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Baby Burping

​​​​​​​​​​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. 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:

  • 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 m​inutes 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 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.

  • 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
Is My Baby Eating Enough?

  • ​Burping Your Baby

    Alexis L.. Sawyer, Boys Town Pediatrics

    Burping is mostly a comfort issue for your newborn or your baby.  When excess gas or air builds up in their stomach, they can be very uncomfortable.  They can cry more.  They can also have more reflux or spitting up, because that air takes up space and they don't have quite as much space for that milk to sit in the stomach. 

    We recommend if you're breastfeeding to burp in between breasts when you are offering them breasts for breastfeeding.  If you are bottle feeding actually about every one to two ounces is appropriate.     

    There are multiple different ways to burp a baby but the most important thing to keep in mind is you need to make sure you're supporting their head and neck when you're burping the baby.  Often times you'll see classically people burping their babies over the shoulder which is perfectly fine.  Put a burp rag over the shoulder, you kind of sling the baby over the shoulder but make sure that the head isn't hanging over the shoulder too far, and then patting until you feel or hear the release of gas and a burp.

    Another nice way to do it is in your lap with your baby sitting in your lap.  You also once again need to support them usually around the jaw area to help keep their head up and not slumped over.  You can sit them sideways and pat them on the back and it's a good way of being able to visualize your baby's face and whether or not they are spitting out what they are burping.

    You don't have to pat hard.  Sometimes people just actually rub the back.  That works as well so gently pat.  Patting or rubbing oftentimes will get the result that you want.

    Every baby is a little different, if they are still fussy after feeding after six months then I'd probably continue on with the burping but once babies get to hold themselves up right a little bit more than they are more likely to be able to relieve that gas on their own because they are able to move around more independently and then movement and being upright helps them release that gas. 

Newborn Pediatrics;Lactation Consultation