How to Make a Baby Burp: A Guide to Parents
by MedPlus Team, February 11, 2021
Burping or belching is a natural response from the stomach that occurs as a result of the gas accumulation inside us – the gas that enters the body while eating. When not released, this trapped air can cause discomfort in the body. If you are a new parent and wondering “how to make my baby burp?”, you are in the right place. Since babies don’t naturally or voluntarily do this, the intervention of parents to help the baby burping becomes crucial.
Why burping your baby is important?
As babies breastfeed or suck from a bottle, it often happens that the baby sucks in the air along with the food/milk, which may get trapped inside and cause discomfort. This in turn can make the baby fussy and irritated. The act of breastfeeding/feeding from the bottle has a calming effect on the baby which makes it fall asleep quickly. So the unwanted air stuck in the body through this feeding process, might cause great discomfort and keep the baby from sleeping peacefully – which you don’t want. Hence, it is important that your baby burps.
How do I make my baby burp?
To burp a baby, the primary step is to ensure they should be in a slightly upright position so you can put pressure on their tummy. Being horizontal on the bed/floor restricts this movement of gas passage and becomes a hindrance.
1. Burp between changing sides, or mid-bottle
Burp your baby between switching sides at the breast or before they finish their bottle. This will also help your baby make room for more milk instead of burping and spitting up any of their food.
2. Hold on to your shoulder
If you feed your baby in a semi-upright position, you can gently move them all the way upright and onto your shoulder. The pressure from your shoulder pushes on their tummy to release gas. Keep a burp rag over your shoulder if your baby tends to spit up.
3. Hold lower on your chest
You can lift your baby from semi-upright to fully upright and keep them on your chest or sternum area. You can support their head and wait for the burp to come.
4. Rock on your arm (“sloth hold’)
After feeding, you can slowly turn them away from you at 45 degrees so their tummy rests on your forearm. Support their head in the crook of your elbow. Their legs may dangle on either side of your arm. This position puts pressure on their belly and you can gently pat their back until they burp. You can do this position while sitting or standing.
5. Lay on your knees
If you’re sitting in a chair, simply move your baby to a laying position on their tummy on your knees. You can move your legs side to side to rock them and gently pat or rub their back until a burp comes.
6. Sitting on Your Lap
Place your baby sideways on your lap, with their chest leaning slightly forward. Position your hand under their chin (not their throat) to support their chest and head. Pat their back across the shoulder blades to burp them.
How to burp a sleeping baby?
Burping a sleeping baby is basically the same as burping a baby who’s awake. You might move slower to help them stay asleep. Some burping positions are a bit easier to manoeuvre with a sleeping baby.
How long does burping take?
It takes somewhere between a minute or two to get the baby burping. It may happen spontaneously while sitting the baby upright. Other times, you have to wait for a little, and helps things with a gentle pat or putting light pressure on the tummy.
Another way to ease things up is to get your baby in the habit of falling asleep in their crib rather than while feeding. When you notice them getting sleepy at the breast or bottle, stop the feeding, burp them for a minute or so, and then put them down to sleep. The younger you start this, the easier it is to do.
If your baby is often stiff and uncomfortable, talk with their doctor about more help for relieving gas. Some babies with bad reflux may need to stay upright for 30 minutes after eating, day or night.
What to do if your baby doesn’t burp?
If your baby is asleep, try burping them for a minute before you lay them back down. Sometimes babies don’t need to burp as much at night time because they eat slower and don’t get as much air while feeding. If they wake up crying, soothe them, check to see if they need a clean diaper, feed them again if it’s time, and try to burp them after that feeding.
Tips for preventing excess gas in babies
The best way to help prevent excess gas in a baby is to try to prevent them from swallowing too much air. Swallowing air is often the result of the baby eating too quickly.
1) Use a slow flow nipple on bottles, especially for newborns. Fast flow nipples may cause the baby to swallow more air.
2) Angle the bottle so that air is not getting into the milk or formula while feeding. Doing this usually means tipping the bottle upward at an angle and keeping it tipped as the baby finishes the bottle.
3)Test the flow of a bottle’s nipple before giving it to the baby. Tip it upside down and allow a few drops to come out. If the liquid comes out quickly, the nipple may have become worn out.
4)Replace bottle nipples if the hole gets bigger, or the nipple shows signs of wear.
When breastfeeding, follow these tips to help prevent gas in the baby
1) Watch for signs of a fast let down of milk from the breast. If the milk comes out too quickly at the beginning, and the baby is gulping or gasping, take the baby off the breast for a few seconds. Catch the excess milk in a towel or cloth if necessary. Once the milk flow has slowed down, put the baby back on the breast.
2) Experiment with different breastfeeding positions. Different babies and women find that certain positions allow them both to breastfeed comfortably. It may help to ask a lactation consultant for tips.
3) Make sure that the baby has latched on correctly. The baby’s lips should be sealed and spread out around the nipple. Their lips should not turn inward.
Hope this article helped you. Most babies eventually learn to do it themselves as they grow up. Unless there is a pre-existing problem of colic or gas in your baby, there is no cause for concern here.