How to burp a baby: Signs a newborn needs to burp

Updated Oct 23, 2023
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.


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

What if my baby won't burp after feeding?


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 swallow 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 or burping cloth on hand for any spit up, as you don’t want to change those night clothes!

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 takes practice, getting to know your baby and what level of help they need from you.

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.  

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.

Newborn burping positions: over the shoulder

Lean your baby gently forwards (leaning slightly) while they’re sitting on your lap. With one free hand, support their chin and make sure you keep their throat clear. With the other free hand, gently pat or rub their back. 

Newborn burping positions: Sitting on your lap

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

Newborn burping positions: Lying across lap

Here are a few burping newborn tips you can try:

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

Have a muslin cloth or burp 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.

If your baby won't burp after feeding, there are a few steps you can take to address the situation:

Try different techniques: Keep in mind that every baby is different. If one burping technique isn't working, consider trying another one that is listed above!

Be patient: Some babies may take longer to burp than others. It's important to be patient and give your baby the time they need.

Check for discomfort: If your baby seems uncomfortable or fussy after a feed, they might still have trapped air that needs to be released. Your little one might benefit from additional burping attempts.

While there's no "right" way to burp a baby, finding a technique that works best for you and your little one is key. Be attentive to your baby's cues, and don't hesitate to seek advice from a healthcare professional if you have concerns.

  • Burping a baby is important to release swallowed air and prevent discomfort.

  • Burp your baby after each feeding, especially before sleep, to aid in digestion.

  • Signs to burp include finishing a feed, baby's discomfort, and gassiness.

  • Techniques for burping include over-the-shoulder, sitting on your lap, and lying across your lap.

  • Tips include burping for a few minutes, having a cloth for spit-up, trying different techniques, and burping more often for gassy or reflux-prone babies.

Burping a baby FAQ

Q: Is burping a baby necessary?


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?


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?


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?


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?


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?


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?


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.

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.