Farting Your Baby: The Secret to Infant Gas Relief
Burping a baby is a well-known practice that usually helps to relieve some of the copious amounts of gas that babies build up, usually directly after a feeding or sometimes at night when babies tend to be gassier. But truthfully, it was the practice of FARTING my baby that ended up being a personal lifesaver. While the internet usually tends to refer to this practice as a type of "baby massage", I suggest we call it what it really is.
How Does It Help?
Farting your baby, or giving a "baby massage", helps to relieve gas in a similar way that burping does...just out of a different end. It promotes the movement of gas naturally through the digestive system and releases some of the gas, providing instant relief to your little one.
How Do I Know My Baby is Gassy?
Aside from the standard expectation of crying, there are a lot of non-verbal cues that a baby can give when they are experiencing discomfort due to gas. My son's personal favorite was to (in a laying position) lift his legs up and then slam them down repeatedly. (He has always been dramatic. Gets it from me.) Other common cues usually involve arching their backs, grunting, pulling their legs to their chest, straining (like they're trying to poop) and sometimes even a slightly swollen tummy.
If you ever notice that their tummy is swollen and unusually hard, this may be a sign of constipation and it would be best to call your pediatrician.
How Does it Work?
There are a lot of effective methods floating around on the internet and even a recent TikTok challenge (#babyfartchallenge) that may help provide a few helpful ideas. However, the video below is the one I found to be most useful when my little one was colicky. I liked the added benefit of the tummy massage to break up bubbles before applying any pressure to the legs. I added this as part of our bedtime routine as well (after his bath) to help relieve any built up gas before he settled in for sleep. It was almost a night and day difference.
As always, be sure check in with your pediatrician to see if there are any specific recommendations they may have for your baby to help in this process.
Other (Natural) Tips to Keep in Mind
If farting your baby isn't exactly what you had in mind when dreaming of parenthood, you're definitely not alone. However, there are a ton of other ways you can help provide some relief for your little one (alongside traditional burping). I often found that rotating out a lot of these methods during the day helped to provide some comfort for my son (and a little extra sleep for me):
Belly Rubs. By warming up the belly and promoting natural digestive movement, gas bubbles can break down easier while also providing an overall enjoyable experience for your baby. I mean, who wouldn't love a mid-day belly massage?
Always burp mid-feed. Whether you are bottle feeding or breastfeeding, take a short break halfway through to burp (or fart) your baby then repeat this at the end of their feeding. It can sometimes be easier to release smaller amounts of gas in multiple short sessions than try to address a larger amount of gas at the end.
Keep them upright for 15-20 minutes after feeding. This doesn't have to mean straight up and down - even cradling them at a slight an incline can help. Not only does this help gas move upwards (and easier to burp out), but it can also reduce reflux and spit-up.
Bicycle Kicks. Lay your baby on their back on a soft, but firm surface and pump their little legs in a back-and-forth, circular motion as if they were riding a bicycle.
Cut out beans, cabbage and broccoli from your diet. This one is for all the breastfeeding moms. The foods you eat can contribute to your baby's gassiness when passed to them through breastmilk. Check out a list of some of the most common gas-causing foods and try cutting out one item at a time until you notice a significant difference.
For any moms who are interested in trying out store-bought products, items such as gas drops, gripe water and anti-colic bottles (for my bottle-feeding mommas) can help to reduce gassiness as well!