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Parenting

How To Burp A Baby and Why It’s Important

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Wouldn’t it be nice if your baby came with their own personalized Care and Feeding pamphlet? Then if you had a question you could turn to page 2 for how to soothe your infant, page 7 for diaper rash tricks, and page 19 for exactly how to burp your baby. Getting that big, satisfying burp from your infant can sometimes bring up more questions than actual burps. So, we’ve talked to an expert to get the 411 on burping positions, why burping is important, and all the other questions that arise with those tiny air bubbles that ultimately require a zillion burp cloths

Why is it important to burp a baby?

Pediatrician and Bobbie Medical Expert, Dr. Amna Husain, says that burping your baby is important because it helps remove trapped air from the stomach. “In the first few months of life, babies don’t move around much on their own and need help removing this trapped air,” says Dr. Husain. A baby swallows air along with their milk, and the process of burping helps remove that air. That extra baby gas is pushed out of their belly, up through the esophagus, and out their mouth as a big baby burp. 

How to burp a baby; The 3 best ways to burp a baby

There are several positions for burping that you and your infant can try, and Dr. Husain explains that finding the ideal one will involve trial and error. There’s no exact science for why some babies prefer one method over another, so go with what seems comfortable for your infant. When it comes to patting your baby, Dr. Husain says that regardless of the position, gently pat your baby on the back (not on the bottom) to aid in burping. Patting your baby helps bring up that extra swallowed air so your baby doesn’t feel uncomfortable and gassy. Remember, there’s no set order in which to try these. 

1. Over the shoulder burping: Place your baby’s upper abdomen (or stomach region) against your shoulder. This provides some gentle counter pressure to assist you with burping. Then pat your baby on their mid to upper back to help move the air up and out. Dr. Husain likes this method because, “if your baby spits up frequently, the spit-up will go over your shoulder rather than on your clothes,” she says. If your baby is unable to hold their head above your shoulder, hold your baby so their head rests against your shoulder instead—just remember your favorite burp cloth! 

2. Sitting up burping: This method is Dr. Husain’s personal favorite. “It’s easy to do and not so tough on the body #momshoulderache!” Sit your baby on your lap and support your baby by holding their chin between your index and thumb under their ears. Lean your baby forward a little and begin a gentle patting. Let this posture work for your baby as the sitting up moves air to the top of the stomach and the leaning puts gentle pressure on the tummy to expel it. 

3. Laying across the lap burping: In this case, we might not be saving the best for last because Dr. Husain reveals this is her least favorite. “I think it leads to more vomiting and it’s tough to see the infant’s face.” For those wanting to try, place your baby face down on your lap. Support their head with your free hand and with your other hand pat their back. Dr. Husain adds that this method may be a little uncomfortable for your baby as she has found a baby’s body often feels resistant here.

Is there an optimal burping position? 

Every baby is different which is why Dr. Husain says there’s no one better position. “Finding a position that works best for you and your baby will involve trial and error and may differ from time to time,” she reassures. Try each position as often as you’d like, and don’t forget you can try multiple positions during any burp time. 

Why do you have to burp babies?

When babies are in their first weeks and months of life, they aren’t able to burp themselves. Burping gets rid of the extra air they swallow after feeding because leaving that air in their tiny tummies can make your infant feel bloated and uncomfortable. 

How can I make my baby burp faster?

Burping a newborn in the middle of the night can feel like it takes all night. That’s when you dream of a burping trick to make your baby burp faster. Even though there’s no magic burping trick to help your baby belch like the wind they’re making, Dr. Husain says it’s all about positioning: Air rises, so if you nurse a baby while they’re sitting up, and then burp them sitting up, you’ll find the burp will happen pretty quickly.

Do you burp a baby immediately after feeding?

If you find your baby takes in a lot of air while feeding then you may want to burp more frequently, Dr. Husain says. For breastfed babies, she typically recommends burping in between breasts. If you bottle-feed, she suggests burping after every several ounces of a bottle. “A good rule of thumb is burping every 10-15 minutes,” she advises. 

Do they have to be burped after every feeding?

If you’re waiting to hear that tiny burp, you should know that not all babies will. However, babies cry and can become particularly cranky if they feel the need to burp. Dr. Husain encourages you to walk around with your baby as this can help your baby relax. Another burping trick is to feed your infant a little more so their stomach feels full. 

What happens if my baby doesn’t burp?

If your hand has grown numb from all that back-patting but no burps, don’t worry. Not every baby is a burper and your baby will likely pass out the trapped gas from the other end. Dr. Husain explains that your baby might experience some discomfort, however, they might feel nothing at all! “You don’t need to force a burp, especially after 10-15 min of trying,” she says. 

Are babies uncomfortable until they burp?

Since not all babies burp, or belch it up during every burping session, your baby might be totally happy without burping. However, there are signs your little one could be uncomfortable, so Dr. Husain gives these four indicators your infant might still need to get rid of trapped tummy air: 

  • Fussy and/or crying
  • Not feeding comfortably
  • Difficulty latching
  • Pulling away from the bottle or breast

How long do you burp a baby if they don’t burp?

When talking about how long it takes a baby to burp, each baby is different. While some can burp as soon as they’re done feeding, others can take several minutes or longer. If your baby hasn’t burped after trying different methods, walking around, and offering a bit more to eat, Dr. Husain reminds you never need to force a burp—especially after 10 to 15 minutes of doing all the things. 

What if a baby doesn’t burp and falls asleep?

If your baby goes straight from being blissfully milk drunk to falling asleep without burping, Dr. Husain says, she wouldn’t stress. “Burping isn’t a must if the baby is relatively comfortable,” she offers. 

Is it OK not to burp a baby at night?

If your baby immediately falls asleep after their nighttime feeding, they’ll be fine without burping.

Dr. Husain’s Pro Tip: If you dream feed your baby (either bottle or breast), know that it isn’t always necessary to burp them. Your baby may be more relaxed and take in less air in general as they feed.

Do breastfed babies need to be burped?

While breastfed babies may need to be burped less often than bottle-fed babies, your breastfed baby should still be burped. Dr. Husain recommends burping when you switch breasts, and you may find it easier to burp more frequently in the newborn days when your baby nurses from only one breast. 

Do formula-fed babies need to be burped?

Formula-fed babies tend to take in more air while feeding, so give your baby a chance to burp it out. “I recommend trying to burp your baby after every several ounces of formula,” says Dr. Husain. Generally, she suggests burping formula-fed babies as frequently as breastfed babies especially if fed via the paced bottle feeding method. 

What happens if you don’t burp a baby?

Burping your baby in the first few weeks to months of their life helps relieve the extra air they swallowed during feeding. All babies are different so some will burp quickly while others may skip burp time. If you don’t burp your baby and they have trapped gas, they’ll probably just expel it from the other end. 

At what month can you stop burping a baby?

While there’s no hard stopping point for burping your baby, the general time frame is from 4 to 6 months. “Once your baby can move (sit up and rollover), they may not need to be burped,” says. Dr. Husain. She goes on to explain that your little one may burp themselves as mobilization of air occurs with movement. 

Is there a burping trick ?

Dr. Husain invites you to move your baby to the other shoulder or rock them forward and back if sitting up on your lap. She explains this can help mobilize air and bring out the burps. 

How much spit up is normal during burping?

If you’re running out of burp cloths, know that spitting up is totally normal. “If it’s under 15 ml, I’m usually not concerned as it often has to do with their esophagus taking some time to develop muscle which will happen within the first few months,” Dr. Husain says. 

Do bottle fed babies burp more?

You’d be right if you noticed your bottle-fed baby burping more frequently.  “Bottle-fed babies are more likely to take air in especially if you are using paced bottle feeding techniques,” Dr. Husain reveals. 

Conclusion on burping your baby

While there are several positions and burping tricks to try, you and your baby will figure out the best ones together. Burp time can become lovely bonding moments for you and your little one— a time when the sounds of your gentle rhythmic patting increase your trust and connection— and gives your one arm a fabulous workout. 

The content on this site is for informational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Discuss any health or feeding concerns with your infant's pediatrician. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay it based on the content on this page.
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The content on this site is for informational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Discuss any health or feeding concerns with your infant’s pediatrician. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay it based on the content on this page.

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