Baby Burping 101

Posted by Nadira Kharmai-Freed on

Is burping after feeding really important? What, exactly, is burping and why does it need to happen? We'll uncover the basics in this blog post!

It's almost universal knowledge: A baby must be burped after he/she is fed. But you may be asking "Why?" and "How?" for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you're a new parent, a curious caregiver, or are just plain interested in learning why this healthy habit must be practiced.

Why Babies Need to Be Burped After They're Fed
Burping relieves gas from a baby's esophagus and/or stomach. Here are three common ways that babies accumulate gas in their bellies.

1. Through Nursing. 
When babies are fed formula or breast milk, they swallow a lot of air. That air, or gas, ends up sitting in their esophagus.

2. During Digestion
When bacteria breaks down certain foods in the large intestine, it can naturally create gas. This food can be something that the baby consumes or from the mother who passes it down from her breast milk. According to the National Institutes of Health, foods that contain carbohydrates are more likely to cause gas. Common offenders are beans, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, and of course soda and other carbonated beverages. 

3. From Allergic Reactions
If a baby has an intolerance to certain foods from his/her mother's diet or to a type of formula, his/her body may react by creating more gas. Dairy intolerance is the most common culprit among infants.

Why Burping is Important

When you burp a baby, that action releases gas up the esophagus and out of the mouth. It alleviates discomfort! Think about the gas in your own body and how it feels to relieve it through a burp. Can you imagine a baby having that same tight and uncomfortable feeling? It's part of the reason babies become fussy during and after being fed. 

 

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When to Burp a Baby

If you bottle-feed: Pediatricians recommend you burp your child after he/she's finished 2 to 3 ounces or half of the formula, and again when they're done eating.

If you breastfeed: It's recommended to burp your baby if/when you switch breasts, and at again at the end. 

 A good rule of thumb is to burp regularly according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Even if your baby doesn't show discomfort or release any gas when you burp him/her, try to burp them regularly before they get to a fussy stage.

How to Burp a Baby

Be sure to get your burp cloths ready! You'll want to have them right underneath your baby's mouth to catch spit-up, dribble, etc. 

There are two common ways to burp a baby. Use whichever is more effective for your child.

1. Over your shoulder: Hold you baby over your shoulder with his/her mouth resting on your shoulder. They should be facing toward you. Support your baby with one arm and hand, and use the free hand to gently rub and tap your baby. 

2. Sitting on your lap: Sit your baby on your lap with the back of their head facing you. They should be slightly leaned forward and supported by your hand and arm. Use your free hand to gently rub and tap their back. 

With either position, be sure to support their head and neck. If the baby does not burp after 5 minutes, he/she may not need to burp. Children 3 months old and older may not need to be burped regularly since they're typically awake more, in strollers, infant seats, etc. 

Have a burping tip you'd like to share? Leave a comment below! Need to grab a set of burp cloths for yourself or a loved one? Click here.


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  • A good tip I read, burping can make reflux worse and cause more spit up. So I sat my girl up and she’d naturally burp. Or I’d rub her back. Many scolded me to bang her back hard, but once she burped naturally or with gentle coaxing if I kept at it she’d spit up lots! So remember, every baby is different. Burping was very important though to help prevent spitting up all she ate!

    amy88bats on

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