PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay
Following a feed, always burp your baby properly
• There are a few effective ways that you can to burp your baby
• Know what to expect when burping — and when to know when something is wrong
• Regular burping means your baby won’t get gassy and cranky
Once you have fed your baby, then comes the essential job of burping your little one. Patting and stroking your baby’s back helps their still-developing digestive system to get rid of some of the air that inevitably gets swallowed during feeding. This will save them a lot of discomfort.
As a rule, try to burp your baby after every ounce of feed during bottle-feeding, or every ten minutes, particularly if they tend to spit a lot, are quite gassy, are squirming or fussy during feeding, or have been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
If you’ve noticed baby swallowing a lot of air when you are breastfeeding, he or she might not be latching on to your nipple properly, so you might want to try a feeding nipple, or consult your midwife for advice.
What should I know before burping my baby?
“Spit-up is normal, especially if your baby is very young.”
First of all, be prepared. Spit-up is normal, particularly when a baby is very young. So, have a towel or wipes handy for a quick clean-up. Reduce the chance of this happening by keeping your baby upright after feeding for at least 10 minutes, or longer if they have GERD. If you think your baby is spitting up more frequently than normal, consult their pediatrician.
If your baby doesn’t burp after a few minutes, try a different position for a few more minutes before feeding again. They might simply not need to burp!
The key to successful burping is to hold your baby in an upright position while there is gentle pressure applied to their belly, and gently pat with a cupped palm or rub their back.
The best burping positions:
Over your shoulder: Your baby’s chin is resting on your shoulder. Support baby with one hand, using the other to pat their back. People often do this as they walk so they can gently jiggle baby, or sit and gently rock in a chair.
“You could also move your baby further over your shoulder, so that the pressure on their belly is provided by the top of your shoulder. This is really only suitable for quite young babies.”
Across your lap: Cradle baby’s chin in the palm of your hand to support their head and neck whilst they’re belly down on your lap. Ensure there is no restriction to their throat or nose.
Your upper thigh should provide gentle pressure to the baby’s belly. Then, you can use your other hand to pat or rub the baby’s back.
On your arm: This method is only suitable for very young babies. Lay baby face down along your forearm, so their head is near your elbow. Your hand of the arm baby is laying on will support the diaper area, with the side of baby’s body resting against your body while you pat with your other hand.
“Gently pat with a cupped palm or rub baby’s back.”
Twist it, baby!
In addition to these common positions, you could also try gently rotating your baby’s body to get trapped gas out. Do this by sitting baby upright in your lap, support their head with one hand and their back with your other hand, and move baby’s torso in a circular motion.
How will I know if there are any problems?
We have mentioned gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD a couple of times. This condition is relatively common but unpleasant for parent and child. It’s where baby’s stomach contents move upward, bringing undigested food and acid up into the esophagus and out of the mouth.
Thankfully babies usually grow out of this uncomfortable condition by their first birthday
“This condition is common, but unpleasant.”
Colic is another common condition. No one knows exactly what causes it, but it’s best described as the baby version of growing pains. The term applies to a healthy, well-fed baby that cries more than three hours a day, for more than three days a week, for over three weeks.
Colic starts when babies are around two weeks old and goes away by itself after a few months. This crying is often blamed on trapped wind, but in fact, the crying when a baby experiences colic causes gas as the baby swallows air from crying.
As time goes by
With a newborn, it is pretty much a cycle of sleep, cry, feed, burp. However, as time goes on you won’t need to worry so much about burping baby after meals.
Your baby will reduce the amount they belch or spit up after feeding over time. This usually comes at around six to nine months old and is often when baby can sit up by themselves.
However, every baby develops at different stages, and if your baby is still irritable or fussy after feeds, you may need to carry on burping them for a little while longer.
A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:
A guide for different foods that could be bad for your baby.
Diet and lifestyle advice for a happy, healthy pregnancy.