Getting your new baby to burp can be incredibly frustrating, especially at night, so here's a quick post about how to burp a baby with a few lesser known tips and tricks from us too. We hope you find it useful
Do you need to burp a newborn?
Yes. Burping is an important part of feeding. Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, babies will inevitably swallow some air which gets trapped in their stomach and causes discomfort. A burp is the release of these gas bubbles up the oesophagus (gas can also be released from the other end too!). Some burps (‘wet burps’) bring up a little of the stomach contents (‘spit up’) so you will need a muslin square to hand. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. Projectile vomiting however is not. If your baby is violently vomiting after feeding you should talk with your paediatrician or doctor to check for other causes.
Contrary to popular belief you don’t need to spend hours burping your baby, a couple of minutes will suffice for most.
Why do babies burp?
Babies can get gas for a number of reasons;
Swallowing air when feeding
Digestion – the breakdown of certain food in the large intestine can naturally create gas. This includes the food that baby consumes but also the food that mum consumes if she is breastfeeding.
Food intolerance or allergic reactions – babies can be intolerant to certain foods in mum’s diet or a particular type of formula which causes the body to react by creating more gas.
When should I burp my newborn?
You can burp your baby at any time during feeding, or after feeding. If they look uncomfortable (squirming, crying, arched back, clenched fists, drawing legs into their tummy) during feeding take a break and burp them, if they seem happy then the NHS suggest you wait and burp them at the end of the feed.
Try to break for burping during baby’s natural pauses, for example when switching breasts or when feeding slows. Disrupting a hungry baby for burping will cause frustration and likely make them swallow more air
How do you get a newborn to burp?
There are three commonly used methods for burping baby. If your baby is newborn make sure to support their head and neck. We have also added a few lesser known tricks and tips to the bottom of this page
Over your shoulder - place a muslin square over your shoulder and hold your baby to you in the hug position with their chin resting on your shoulder. Gently rub and pat their back
Sitting on your lap - sit down with your baby facing outwards sideways on your lap. Place the palm of one hand against your baby’s chest and support their chin and jaw, lean them forwards slightly and gently rub and pat their back with your other hand
Lying across your lap - lie baby face down across your lap with their head slightly higher than the rest of the body (making sure to support their chin) and gently rub and pat your baby’s back
Keeping baby in a slight upright position will help release gas.
What if baby doesn’t burp and falls asleep?
You can still burp your baby when they are asleep. Try one of the above burping techniques even when they are asleep and then place them down to sleep on their back
What if baby doesn’t burp?
Some babies seem to find it easier to burp than others. If you feel your baby needs a burp but you can’t make them burp – take a look at some of the suggested tips and tricks below. You may also want to try keeping them upright for 10-15 minutes after feeding (some babies with bad reflux may need to stay upright for as long as 30 mins). If your baby is regularly uncomfortable due to gas you should talk to your paediatrician, health visitor or midwife, they may suggest looking at your diet/formula or over the counter meds and gripe water. It is always best to talk with a medical professional before experimenting with changes yourself
Tricks for burping a newborn
Walking around when burping can help to release gas, you can also add a little bump to your walk and put baby in a sling
Putting your baby down on their back for a few minutes between burping can help to dislodge gas
Lie baby on their back and gently massage their tummy in a clockwise motion
Lie baby on their back and gently move their legs in a bicycle movement
Place baby securely over your arm in a face down position and rub their back, this is known as the ‘gas hold’
Place baby in the ‘sitting on your lap’ position mentioned above, with baby’s bottom on your lap and chin supported make small circular motions with the top of their body (making sure to keep their back and oesophagus straight and the chin supported)
Sit baby on your lap whilst you are seated with their back against your tummy, almost as if they are using you as a chair. Gently take your left heel off the ground and then lower it, then your right heel, then your left heel and so on to create a soft rocking motion
Tips for burping a newborn
Shaking a bottle of formula before feeding can add lots of extra air bubbles to the fluid. Try using premixed formula or letting the bottle settle a little before feeding
If you are breastfeeding, ask for help from a lactation consultant or your midwife to check the latch and positioning
Try an upright or semi-upright breastfeeding position, it may be easier for baby to control milk flow if it’s not already travelling downwards with gravity. This will mean less air intake
If you are bottle feeding make sure you are using the age appropriate nipple flow. A nipple flow that releases milk to quickly (or too slowly) may mean baby swallows more air
If you are bottle feeding, try a different style of bottle. Some bottles are specifically designed to reduce the amount of air bubbles present in baby’s milk
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