When gas gets trapped in your baby's stomach, it can cause a feeling of fullness as well as a lot of discomfort. You may notice that your little one gets fussy during or after feedings; this may be as a result of swallowing air as they feed, which results in making him/her gassy. Burping your baby is an important part of a baby’s feeding routine to release any trapped air that may cause discomfort. Read on to find out how you can burp your little one.
Why should you burp your little one?
Burping is an important part of the feeding routine because when feeding, babies tend to inadvertently swallow bubbles of air along with the breast milk or baby formula. These air bubbles get trapped in your little one's tummy, which can make her feel uncomfortable and full before he's gotten his fill. That's why winding or burping your baby during or after feeds to bring up any accumulated air is crucial.
Taking in air while feeding tends to happen more often with bottle-fed babies as they tend to eat faster, but breastfed tots swallow quite a bit of air as well, especially if you have a lot of milk or a fast letdown, or if your little one is very hungry and wants to eat as fast as possible.
How often should you burp your baby?
How often you burp your little one depends on the type of feeding:
- If you bottle-feed, you want to burp your baby between every 2 or 3 ounces. You want to burp your newborn after they finish feeding too.
- If you’re breastfeeding, burp your baby before switching breasts. If your newborn manages only one breast at a time, consider burping mid-feed on the same breast.
When to burp your baby?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends burping your baby even if they don’t fuss or release any gas when you burp them. While some babies may need to be burped more frequently, a lot of parents make the mistake of interrupting feedings with attempts at burping. This is completely unnecessary as it prolongs the feeding time, which in turn frustrates a hungry baby and causes them to swallow more air.
As a general rule of thumb, if you notice that your baby seems restless or unsettled during a feed, it might be time to burp. If your baby happily feeds without incident, it may be worth waiting until he finishes before burping him. Signs of excessive trapped air include:
- Clenching fists
- Arching of the back
- Pulling of legs up towards the tummy
How to burp a baby
There are three basic burping positions: over the shoulder, face-down on your lap, or sitting on your lap. It’s worth trying all three positions to see what’s the most comfortable and effective for getting your little one to burp. Whichever burping method you choose, though, make sure you have a blanket or burp cloth to catch any spit-up.
1. Over your shoulder
Sit or stand comfortably, and hold your baby against your chest with his chin on your shoulder, resting on a soft cloth to absorb any spit-up that may result. Support his bottom with one hand and use the other to rub or pat his back.
2. Face-down on your lap
Place your baby face-down across your lap. His stomach should be on one of your legs and his head on the other, with his head supported and slightly raised above his chest. Use one hand to hold your little one in place, and rub or pat her back with the other hand.
3. Sitting on your lap
Hold your baby in a seated position on your lap facing away from you and leaning slightly forward. Support his chest and head with one arm and use your other arm to gently rub or pat his back.
What to do if your baby doesn’t burp?
Some babies don't swallow a lot of air, so they simply don't burp as frequently as others. Other babies pass gas frequently, so they don't need to burp as often as the average infant. If your baby doesn't burp as often as you expect and doesn't show any signs of gas pains, you don't need to be concerned if he doesn't burp.
On the other hand, if you’ve tried burping your little one but he is still exhibiting signs of discomfort, you could try laying him on a safe, flat surface and gently massaging his tummy in small circular, clockwise motions. If this doesn’t do the trick, try moving your baby’s legs back and forth, as if he’s riding a bicycle. Allowing your baby to lie down on his stomach while he is awake can also help.
Another solution involves investigating the cause of the gas buildup. For instance, if you’re nursing, some of the foods in your diet could be the cause of your baby’s discomfort. The most common culprits for gassiness in babies are dairy products – milk, ice cream, cheese, and so on.
Other solutions that might suit your needs include letting a bottle of formula settle before feeding your baby and choosing an age-appropriate nipple. You can also switch to a bottle that is designed to decrease the amount of air that gets trapped in the bottle.
If these solutions don’t work, talk to your pediatrician or child specialist for further advice.
When should you stop burping your baby?
There is no definitive age you are required to stop burping your little one, but as your baby gets older and their digestive system gains more functionality, burping becomes less of a necessity. This change will likely take place at around 4 to 6 months when your baby starts to eat solid food. That said, if your baby still shows signs of being gassy, continue with burping until you feel it isn't necessary.
It may take a bit of time for you to get the hang of burping your baby, but within a bit of practice, you’ll soon settle into a consistent feeding and burping routine that works best for you and your little one. In no time, those burp breaks will become like second nature, and there’ll be fewer tummy aches for you to worry about!