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Baby Burping

By 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.

When to Burp Your Baby

How much a baby needs to burp will vary from baby to baby. Typically babies who are breastfed will burp less, as they swallow less air; and 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:

  • When a nursing mother switches breasts or
  • Every 2-3 oz. if being bottle-fed (60 – 90 mL)

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.

 

Burping Methods

There are three popular methods for burping 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.

  • Leaning
    • Place a burping cloth or towel on your shoulder and/or back.
    • Rest your baby’s chin or belly on your shoulder. (If opting for the belly, make sure that your baby can breathe easily. Parents may benefit from trying this option after their baby has better head/neck control.)
    • Support and hold your baby in place with one hand, while using the other to gently pat your baby on the back.
  • Sitting
    • Place a burping cloth or towel across your lap and put a bib on your baby.
    • Using your palm to support your baby’s chest and your fingers to support his or her jaw (not throat), place your baby sitting on your lap, facing away from you.
    • With your free hand, gently pat your baby on the back.
  • Laying
    • Place a burping cloth or towel across your lap.
    • Lay your baby across your knees, perpendicular to your body.
    • Use one hand to support your baby’s head so that it is higher than the chest. This will prevent blood from rushing to the head.
    • With your free hand, gently pat your baby on the back.

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?