Gassy baby is gassy
August 7, 2012 10:34 PM   Subscribe

Please give me your best tips to burp a six week old, or otherwise soothe a gassy infant.

Baby is six weeks old. He is in a co-sleeper attached to our bed. Breastfeeding and sleeping are going well except that at night - around 3 am or so usually - he starts grunting and straining loudly, which keeps us awake. He's not crying and is usually actually asleep while he makes these noises. Sometimes the straining will result in a loud fart or poop, but he just keeps on with the grunting. I've tried burping him after feelings, but it's hard to get a good burp out of him. I've tried bicycle legs during the grunting sessions but that doesn't seem to produce anything or make him more comfortable.

I don't think it's reflux as he rarely spits up. My supply is fine and I don't think we have an oversupply problem or an over active letdown.

What are your burping best practices or other suggestions? Besides earplugs?
posted by bq to Science & Nature (27 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Yoga ball.
posted by iamabot at 10:36 PM on August 7, 2012

Response by poster: Please elaborate.
posted by bq at 10:37 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ahh sorry, so take babble, bounce on yoga ball - easier than wandering around and gently bouncing the little one, sometimes more effective than the solid pat on the back.

A lot of the time though, for us, there was just grunting, she grew out of it mostly but I recall getting burps out of her being a challenge as well and the bouncing on the yoga ball helped where solid patting on the back didn't.
posted by iamabot at 10:46 PM on August 7, 2012

(bounce the baby upright, there is no fanciness required, might make baby fall asleep...)
posted by iamabot at 10:46 PM on August 7, 2012

Rub the baby's belly in a circular motion while they're lying on their back.
posted by spunweb at 11:16 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It just always took a lot longer than I thought it would, so I would count to a hundred smacks while gently smacking her back. It seemed to work best when she was held against me with her belly pressed against my shoulder.
posted by viggorlijah at 11:18 PM on August 7, 2012

With baby lying on their back, use your thumbs to make circles around their belly in a question mark shape starting on the lower right & finishing the ? in a straight line under the navel.
posted by goshling at 11:26 PM on August 7, 2012

Lay baby over your knees, tummy down and gently rock your knees up and down. Very gently. Keep a hand on his back. That was always our go-to gas buster and it works like a charm.
posted by pearlybob at 11:27 PM on August 7, 2012

There's a stack of infant massage videos on YouTube. I can't see an example of the ? thumb circles technique on a quick browse but there's lots of others.

Another good one is the I Love You technique:
With your fingers, draw an upside down I from lower ascending colon to the upper ascending colon, draw an L on its side from lower ascending colon, up and across the transverse colon, and then an upside down U from lower ascending colon, across the transverse colon & down the descending colon.

Gentle pumping of the legs to the tummy, either together or in a cycling motion is also a good one for shifting things along.
posted by goshling at 11:42 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Infant gas drops, if the baby's in pain. Simethicone, I think? Anyway, they worked miracles a couple of memorable times.
posted by leahwrenn at 11:47 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

What always worked for my kids was to sit them on my knee and slowly tilt them forward and back whilst rubbing their backs in an upward direction from bottom to top.
posted by pipeski at 12:28 AM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

What's been working for us right now is gentle pressure on his tummy.
1: the regular head on shoulder, but give him some gentle squeezes while burping him.
2: the colic hold, tummy on forearm, head in hand, or tummy time in soon after he eats and he's more likely to spit up
3: while he is sitting fairly upright propped up against me knees, I press his knees into his tummy (to hard and he spits up).
posted by lab.beetle at 1:46 AM on August 8, 2012

Also, his gas is much worse when his mom eats cruciferous vegetables.
posted by lab.beetle at 2:14 AM on August 8, 2012

Seconding tummy massage, as well as holding the baby tummy down on your forearm to keep some gentle pressure on his tummy. Bicycle legs seem also to work.

It will most likely get better as his gut flora normalise. If it's his gut, and he's not spitting up, then I doubt that burping him will help at all.
posted by FrereKhan at 3:27 AM on August 8, 2012

My kidlet had similar problems. Turns out his issues were twofold - my eating dairy (causing gas after the consumption of yogurt, milk, or cheese) and reflux, which for some reason caused a lot of grunting but no apparent pain. (Then again, he is a very grunty baby.) Apparently this is normal, but we bought him a nap nanny to alleviate the reflux and accompanying grunts and snorts and oh my god is that thing awesome. And kind of expensive, so I would take a look at your diet and what you might be eating in the evening that could cause gas in infants and cut it out if the 3 AM gas problem persists in the face of better burping/massage techniques.
posted by daikaisho at 3:31 AM on August 8, 2012

What always worked for my kids was to sit them on my knee and slowly tilt them forward and back whilst rubbing their backs in an upward direction from bottom to top.

Yeah this worked really well for burping my son when he was small(er). Sit him sideways on your knee (so if he's on your left knee, face him to the right so his legs are inbetween yours). One hand on his back and one on his stomach/chest, using your thumbs and first fingers to stabilise the head. Gently rock him forwards (to the right from your POV) and back to upright.

Also seconding bicycle legs for parps and poops (lay on back, gently work legs like he is pedalling a bike), as well as gentle holding his knees to his tummy for ~10 seconds.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:33 AM on August 8, 2012

If the gas gets bad, taking him in a warm shower, or using a hot water bottle (with appropriately gently warm water in it) on his stomach help. Baby #1 used to clutch the hot water bottle to his very gassy, uncomfortable stomach like a dying man with a life raft. We had to make a platypus cover for it so it wouldn't look so sad that he was cuddling a rubber bottle.

I'm not sure it speeds up the process any, but it definitely makes the baby less uncomfortable.

Tummy time can also help with gas, the pressure on the belly can move it along.

My first had reflux and my second had "true" colic, so if it was just annoying grunting, not SCREAMING MY EARDRUMS OUT, at 3 a.m., I'd probably just read a book and tell my spouse to put a pillow over his head or go sleep on the couch, and wait for the grunting to subside. My suggestions mostly require getting out of bed so they may be more than you want to do for grunting.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:17 AM on August 8, 2012

Best answer: A lot of parents think their young infants are having gas when really they're just babies. Specifically, (1) their bowels don't work fully yet, so somethings things are slow and involve some straining, but that doesn't mean "constipation" or any other trouble needing intervention, and (2) some kinds are noisy sleepers. The former just needs patience, as eventually all the contractions will line up and the straining will stop, and the latter is curable by, say, moving the kid out of your room after the last wee-hours feeding, and/or setting up a monitor with a high threshold so that you'll hear crying but not grunting in sleep.

Good luck. This too shall pass!
posted by acm at 6:22 AM on August 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

1. Hold baby upright in front of you, like you're gonna hand him to someone, 2. Hoist him up over your head semi-abruptly while going, "Wheeeeee baby!", 3. Repeat.

Sounds silly, works surprisingly well.
posted by julthumbscrew at 6:53 AM on August 8, 2012

One of mine was tough to burp, and I accidentally discovered that putting him in a baby carrier (like a bjorn, so he was upright) and going up and down the stairs would result in burpage. Something about that particular kind of bouncing. Admittedly kind of a pain in the middle of the night.
posted by ambrosia at 11:58 AM on August 8, 2012

Any time this happened to our baby son, we'd try the following:

(1) Bicycle legs for a bit
(2) Sit him down with his legs out in front. Tilt him forwards at the hip, and slowly roll his upper body round about a vertical axis, so that his head describes a circle centred where his head would be if he were sitting up straight. The sort of motion in the diagram here, except that his eyes face forwards the whole time.
(3) If that doesn't work, hoist him onto your shoulder so he's facing behind you and the ball of your shoulder is in the squishy bit below his ribcage, but not at an angle that would make this uncomfortable for him. Walk around a darkened room while rubbing his back.
(4) If All Else Fails, Try The Colic Hold (good all-purpose advice that worked well for the first three months or so)

ie, ask everyone else you know what they do, then try each suggestion for a couple of minutes in turn; you'll probably get a burp out at some point. I often had doubts about what if anything I'd done to speed the burp up, but at that point I was usually too groggy to care too much and was just delighted that it was sorted out now.

It actually turned out that a lot of his night-time gas problems went away when his mother cut out certain foods (dairy and soy products seemed to be the worst offenders), so if you're breastfeeding you may want to try experimenting with dietary changes.
posted by doop at 2:45 PM on August 8, 2012

I always found it easiest to include back rubs in between pats on the back. Something like:

Pat Pat Pat Ruuuuub Pat Pat Pat Ruuuuub

It always worked better than just patting, but I don't know why. And my wife, who is a nurse, said that gas is expelled easiest when a body is laying on its left side. I've found that this is true (when I've had gas) although I don't know why this is either...
posted by tacodave at 2:51 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Tummy Tub is the best thing ever for this. I've used it often as a nanny and it's always been great. Babies love it and something about the positioning (legs up, sort of fetal) helps with gas and colic.
posted by blue_bicycle at 2:52 PM on August 8, 2012

When our son would look or act uncomfortable we would use Mylicon drops. They work quick and are a big lifesaver.
posted by Sweetmag at 5:29 PM on August 8, 2012

Best answer: My method is spooning, similar to some of the others above. I would sit down and hold the baby on my lap, facing forward like me. Right hand holds his chin (when they were young enough to need the support), left hand gently holds their belly (no pressure, just to keep them in place). Slowly bend forward so the baby gets slightly squished. Straighten up. Repeat until the baby lets out the most enormous burp you can imagine.

I was taught this by a professional baby-burper -- well, a La Leche League consultant -- and it was the best method, by far, for my babies.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:53 PM on August 9, 2012

Nthing laying baby face down along your forearm. Worked wonders for our baby girl.
posted by dil.emma at 6:39 AM on August 11, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions. I've tried many of them and he seems to like the spooning - bicycle legs and leg pumps confuse him but are sometimes effective. All these methods are really effective at burping me, not all of them are effective for the baby. I've cut out milk for a couple of days now - this seems not to be helping the baby but has revealed that I am probably lactose intolerant and now MY intestines are much happier.

The nighttime grunting continues to be loud and prolonged enough to prevent mom and dad from sleeping. We have our 2 month check up soon so I'll ask the doctor for suggestions as well.
posted by bq at 5:58 PM on August 15, 2012

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