How to burp a baby

Updated Jul 13, 2022
How to burp a baby

Some babies need minimal help to burp! However, some need a little more support after feeding to bring up any air and avoid trapped gas and wind. There’s no “right” way to burp a baby and there are a few different techniques. Burping needs to feel comfortable; you and your baby may prefer one technique over another.

IN THIS ARTICLE

Why it’s important to burp a baby

Any steps to take when a baby is sleeping

How to know when it’s time to burp

Positions and techniques for burping a baby

4 tips and tricks to burping a baby

Burping a baby FAQ

Burping your baby is an important part of the feeding routine. Feeding and breathing simultaneously is difficult and babies can often ingest air. This air needs to make its way up and out (by burping) or through (by passing gas/wind/farting). If it doesn’t pass easily, it may become trapped, causing discomfort and pain.

Make sure you burp your baby after their last feed and before placing them down to sleep, even if they’ve fallen asleep in your arms. It’s much easier for the burp to come up if they're held upright with their head above their stomach. 

If you feed at night, always make time to burp after the feed and consider it part of the usual feeding routine. If you place your baby down and they start to show signs of discomfort like arching their back, clenching their fists, or crying, then pick them back up and try to burp them again. Have a muslin cloth on hand for any spit up, as you don’t want to change those night clothes!

The feed has finished: Generally, a few minutes spent burping your baby after every feed should do it. Some babies need a little longer to work the air back up, but like everything, it’s practice, getting to know your baby and what level of help they need from you. 

Discomfort: Stop for a burping break if they are showing discomfort during the feed. You may notice signs such as pulling away, squirming, or making funny faces.

You’ve got a gassy baby: If your baby is prone to gas pains or suffers from reflux then you may want to burp during the feed to allow for another opportunity to release air.

For all these techniques you’ll be supporting your baby’s head and neck while keeping their back straight. Always make sure you are holding their chin rather than their throat.  

Technique 1: Over your shoulder. Have your baby face you and then bring them towards you so their chin rests on your shoulder. Make sure their throat is clear. Pat or rub their back gently. Some caregivers find walking around or sitting in a rocking chair at the same time helps.

Technique 2: Sitting on your lap. Lean your baby gently forwards while they’re sitting on your lap. With one hand, support their chin and make sure you keep their throat clear. With the other hand, gently pat or rub their back. 

Technique 3: Lying across your lap. Lie your baby across your lap making sure there's no pressure on their throat. Use your other hand to gently rub or pat their back.  

It’s not a marathon! Just a few minutes of burping after each feed should do it. 

Have a muslin cloth on hand! It’s common for babies to spit up a little when being burped. This is very normal. 

If your baby doesn’t burp on the first attempt, try a different technique to see if that helps.

If your baby is very gassy, suffers from reflux or spits up a lot, you may choose to burp more often. Take regular breaks from feeding. For example, you may want to pause after every couple of ounces or when switching breasts. 

Burping a baby FAQ

Q: Is burping a baby necessary?

A:

Burping is a normal part of the feeding routine and will help to release air ingested whilst feeding. Making sure you set aside time to burp will help avoid the pain and discomfort associated with trapped gas. Some babies will need less support than others to bring up air.

Q: When can you stop burping a baby?

A:

As babies get older, feeding tends to become more efficient and they swallow less air. You may find that your baby doesn’t need such frequent burping after the first few months of age and you can probably stop around 4 - 6 months of age.

Q: When do you start burping a baby?

A:

You’ll need to burp your baby after every feed, from their first feed! Newborns can feel so fragile, go slowly and find a position that feels comfortable, safe, and secure for you both.

Q: When to give up on a burp attempt?

A:

If your baby appears happy and you’ve given them some time sitting up and burping then they may not have anything to bring up!

Q: Does farting count as burping a baby?

A:

Nope! It takes a while for those bubbles to work their way through the body and out that end! A fart is probably the release of air from an earlier feed or part of the normal digestive process.

Q: What are the effects of not burping a baby?

A:

Air may become trapped. Trapped gas can cause pain and discomfort. You may notice your baby starts to cry (almost suddenly). They may also arch their back, squirm and clench their fists.

Q: Is burping painful for babies?

A:

Actual burping itself can feel like more of a release and is likely to make your baby feel better rather than cause discomfort. When burping your baby you shouldn’t pat or rub so hard it causes any pain. Gentle rubbing or patting should be enough to do it. Cupping your hand is a little gentler than using a flat palm.

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Note: The content on this site is for informational purposes only and should not replace medical advice from your doctor, pediatrician, or medical professional. If you have questions or concerns, you should contact a medical professional.