Let's Talk About Burps, Baby

Bubbles, belches, burps! As a mom, you become very intimate with all kinds of bodily functions. And when you’re feeding a newborn, burping takes on a new importance. (Who knew you’d care so much about expelling gas?!) If you’ve got questions about burping your baby, we’ve got answers.

When, How and Why Should Babies Burp? Answers To The Most Common Questions Moms Ask

Why is burping helpful?

Burping releases air that can cause a baby to feel uncomfortable and helps prevent spitting up. Relieving that pressure can allow your baby to feed more comfortably and ensure a full feeding.

Do breastfed babies need to burp?

The whole ritual of burping became a thing when bottles entered the scene. With their faster flow, bottles can cause babies to take in more air as they suck than a baby feeding directly from the breast. Breastfed babies can still benefit from burping though, especially if you have a more forceful letdown or a very eager eater. But breastfed babes are usually able to control the flow of milk with their sucking-swallowing-breathing pattern, so if your baby seems content (no squirming, grimacing or resistance to feed), don’t panic if you don’t get the belch you are hoping for.

How much burping is enough? Can babies burp too much?

Every baby is different, but try giving your baby a chance to burp in the middle of a feeding (like when you switch breasts) and again at the end. A mid-feeding burp break can help keep a drowsy baby awake through a feeding. If you’re seeing signs of discomfort or dealing with major spit-ups post-feeding, try adding in a few burping breaks. No rules here—just do what your baby needs.

How can I help my baby take in less air while feeding?

Positioning is huge here: hold baby upright (at a 45-degree angle or greater) and nestled close to your body. Make sure the latch is good and baby’s lips are sealed all the way around. Nursing more frequently will encourage your baby to drink more slowly, as well as take in less milk per feeding.

Is there a right or wrong way to burp my baby?

Nope—as long as you’re gentle and always support the head and neck, do whatever works for the two of you. Here are a few different positions that can gently encourage burps:

  1. Hold baby belly-down against your chest/over your shoulder and pat or rub her back.
  2. Prop baby into a seated position on your lap. Place the thumb and forefinger of your dominant hand under baby’s chin, the other three fingers under their armpit, and the heel of your hand against baby’s belly. Support baby’s back with your other hand and just wait (babies will sometimes burp on their own!) or go ahead and rub or pat the back.
  3. Hold baby under the armpits with legs dangling freely and gently rock his body side-to-side, like a pendulum.
  4. Lie baby belly-down over your thighs. Support her head with one hand and pat or rub her back with the other.

What if burping my baby always ends in spit-up?

Spit-up is pretty normal for new babies, thanks to that all-liquid diet and an esophageal sphincter that isn’t fully developed. Burp cloths and bibs (and the occasional shirt change) will be unavoidable for a time. But you can try a few things to troubleshoot:

  1. Offer your baby smaller, more frequent feedings.
  2. Take more burping breaks during feedings when baby hasn’t taken in as much liquid yet. You’ll free up that extra air bit by bit and prevent bigger bubbles from forming.
  3. Make sure baby is upright—head up and spine extended, not hunched over—while burping.
  4. If bottle-feeding, use paced bottle feeding and a slower-flow nipple.

If you are still dealing with tons of spit up or fussiness, there is a chance that reflux is to blame. Check out some common symptoms of reflux and talk to your pediatrician about a solution

 

By the time babies are a few months old, their digestive systems and sucking patterns have usually matured to the point that they no longer need to be burped with such dedication. That’s one less thing to do during a feeding session and one less bodily function to attend to. As with all things, you and your baby will quickly find your rhythm. Nurse on, mom!