Burping Your Baby
An important part of feeding a baby is burping. Burping helps to get rid of some of the air that babies tend to swallow during feeding. Not being burped often and swallowing too much air can make a baby spit up, or seem cranky or gassy.
How to Burp Your Baby
When burping your baby, repeated gentle patting on your baby's back should do the trick. Cup your hand while patting — this is gentler on the baby than a flat palm.
To prevent messy cleanups when your baby spits up or has a "wet burp," you might want to place a towel or bib under your baby's chin or on your shoulder.
Try different positions for burping that are comfortable for you and your baby. Many parents use one of these three methods:
- Sit upright and hold your baby against your chest. Your baby's chin should rest on your shoulder as you support the baby with one hand. With the other hand, gently pat your baby's back. Sitting in a rocking chair and gently rocking with your baby while you do this may also help.
- Hold your baby sitting up, in your lap or across your knee. Support your baby's chest and head with one hand by cradling your baby's chin in the palm of your hand. Rest the heel of your hand on your baby's chest, but be careful to grip your baby's chin, not the throat. Use the other hand to pat your baby's back.
- Lay your baby on your lap on his or her belly. Support your baby's head and make sure it's higher than his or her chest. Gently pat your baby's back.
If your baby seems fussy while feeding, stop the session, burp your baby, and then begin feeding again. Try burping your baby every 2 to 3 ounces (60 to 90 milliliters) if you bottle-feed and each time you switch breasts if you breastfeed.
Try burping your baby every ounce during bottle-feeding or every 5 minutes during breastfeeding if your baby:
- tends to be gassy
- spits a lot
- has gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- seems fussy during feeding
If your baby doesn't burp after a few minutes, change the baby's position and try burping for another few minutes before feeding again. Always burp your baby when feeding time is over.
To help prevent the milk from coming back up, keep your baby upright after feeding for 10 to 15 minutes, or longer if your baby spits up or has GERD. But don't worry if your baby spits sometimes. It's probably more unpleasant for you than it is for your baby.
Sometimes your baby may awaken because of gas. Picking your little one up to burp might put him or her back to sleep. As your baby gets older, don't worry if your child doesn't burp during or after every feeding. Usually, it means that your baby has learned to eat without swallowing excess air.
Babies with colic (3 or more hours a day of continued crying) might have gas from swallowing too much air during crying spells, which can make the baby even more uncomfortable. Using anti-gas drops has not proven to be an effective way to treat colic or gas, and some of these medicines can be dangerous.