Along with working out how to put tiny, wriggling arms and legs into a sleepsuit, changing nappies and learning how to safely take a wet, slippery newborn from the bath, one of the things parents will spend a lot of time doing is burping their baby! But what is the best way to burp a baby?
I had four babies, each of them fed differently and each of them had a preferred schedule and position for a baby burp. So whether your baby is a big belcher or a little burper, in this blog you will discover all you need to know about burping your baby.
why does my baby need to burp?
When your baby feeds, when they cry, and even as they breathe they can swallow air. These little air bubbles can become trapped in their tummy causing a lot of discomfort and making them a little grouchy. Burping your baby before the bubbles get trapped can help relieve that uncomfortable tummy pressure and burping your baby when they’re feeding will help to free up room in their tiny tummy to comfortably continue feeding and settle for longer.
when should i burp my baby?
There are no set rules when it comes to burping your baby. Some babies need burping during a feed, some after, and others will rarely need to at all. Look to your baby for clues – If they seem uncomfortable, start to wriggle, frown, stop feeding, or start fussing - take a little burp break. If they seem fine however, wait until they’ve finished.
A good opportunity to burp your baby is when you switch breasts if you’re breastfeeding or break off halfway through (and more often if needed) a bottle feed. Because we don’t know how much air gets in their tummies, it is a good idea to burp your baby after a feed even if they seem fairly content. Sometimes, especially during night feeds, your baby may drift off to sleep before they’re burped. It can be tempting to just lay them down without a burp but this can cause them to wake up with wind a little later on. There’s no need to wake them, you can burp a baby who's sleeping in the same way you burp a baby who is awake.
do bottle-fed babies need more burping than breastfed babies?
Breastfed babies generally need less burping as they tend to swallow less air than bottle-fed babies because they can control the flow of milk better and suck at a slower pace. They are also more likely to have smaller and more frequent feeds and be fed in an upright position which can reduce wind. However, because with babies there are always exceptions - if you have lots of milk that flows quickly, or your baby is a fast feeder, you might find your breastfed baby needs to burp more often.
If your bottle-fed baby (either with formula or expressed breastmilk) is experiencing a lot of trapped wind, try feeding them as upright as possible and make sure that the bottle is tilted enough for the milk to completely fill the end of the teat. You might also want to try anti-colic bottles and teats which are designed to prevent your baby from taking in as much air. You should also make sure you’re using the correct flow teat as if the hole is too big, milk or formula will flow too quickly for your baby making them gulp and swallow air.
what is the best way to burp a baby?
There are a few different ways to burp your baby and you’ll no doubt get lots of burp tips from friends and relatives. The only way to find out which works best for your baby is to try them all out – you might find that you need to use a combination to release that sometimes elusive ‘burp’!
Remember, whichever way you burp your baby, always support their head and neck. Make sure their tummy and back are nice and straight and rub or pat their back gently. Slow is best with steady pressure and circular motions. Working out the right pressure for a rub or pat will become easy and you’ll be a burping expert in no time.
Don’t forget your muslin cloth or burp cloth as babies often bring up a little milk with a burp which is totally normal for newborns as the muscle at the entrance of the stomach is still developing.
Over your shoulder - move baby up so their chin is resting on your shoulder (this can be a little tricky with a tiny newborn, but you’ll soon get the hang of it), support their head and shoulders with one hand and gently rub and pat their back with the other. It might help to walk around as you are doing this.
Sitting up - sit baby on your lap facing away from you. Use one arm to support your baby’s body with the palm of your hand flat against baby’s chest while your fingers gently support their chin and jaw, keeping your fingers away from their throat. Lean your baby slightly forwards and with your free hand, gently rub and pat their back.
Laying down - lay baby face down across your legs, at a right angle to your body. Keep their head slightly higher than their body and support their chin and jaw while you gently rub and pat their back.
what if my baby won’t burp?
Sometimes simply moving your baby will release those burps, but if you’ve tried all the positions, rubbed and patted and your baby won’t burp, let them lie on their back for a few minutes. Try gently massaging their tummy and moving their legs back and forth before trying again. Gentle rocking or walking around with your baby can get bubbles moving and maybe try talking or singing to your baby or giving them a warm bath to help them relax.
Sometimes wind can get so trapped that these methods won’t help and your baby just won’t burp. In this case you should talk to your health visitor, who will be able to advise you on the best thing to do.
when to stop burping your baby
There is no definitive age to stop burping your baby, but by between four and six months, your little one should be sucking more efficiently, and their digestive system will become more mature making burping less of a necessity.