hand while rubbing and patting with the other hand.
  • Folded forward – From a seated position, sit baby on your leg, facing to the side or away from your body. Support baby’s chin and jaw (not the throat) with one hand while patting and rubbing baby’s back with the other hand.
  • Over the hip – This position works great for moms who nurse their babies in a side-lying position. Place baby over hip, facing your back, so your hip puts gentle pressure onto your baby’s belly. Pat and rub your baby’s back.

2. Positioning

It your baby already seems to be experiencing gas-related discomfort, try these positions to help work out those bubbles! All three of techniques begin with your baby lying on his back, and can be repeated until baby passes gas, relaxes, or becomes tired of the motion.

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  • Knees-to-chest – Bend and lift baby’s legs up to the chest, then extend them again. Repeat the motion smoothly and rhythmically. You may lift both legs together, or pedal them slowly, like baby is riding a bicycle.
  • Foot-to-knee – Bring one of baby’s feet to up to the opposite knee and hold it there for a few seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.
  • Hip-lift – Gently grasp your baby’s calves or ankles with your hands. Bend the legs to 90 degrees, then lift them straight up, allowing your baby’s hips to rise a couple inches off the bed or blanket.

3. Massage

Infant massage is terrific not only for relieving stress and bonding with your baby, but also for providing relief from digestive issues. To perform the massage, you’ll need a towel (one that can get oily) and a bottle of oil to help your hands move smoothly across baby’s skin. Choose an edible oil like olive or coconut (organic is a plus) in case it travels from baby’s fingers or toes up to his mouth.

Before the massage, consider giving your baby a bath. This helps baby to relax, along with warming his skin and your own hands. Make sure the massage room is a comfortably warm temperature so baby can rest either naked or in only a diaper. Spread the towel on a soft surface, and lay your baby across the towel. Abdominal massage is easiest when the diaper is removed completely, but if you’d prefer to leave it on, pull it down low on baby’s hips so you have more room to work with on the belly region.

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Lean over your baby. Smile and make eye contact, explaining that you are about to perform a massage that will feel nice and help him relax. Warm a small spoonful of oil between your hands, then rub it in downward strokes from baby’s chest to legs.

Practice one of both of these digestion-aiding techniques:

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  • Water Wheel Stroke – Place your fingers just below baby’s belly button. Press down about an inch, and, with a slow stroke, scoop with a downward motion. Repeat with the opposite hand. Continue the strokes 8-10 times with a slow, firm, motion, alternating hands.
  • “I Love U” Stroke – This series of strokes makes an upside-down “I-L-U” stroke on baby’s belly. Lean over your baby, imagine that there is a box around his belly button. Each side of the box is marked with a clockwise-pointing arrow. The first stroke is a straight line (an “I”) up the left side of the box. The second stroke is a right angle (an upside-down “L”) that crosses above the belly button, then down the right side of the box. The third stroke is an arch (an upside-down “U”) that crosses up the left side of the box, across the top, and down the right side. Repeat this stroke 4-8 times, always making sure to move in a clockwise direction (the body’s natural direction of elimination).

At the completion of the massage, place your hands gently on baby’s abdomen, smile, and tell him that the massage is complete. (Feel free to shower him with love and kisses. After all, you did use edible oil!)

Still Having Trouble?

If nothing seems to help, talk to your doctor. Although most belly issues will be worked out within the first few months of baby’s life, in some cases, colic, gas, excessive spit-up, and/or discomfort could indicate another condition like gastroesophageal reflux.

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Some nursing mothers find it helpful to pay attention to their food choices, seeking correlations between baby’s fussy times and foods that may not agree with an immature digestive system (such as dairy or tomatoes). Pediatricians and lactation consultants can help nursing mothers adjust their diets to make sure both mama and baby are happy.

Remember, as babies grow and become more experienced eaters who can roll, crawl, and walk, they will likely have less trouble with gas and digestive discomfort. That means more grins for mom, and less wondering, “Was that a smile, or a gas bubble?”

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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“Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

2. Teaches the Value of Family

Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

“Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

“If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

5. Creates a Safe Environment

If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

6. Reduces Stress

This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

How to Make Family Time Happen

Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

1. Family Dinners

This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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“Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

2.  Regular Movie Nights

This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

3. Game Night

This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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4. Sharing a Hobby

If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

Final Thoughts

Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
[2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
[3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
[4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
[5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
[6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
[7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
[8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
[9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
[10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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