Air-Free Feeding to Help Baby Sleep Better
Harken back to the age-old question from every new parent: Will this child of mine ever sleep? It’s an even more significant question for parents of babies with colic.
And, yes, eventually that child of yours will sleep. Figuring out what helps baby sleep, both deeper and longer, might just take thinking outside the box – and into breast or bottle feeding.
Air-Free Feeding for Better Sleeping
If you’ve ever tried going to bed with heartburn or stomach pain, you’ll know a bit about what it’s like for a baby to sleep with reflux and gas – i.e., it’s not going to happen. A common culprit of creating gas and reflux is feeding time.
The more air baby intakes during feedings, the more likely reflux and gas will show up. Minimizing air intake up-front and helping baby release built up air can help them get comfortable enough for deep-sleep naps and bedtime.
Minimizing Air in Baby Bellies
While breastfeeding, use an angled feeding pillow to ensure baby is positioned semi-upright to upright. This will help baby avoid triggered gulping that happens when liquid goes down the throat in the supine position.
If you see baby taking big gulps even when breastfeeding upright, you might be dealing with an overactive letdown. While you will definitely want to speak with your lactation consultant, one option to slowing your flow would be to lean back on a pillow and place baby on you, belly to belly. Gravity will help slow your flow and give baby a bit more control over latching.
During Bottle Feeding
Using an angled feeding position also applies to bottle feeding. Additionally, tilt the bottle enough so the nipple is always filled throughout feeding. Here’s why: When baby swallows, more milk is drawn into baby’s mouth; if no milk is there, they’ll draw air into their mouth, instead.
If you’re practicing paced feeding, give baby a break by tipping the bottle back up and moving the bottle nipple to the top of baby’s mouth. This prevents dripping into their mouth yet allows them to keep the nipple in – much like they would do during breastfeeding.
Choose a Bottle That Offers Air-Free Feeding
The type of bottle you use can be one cause of air getting in baby’s belly during bottle feeding. Just ask Dr. Rebecca Kempton, Certified Infant and Toddler Pediatric Sleep Specialist, founder of Baby Sleep Pro, and hero of thousands of sleepy parents and babies. “When helping parents with their baby’s sleep issues, I discuss bottle feeding because it can have an impact on a baby’s ability to settle easily. Air can build up in bottles and end up in baby’s belly, which causes gas and reflux that can make it difficult to fall and stay asleep calmly.”
Utilizing a fully vented bottle is important to minimizing air – but you’ll find that not all vented bottles are created equal. That’s why Dr. Kempton recommends the only bottle that eliminates air completely: Dr. Brown’s. And she’s not alone; Dr. Brown’s is the number one pediatrician recommended bottle in the United States.
What makes our bottles unique is the one-of-a-kind vent and reservoir that keeps air out of baby’s milk, so it never even makes it to baby’s belly. It’s so effective that it’s been clinically proven to reduce colic – which means you’re likely to see a difference in your colicky baby’s symptoms just by using Dr. Brown’s bottles.
Releasing Air in Baby Bellies
If baby is bringing his legs up to his tummy or is generally squirmy after feeding, that may be a sign he’s dealing with some pent-up gas. Here are a few quick tips for releasing air:
- Slow down feedings and take time to burp baby and pat his bottom to release gas. The additional pauses give baby the ability to better digest milk or formula throughout feeding, rather than rushing through it and filling his tummy to the brim too fast.
- Try the bicycle method to help baby release gas. Just lay him flat, hold his feet and mimic the motion of bicycle riding. Sing a song, make silly faces, and otherwise engage with him to make it fun. Take a moment to hold both of his feet, slightly lifting him, and gently rotate his hips to help work out the gas.
- Giving baby a belly massage is another way to help trapped air escape. There are several massage techniques you can use. Gently place your hand on his belly and rub clockwise to help air move through and out his body. Another technique includes placing your fingertips on his abdomen and in a clockwise motion, massaging in small circles.
Keeping baby bellies full of milk or formula rather than air goes a long way towards helping everyone get a long night of sleep. If you have any questions about air-free feeding and the Dr. Brown’s bottle, feel free to reach out!