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3 Ways to Help a Baby Relieve Gas and Colic Naturally

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.

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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Published on January 30, 2019

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

In roughly 60 percent of two-parent households with children under the age of 18, both parents work full time. But who takes time off work when the kids are sick in your house? And if you are a manager, how do you react when a man says he needs time to take his baby to the pediatrician?

The sad truth is, the default in many companies and families is to value the man’s work over the woman’s—even when there is no significant difference in their professional obligations or compensation. This translates into stereotypes in the workplace that women are the primary caregivers, which can negatively impact women’s success on the job and their upward mobility.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of long-term time-use data (1965–2011), fathers in dual-income couples devote significantly less time than mothers do to child care.[1] Dads are doing more than twice as much housework as they used to (from an average of about four hours per week to about 10 hours), but there is still a significant imbalance.

This is not just an issue between spouses; it’s a workplace culture issue. In many offices, it is still taboo for dads to openly express that they have family obligations that need their attention. In contrast, the assumption that moms will be on the front lines of any family crisis is one that runs deep.

Consider an example from my company. A few years back, one of our team members joined us for an off-site meeting soon after returning from maternity leave. Not even two hours into her trip, her husband called to say that the baby had been crying nonstop. While there was little our colleague could practically do to help with the situation, this call was clearly unsettling, and the result was that her attention was divided for the rest of an important business dinner.

This was her first night away since the baby’s birth, and I know that her spouse had already been on several business trips before this event. Yet, I doubt she called him during his conferences to ask child-care questions. Like so many moms everywhere, she was expected to figure things out on her own.

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The numbers show that this story is far from the exception. In another Pew survey, 47 percent of dual-income parents agreed that the moms take on more of the work when a child gets sick.[2] In addition, 39 percent of working mothers said they had taken a significant amount of time off from work to care for their child compared to just 24 percent of working fathers. Mothers are also more likely than fathers (27 percent to 10 percent) to say they had quit their job at some point for family reasons.

Before any amazing stay-at-home-dads post an angry rebuttal comment, I want to be very clear that I am not judging how families choose to divide and conquer their personal and professional responsibilities; that’s 100 percent their prerogative. Rather, I am taking aim at the culture of inequity that persists even when spouses have similar or identical professional responsibilities. This is an important issue for all of us because we are leaving untapped business and human potential on the table.

What’s more, I think my fellow men can do a lot about this. For those out there who still privately think that being a good dad just means helping out mom, it’s time to man up. Stop expecting working partners—who have similar professional responsibilities—to bear the majority of the child-care responsibilities as well.

Consider these ways to support your working spouse:

1. Have higher expectations for yourself as a father; you are a parent, not a babysitter.

Know who your pediatrician is and how to reach him or her. Have a back-up plan for transportation and emergency coverage.

Don’t simply expect your partner to manage all these invisible tasks on her own. Parenting takes effort and preparation for the unexpected.

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As in other areas of life, the way to build confidence is to learn by doing. Moms aren’t born knowing how to do this stuff any more than dads are.

2. Treat your partner the way you’d want to be treated.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a man on a business trip say to his wife on a call something to the effect of, “I am in the middle of a meeting. What do you want me to do about it?”

However, when the tables are turned, men often make that same call at the first sign of trouble.

Distractions like this make it difficult to focus and engage with work, which perpetuates the stereotype that working moms aren’t sufficiently committed.

When you’re in charge of the kids, do what she would do: Figure it out.

3. When you need to take care of your kids, don’t make an excuse that revolves around your partner’s availability.

This implies that the children are her first priority and your second.

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I admit I have been guilty in the past of telling clients, “I have the kids today because my wife had something she could not move.” What I should have said was, “I’m taking care of my kids today.”

Why is it so hard for men to admit they have personal responsibilities? Remember that you are setting an example for your sons and daughters, and do the right thing.

4. As a manager, be supportive of both your male and female colleagues when unexpected situations arise at home.

No one likes or wants disruptions, but life happens, and everyone will face a day when the troubling phone call comes from his sitter, her school nurse, or even elderly parents.

Accommodating personal needs is not a sign of weakness as a leader. Employees will be more likely to do great work if they know that you care about their personal obligations and family—and show them that you care about your own.

5. Don’t keep score or track time.

At home, it’s juvenile to get into debates about who last changed a diaper or did the dishes; everyone needs to contribute, but the big picture is what matters. Is everyone healthy and getting enough sleep? Are you enjoying each other’s company?

In business, too, avoid the trap of punching a clock. The focus should be on outcomes and performance rather than effort and inputs. That’s the way to maintain momentum toward overall goals.

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The Bottom Line

To be clear, I recognize that a great many working dads are doing a terrific job both on the home front and in their professional lives. My concern is that these standouts often aren’t visible to their colleagues; they intentionally or inadvertently let their work as parents fly under the radar. Dads need to be open and honest about family responsibilities to change perceptions in the workplace.

The question “How do you balance it all?” should not be something that’s just asked of women. Frankly, no one can answer that question. Juggling a career and parental responsibilities is tough. At times, really tough.

But it’s something that more parents should be doing together, as a team. This can be a real bonus for the couple relationship as well, because nothing gets in the way of good partnership faster than feelings of inequity.

On the plus side, I can tell you that parenting skills really do get better with practice—and that’s great for people of both sexes. I think our cultural expectations that women are the “nurturers” and men are the “providers” needs to evolve. Expanding these definitions will open the doors to richer contributions from everyone, because women can and should be both—and so should men.

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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