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How to Burp a Baby

How to Burp a Baby

Burping basics to help you keep your baby comfortable.

Mastering the art of burping a baby can help keep your little one comfortable. Let’s explore some burping basics, including the best positions to burp your baby, tips for releasing those air bubbles, and answers to commonly asked questions.

Do You Burp A Newborn?

Yes, burping helps your baby release air they've ingested from feeding, crying, sucking on a pacifier, or even cooing. Air trapped in their belly can lead to pain and fussiness, so burping should be a part of your baby’s routine.

Best Positions To Burp A Baby

Each baby is unique, so finding the ideal burping position might require a bit of experimentation. Don't worry, though—with a little trial and error, you'll discover the best technique for you and your little one. Here are three common baby burping positions.

Sit Upright And Hold The Baby Against Your Chest

  • Hold your baby upright against your chest and shoulder, ensuring their bottom is supported.
  • Gently pat or rub their back to encourage the release of trapped air.

Hold The Baby Sitting Up In Your Lap Or On Your Knee

  • Sit your baby upright on your lap or knee.
  • Lean them slightly forward and support them with one hand.
  • Pat their back gently with your other hand.

Lay The Baby On Their Belly On Your Lap

  • Rest your baby face down across your lap, with their belly on one leg and head on the other.
  • Use one hand to rub or pat their back while you support them with the other hand.

Tips For Burping A Newborn

Here are some handy burping strategies that can promote comfort in your newborn during and after feeding times.

Switch Burping Positions

If one position is not working, try another. Each baby is different, and varying positions can help you find the most effective one. It's perfectly normal to need a little practice at first—you and your baby are learning together!

Always Keep A Burp Cloth Or Bib Handy

Be ready for those “wet burps.” Babies can spit up a little when burping, so be prepared with a cloth or bib to protect your clothes and clean up any mess.

Give A Gentle Pat On The Left Side Of Their Back

Gently tapping your baby's back on the left side can be particularly effective during burping, as this area is closer to their stomach.

Cup Your Hand

Burping your baby with a cupped hand tends to be gentler than using a flat palm, offering a softer touch for your little one.

How Do You Know When A Baby Needs To Be Burped?

You should routinely burp your baby during and after their meals. But watch for these cues that might mean your baby needs a bit more burping:

Baby Is Gassy

If your baby seems unusually fussy or is passing gas frequently, it might be an indication that they need to burp. Keep an eye out for these additional cues that your baby may need a little help releasing trapped air:

  • Crying and arching their back
  • Squirming after feeding
  • Red face
  • Pulling legs up toward their belly
  • Clenched fists
  • Bloated belly
  • Trouble sleeping

Baby Is Spitting Up A Lot

A baby may spit up more than usual when they have a gas buildup in their stomach. Spit-up—also called reflux—occurs when a tablespoon or two of breastmilk or infant formula flows out of a baby’s mouth and dribbles down their chin.

However, if your baby is spitting up excessively and experiencing some of the following concerns, reach out to your pediatrician. These may indicate a potential cow’s milk protein allergy, food sensitivity, or other health or feeding issue.

  • Colic: Defined as an otherwise healthy infant crying for over three hours per day, more than three days per week, for at least three weeks.
  • Skin reactions: Red, itchy rashes, swelling around the lips, face, and eyes, or the presence of eczema.
  • Digestive discomfort: Abdominal pain, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Respiratory issues: Sneezing, as well as an itchy, runny, or congested nose.

Baby Seems Fussy After Feeding

Babies with post-feeding fussiness might be experiencing gas. You may also notice a visibly bloated belly, or they may stop feeding sooner than usual.

Why Do You Have To Burp A Baby?

Burping is important as it helps your baby release the air they might have swallowed with their milk or formula. But feeding isn’t the only reason a baby may have gas. Babies can also ingest air while crying, giggling, or even when they suck on a pacifier or toy.

Air bubbles that become trapped in their belly can cause pain or fussiness until they are released through burping or naturally over time. Regular, gentle burping can help encourage those air bubbles to move up and out.

How Often Should You Burp A Baby?

Generally, you should burp your baby during feeding breaks and after they're done eating. Here are a couple of guidelines:

  • Breastfeeding: Pause about every five minutes to burp your little one, or burp them when you switch breasts.
  • Bottle feeding: It’s a good idea to burp your baby after every 2 or 3 ounces.

When Can You Stop Burping A Baby?

As babies grow and their digestive systems develop, they may not need to be burped as frequently. Many parents find that burping becomes less necessary after 4-6 months. Every baby is different, though, so timelines can vary. If you’re concerned about your baby’s gassiness at any time, contact your pediatrician.

What Do I Do If My Newborn Won’t Burp?

If your newborn won’t burp, you may want to try a few different strategies:

  • Experiment with changing the burping position.
  • Ensure you pat your baby's back with enough gentle pressure, using a cupped hand for a softer touch.
  • Alternate between patting and gently rubbing their back in a circular motion.
  • Take a short break and then try again after a couple of minutes. Sometimes, a little patience can make all the difference.
  • Try other gas-releasing techniques like bicycling their legs or tummy time, but wait about 20 minutes after feeding to avoid spit-up.

What Happens If You Don’t Burp A Baby?

If you don't burp a baby, the air trapped in the stomach from feeding might lead to discomfort, fussiness, and gas. In some cases, it may also contribute to spit-up or colic.

Explore Enfamil Family Beginnings® For More Tips And Resources

Burping your baby not only eases your little one’s tummy but also fosters comfort and bonding. With a bit of practice, you’ll soon be a pro! For more tips and resources on all things baby, be sure to join Enfamil Family Beginnings®. Enjoy up to $400 in savings, exclusive rewards, support, surprises, and a chance to win free formula for a year.

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All information on Enfamil, including but not limited to information about health, medical conditions, and nutrition, is intended for your general knowledge and is not a substitute for a healthcare professional's medical identification, advice, or management for specific medical conditions. You should seek medical care and consult your doctor or pediatrician for any specific health or nutrition issues. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment, care, or help because of information you have read on Enfamil.