Feeding a baby is an exciting experience for many new parents. It can also be a little intimidating if you don’t know what to expect. Babies can get fussy or cranky during and after feedings if they’re not burped frequently.
A baby tends to swallow air when she feeds, which can get trapped in her belly making her feel uncomfortably full before she’s really finished feeding. That’s why burping is such an important aspect of feeding.
“Burping helps to release that gas and makes room for baby to finish her meal,” said Dr. Emma Raizman, a pediatrician at Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics in Medina. “Not burping a baby frequently can lead to spitting up, fussiness, gassiness and discomfort.”
When burping your baby, repeated gentle patting on your baby’s back should do the trick — there’s no need to pound hard. To prevent messy cleanups when your baby spits up or has a “wet burp,” you might want to place a towel or bib under your baby’s chin or on your shoulder.
Don’t worry if your baby spits sometimes. It’s probably more unpleasant for you than it is for your baby.
“Spitting up is normal and can happen for several reasons, such as swallowing too much air, or a sensitivity to a formula or something in mom’s diet,” said Dr. Raizman. “In most cases, parents shouldn’t worry. But, if your baby spits up frequently, talk to your pediatrician for possible causes and solutions.”
Try experimenting with different positions for burping that are comfortable for you and your baby.
Many parents prefer to use one of these 3 methods:
- Sit upright and hold your baby against your chest. Your baby’s chin should rest on your shoulder as you support the baby with one hand. With the other hand, gently pat your baby’s back. Sitting in a rocking chair and gently rocking with your baby while you do this may also help.
- Hold your baby sitting up in your lap or across your knee. Support your baby’s chest and head with one hand by cradling your baby’s chin in the palm of your hand and resting the heel of your hand on your baby’s chest (but be careful to grip your baby’s chin, not throat). Use the other hand to pat your baby’s back gently.
- Lay your baby on your lap on her belly. Support your baby’s head and make sure it’s higher than her chest. Gently pat your baby’s back.
If your baby seems fussy while feeding, stop the session, burp your baby and then begin feeding again. Try burping your baby every 2 to 3 ounces if you bottle-feed and each time you switch breasts if you breastfeed.
If your baby doesn’t burp after a few minutes, change the baby’s position and try burping for another few minutes before feeding again. Always burp your baby when feeding time is over.
For the first 6 months or so, keep your baby in an upright position for 10 to 15 minutes (or longer if your baby spits up often) after feeding to help prevent the milk from coming back up.
As your baby gets older, you shouldn’t worry if she doesn’t burp during or after every feeding.
“Most babies don’t need to be burped anymore by the time they reach 6 to 9 months,” said Dr. Raizman. “By then, they will start bringing up air by themselves without needing to be burped.”