Melinda Winterscheid, M.D.
While it might not be the most glamorous of tasks, burping your baby is important for his or her comfort. When babies are feeding, they take in air, which can build up and make them uncomfortable, causing you to find yourself with a fussy, squirmy child.
How much a baby needs to burp will vary from baby to baby. If you're burping a newborn after breastfeeding, the baby will typically burp less because they swallow less air. Most babies will outgrow the need to be burped by 4-6 months of age.
You can often tell that a baby needs to be burped if he or she is squirmy or pulling away while being fed. This being said, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents try to burp their baby:
Pausing to burp frequently slows feeding and reduces air intake. However, if your baby has not successfully burped after a few minutes of trying, switch methods or give up and continue with the feeding. It is possible that your baby doesn’t actually have to burp. The best method for burping will generally differ for babies and parents – use the method that works best for you.
There are three popular methods for burping newborns and babies. All will require a burping cloth to protect from spit up or wet burps and a gentle patting motion across a baby’s back to coax out the burp. The main difference is how the baby is held. Take care to support the baby’s head and neck safely and move the baby slowly and gently.
More information about feeding and burping your newborn:
When to be Concerned About Spit Up
Feeding Your Newborn
Why Babies Spit Up
Breastfeeding vs. Formula
Is My Baby Eating Enough?