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Finally, a Cure for Colic and Reflux!

Photograph by Getty Images/Brand X

German babies are hardly ever prescribed reflux medicine, unlike their American counterparts. As it turns out, an age-old German trick keeps these kiddos colic-free.

As the research stands, more than 50 percent of babies are diagnosed with acid reflux, sending parents on a panicked search to identify allergies, food sensitivities, and go on a crash elimination diet to make sure baby isn't getting anything bad from Mom's diet. And if that doesn't work, parents start giving their babies Prilosec.

When I brought the topic up to my German cousins, their jaws dropped. Moms on elimination diets? Dairy-free babies? Drugs? It was all unheard of to them.

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Sure, there are babies in Germany that develop allergies or have tummy troubles, but they are in the minority. What makes the big difference? Apparently, Germany's moms, dads and babies are expert farmers.

Yes, farmers! The German phrase for burping a child–ein Bäuerchen machen—means "make a little farmer" and doing so can greatly reduce the instances of spit-up, colic and gas.

So, are you ready to master the little farmer? Here's how it goes:

Step 1: Position the Baby Properly

Lay the baby a little higher that you normally would, so that your breast is gently pushing against its stomach. Lean slightly forward so that the head is leaning back just a little, making it easier to unleash the burp.

German women have been burping their babies this way since the get go, and swear that anything less will lead to colic.

Step 2: Tap in an Upward Motion

While tapping your baby straight on the back will work, you'll have more luck wiggling out the burps if you angle the tap upward. You want to tap on the lower back at first, then slowly move to the upper back. Don't be afraid to use a little power here. A lot of people tap too gently to actually get things moving.

Step 3: Burp Three Times. Every Time.

When my mom first taught me how to burp my son, I thought she was crazy. Three times? Even if the first burp was huge?

The answer is yes. German women have been burping their babies this way since the get-go, and swear that anything less will lead to colic.

Well, as it turns out, there were always three burps, and my son has only spit-up twice in his life—once due to improper burping, once because of a wicked cough. The same held true for my new nephew, who had terrible colic until he met his Oma. Within a day, he was completely cured.

Pump Those Arms

In severe cases of colic, you may have to lift Baby's arms a few times and repeat.

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Alternative positions

There are two other ways you can angle your baby while your burping them: the crossover arm and on your lap.

  • Crossover Arm: Lay the baby straight across your arm with its head in your hand. Slightly angle your arm and the head, and tap away.
  • On Your Lap: Lay the baby across your lap, so that the head is resting on one leg, and your other leg is at the bottom of their belly. Tap the middle of the back, in the direction of the head.

The Other Colic Cure

All that being said, there are still babies who get colic and gas in Germany, but rather than prescribing drugs, Germans have an age-old go to remedy that they swear by: fennel tea. HIPP, the German baby-food and formula manufacturer, sells special baby tea either in tea bags or powdered form, although fresh fennel steeped in water or a diluted adult fennel tea will also do the trick. Germans will normally give their babies unsweetened tea, unless the baby is sick or really fussy.

The reason fennel works so well is because of its carminative volatile oils—anethole—which help relieve gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea, and also act as an anti-inflammatory.

Hey, it's all worth a shot, right?

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