Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Tips for winding your baby

Does your baby scream every time they are laid on a changing mat?

Does your baby happily fall asleep in your arms, but scream the second they are laid in their cot?

There's a good chance they still have wind.

Even when they fall asleep in your arms after a feed and you wait a good half an hour before trying to transfer them to a cot, there's a good chance any screaming is to do with wind.

Our eldest particularly struggled with this, because it took us such a long time to work it out.  We'd wind her; she'd bring up some wind and snuggle into our arms, or up on our shoulder.  She'd fall to sleep.  Then we'd try and transfer her to a cot and the screaming would start instantly.  We thought it was all to do with wanting cuddles.  She'd sleep in her bouncy chair; sitting upright of course.  She'd sleep in her car seat. Sitting upright.  Spot the pattern yet?.  But she wouldn't sleep flat.  Eventually we learnt that she still had wind.

We discovered that we needed to test our winding success by leaning her back into a flat position whilst still on our knee.  If she started to scream, or arched her back, or pulled her legs up to her chest, then the wind hadn't all cleared, and we'd continue to wind her.

Sometimes she'd scream throughout the winding, and fling herself backwards whilst we were trying to sit her on our knee to wind her.  We learnt to stay calm and keep winding, because that was the only solution.

Some tips for good winding include:

  • sit baby up on your knee, leaning slightly forwards, chin supported with one hand (obviously away from the neck) and rub your hand repetitively up baby's back.
  • Whilst in this position, different rubbing techniques include using two fingers to snake up either side of the spine in a wave motion.
  • Alternate rubbing (always upwards) with panting on the back.  Three or four pants, starting low on the back and moving upwards are particularly effective.
  • Some parents find winding up on their shoulder easier.  The same hand motions can be used.
  • Don't forget to use a muslin to protect your knee or shoulder in case more comes up than air!
Just remember you are trying to ease a pocket of air out from their tummy upwards to their mouth.  So the most effective winding eases the air pockets upwards.

Your baby may start to fall asleep sat up on your knee (despite how uncomfortable it looks).  Don't be fooled though.  Gently lie them backwards, to a flat back position.  If they wake screaming, your job isn't yet finished.  Keep that winding going.  If, however, they stay asleep, your work here is done.  Transfer to cot and pop the kettle on quick!  You probably won't get long!

I hope that helps.

For tips on how to change a nappy click here.


  1. I think that will help lots of people. I think my daughter did suffer from lots of wind when she was a baby. Sometimes even extreme winding didn't work ;-). Baby massage and lying her flat, then cycling and crossing her legs often gave relief though too.

    1. Thank you. I appreciate that. Yes, essentially you are massaging the air up and out.

      The good news is they grow out of it eventually!


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