How to Burp Your Baby

Burping your baby successfully is a very important step for them to be comfortable and happy. If babies aren’t burped frequently, too much swallowed air can lead to spitting-up, crankiness and gassiness in some babies. Making sure that excess air is expelled from their tiny tummies is one of the best ways to ensure they are comfortable.

How to burp your baby ~ Breastfed versus Bottle-fed babies:

In many instances, a breastfed baby won’t need as much burping as a bottle-fed one will. The faster flow of milk from bottle nipples forces babies to gulp air in between closely-spaced swallows. Breastfed babies have more control of the flow of milk at the breast and so they suck with a slower rhythm that allows for better breathing and swallowing coordination. Breastfed babies tend to be fed in a more upright position also, enjoying smaller and more frequent feedings. This contributes to less air being swallowed. Still, even breastfed babies need to be burped occasionally, especially if their mother has a strong milk ejection reflex, or they are fast eaters.

How to Burp Your Baby:

Besides the pat on the back, effective burping requires two actions: applying pressure on baby’s tummy and holding in an upright position.

To lessen the likelihood that baby will swallow air, always try to feed baby in an upright position (at a 45 degree angle or greater).

If breastfeeding, help baby keep a comfortable, tight latch-on to minimize the swallowing of air.

Watch for signs that baby needs to burp during or after a feeding: she may squirm and grimace when you lay her down; or there may be a painful expression on her face.

Burping Suggestions:

• Over-the-hand burp: Probably the most widely used method. With your baby sitting on your lap, grasp her chin with your hand. Lean baby forward, resting most of her weight against the palm of your hand and your arm. Gently pat and rub her on the back to move up the air bubbles.

• Over-the-shoulder burp: Drape baby way up over your shoulder so that your shoulder puts pressure against her tummy, then gently rub or pat her back. Sitting in a rocking chair and rocking slowly sometimes helps too.

• Over-the-lap burp: Drape baby over one thigh (legs crossed or spread) so that pressure it put against her tummy. Support baby’s head with one hand while you pat or rub her back with the other hand.

• Nighttime burping: Keep nighttime burping calm and relaxed, so as not to wake baby up more than she is. Sometimes nighttime burping is not necessary, since babies feed in a more relaxed manner and therefore swallow less air.

• Burp and switch: If breastfeeding, some babies are more comfortable if they burp when changing sides. Getting the air up makes room for more milk. This can help avoid large spit-ups when a bubble gets trapped under the milk.

• Knee-to-chest burp: The knee-chest position (flexing baby’s knees up against her chest) helps baby pass excess gas. This position helps those babies that have air trapped in the bottom end as well as the top.

If your baby seems fussy while feeding, stop the session and burp your baby. In the first month or so, try burping your baby every 2-3 ounces (if bottle-fed) and each time you switch breasts if breastfed. If your baby seems fussy, tends to get gassy or has reflux, try burping every 5 minutes or as often as feels comfortable. If your baby doesn’t succeed in burping, try feeding again. Once feeding time is over, always try for one last burp. Try to keep baby in an upright position for 10-15 minutes after feeding, to help prevent any milk being spit-up.

Don’t worry if your baby does spit-up occasionally. Although it looks unpleasant to you, to your baby it’s nothing. What can look like a lot of liquid is usually no more than a teaspoon. Very frequent spitting-up or projectile vomiting should always been discussed with your pediatrician or health care provider, as it could mean a more serious problem.

If your baby awakens in the night, it may be because of trapped gas. Picking your little one up to burp might be enough to put them back to sleep. Don’t worry if you don’t manage to bring up a burp at every feeding, this might be because the feeding was a snack-type meal, and less or no air was swallowed. As your baby gets older and more skilled at feeding, burping will become less of an issue.