How to Burp a Baby the Right Way – A Complete Guide for New Moms

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How to burp a baby?

How does burping help a baby?

What is the correct technique to burp?

how to burp a baby

Along with lessons on how to feed, dress, bath and massage a baby, one of the first lessons we moms’ get soon after delivery is how to burp a baby. I still remember how the pediatrician explained the burping technique.

Even after a demo from the nurse I was confused or should I say scared on how to burp. I had never held a newborn before. This added to my fear.

What if I don’t get the burping technique right? How much force should I use to pat my baby’s delicate back? I was scared to even hug her tightly, so you can understand my predicament.

I am pretty sure most new moms sail in the same boat as I did during my baby’s newborn days. So, in todays post let us discuss everything about effective burping technique and importance of burping a newborn.

What is a burp?

A burp, which is also sometimes called a belch, is the release of air up the esophagus and out of the mouth. This air that is expelled out through the mouth is the extra air that you swallow while you eat or drink.

Gas can also be formed inside your stomach due to foods you eat or medications you take.

In babies who are exclusively breastfed or formula fed, in addition to the gas they swallow while feeding, gas can also develop as a result of improper digestion, lactose intolerance or reaction to the food the breastfeeding mom takes or due to the type of formula that the baby drinks.

What does it mean by burping a baby?

While feeding, your munchkin ends up swallowing a bit of air. He/ she may get some air in even while crying.

As newborns are so small and spend most of their time lying down it is difficult for them to expel the extra air on their own. They need help from us to burp properly and timely. Burping a baby simply means to help baby release this extra swallowed gas.

A few gentle pats on the baby’s back is enough to make a baby burp. Having said that some babies won’t burp even if you pat.

 How does burping help your baby?

As said before while feeding and/or crying, your munchkin ends up swallowing a bit of air as well. This air ends up in the tummy and can cause your munchkin to become cranky, uncomfortable and feeling full despite not having had their fill. This air that goes in can also induce spit up.

Burping helps to release this air out of the mouth (just like adults, but in their case it is cute and they can get away without excusing themselves).

Let us see some benefits of burping a baby:

#1. Relieves discomfort

You yourself must have experienced the discomfort and queasiness when you are gassy. Same is the case with newborns. The extra air that is trapped inside the stomach can cause discomfort to the baby. Burping helps to relieve this discomfort.

#2. Aids digestion

Excess air in the tummy interferes with proper digestion. Burping helps in proper digestion by expelling the excess air.

#3. Lessens colic

There are many reasons for colic in babies but experts say that one of the main reasons is stomach discomfort. And the main reason for stomach discomfort in exclusively breastfed or bottle-fed babies is the excessive gas swallowed in while feeding.

Burping a baby properly and regularly helps to reduce colic in babies by lessening stomach discomfort.

#4. Good sleep

Most babies tend to wake up too often at night. A night feed may not sooth some of the crying babies nor put them back to sleep. One of the reasons for your little ones interrupted sleep may be gas. Burp and expel the extra gas and you can see that your cranky baby is back to sleep.

#5. Less spitting

The more air a baby swallows while feeding, the greater the chances of spitting the food or liquid she has eaten. The air that gets trapped in while feeding has to come up, and when it does it pushes some of the liquid too along with it and this causes spitting.

To reduce the chances of spitting, burp the baby in between feeds so that if there is any air swallowed, it will come up before even more solid or liquid food is layered on top of it.

When to burp a baby?

It is recommended that you always burp your child after every feed. It is also good if you burp your kiddo before switching breasts or when he slows down during the feed. If your baby is bottle-fed, burp after every 2 to 3 ounce of formula.

If your little one protests while feeding, try burping him and then feeding him. If your baby is protesting while taking time out to burp, it could mean that he/she hasn’t had her fill. Continue feeding for a little more and then try to burp.

Burping breastfed babies Vs. bottle-fed babies:

The general observation is that breast fed babies need to be burped less than bottle fed babies. But having said that, at times breast fed babies can become gassy too, if they feed fast or you have a fast flow of milk.

Bottle-fed babies swallow more air and tend to experience more problems related to gas than their breast-fed peers. This is mostly because of the difference in the way the baby latch onto the bottle nipple and the way the formula milk passes through the nipple. So it is advised to burp a bottle-fed baby after every 2 to 3 ounces of bottle-feed while it is ok for the breastfed babies to be burped only at the end of each feed.

Read:

How to burp a baby? – newborn burping positions

While some babies are really prompt when it comes to burping, some really test your patience.

Well what do I say, babies are different, and so the burp positions suitable for them are also different. Which is why I have listed down different burping techniques for newborns. It may take a few tries to get the style (or styles) that suits you and your baby.

#1. Upright position

Here, you need to sit straight and hold your baby with one hand by supporting him against your chest. The chin of your baby should rest on your shoulder and his stomach should be gently pressed onto your chest. Use the other hand to slowly pat or massage your baby’s back.

Do this for a few seconds to few minutes until the baby burps.

#2. Seated on the lap position

Seat the baby on your lap, by offering support to the chest and head with one hand. The heel of your palm should be on the baby’s chest and your fingers on the chin to give good support.

Now with the other hand slowly pat the baby’s back till he or she burps.

#3. Over the lap, face down Position

Lay your baby on his/her belly over your lap ensuring that the baby’s head is higher than the chest. The baby’s head should be resting on your one leg and stomach on the other.

Pat gently on the baby’s back. In this position, ensure that you are supporting the head well.

How long will it take the baby to burp?

This is a question that you need to ask your baby. Now before you label me crazy, it is actually possible for you to look at your child and figure out if the burping process was enough.

Some babies burp as soon as we hold them in an upright position or as soon as we pat their back and while some won’t even show the slightest sign of releasing gas even after so many attempts.

If your baby is still uncomfortable or squirming after burping, it could mean that there is still some more gas that needs to be let out. Try switching styles and position to ensure that he/she burps and is content.

If you can’t get baby to burp even after trying for more than 5 minutes, but the baby seems fine, then it is possible that the air is already out.

When your baby hasn’t burped chances of spitting up is high. In such cases, hold the baby upright for almost 20 to 30 minutes giving time for the milk to settle in properly.

Burping while sleeping:

So, what happens if your little one has slept off while feeding?

It is not a really good idea to let your baby who is younger than 5 months sleep without burping.

If your baby can sleep through anything, then go ahead and burp. If he wakes up at the slightest sound, try rubbing the back rather than thumping the back.

If your baby sleeps through the feed, but ends up waking up feeling cranky then you definitely have to burp him/her so that the baby can sleep longer.

 Till what age should we burp a baby?

Newborns need to be burped more than older kids as their systems are still getting a hang of the whole feeding process.

Most parents stop burping their kids between 6 to 9 months of age. Often when babies start to sit unsupported on their own, they can burp themselves without you patting or stroking them. But if your baby has lot of gas or has reflux problems she or he may need you to help her burp until she is a little older.

What are other ways to relieve gas?

Sometimes patting and stroking will not be enough to bring out the trapped air through the mouth. There is nothing wrong if the baby doesn’t burp and if she is calm and normal.

But if the baby seems uncomfortable and has not burped even after so many tries and you feel that the trapped air is the culprit, then you can try giving a gentle tummy massage. Gently move your hands over your baby’s tummy in a clockwise circular motion. This can help to release trapped wind.

Another way is to do cycling motions with her legs. Lay your baby on the bed and slowly hold his feet and bring it to his/her chest alternatively like peddling a cycle. The cycling motion of legs helps to press the tummy and releases gas. While cycling the gas may come out through the other end too. But either way the gas is relieved.

If gas is a regular problem that makes your baby uncomfortable, then consult a doctor. 

Burp cloth- the only one burp essential you need:

Mommies, most of you already have realized how useful this piece of cloth is. For those of you who are still lamenting the spit up stains on their favorite top, let me introduce you to the burp cloth. This comes in handy as not all burps are dry. Sometimes your baby can spit up a little while burping, this is normal.

While feeding keep a burp cloth handy so that while you burp you can place the cloth below your baby’s chin according to the burping position.

Note: While spitting up is normal, vomiting is not. So if your baby is vomiting, you may need to get him/her checked.

Other ways to reduce gas in babies below 6 months:

  • Hold the baby as upright as you can while feeding.
  • Avoid gassy foods if you are breastfeeding
  • For bottle fed babies, ensure that the nipple is age appropriate and the flow is not too fast.
  • Ensure that the milk bottle is titled in a way that the milk covers the hole of the nipple.
  • Consult pediatrician and give apt formula milk that suits your baby.
  • Buy an anti-colic feeding bottle.
  • Give amble tummy time

If your baby has started solids, ensure he gets proper time to chew and swallow properly. Don’t stuff in food. Avoid gassy foods.

Also read about how asafoetida worked wonders for my daughter’s gas problems

Mommies, hope this post has answered at least some of your questions on how to burp a baby. Anything more on how to get a baby to burp, do share it with us in the comments.

Also share with us which is your favorite style of burping and why. When did you stop burping your baby?

About Author

A stay at home mom for a feisty 19 month old named Ahaana, Chitra Santosh has rekindled her romance with words once again now. Though Arakkonam is her home, she can be seen migrating to Mavelikara, a quaint little town in Alappey during summers. Studies have shown that this has no connection with the migratory patterns of birds.

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