how to burp a baby

One of the challenges you may face as a new mum may be learning how to burp a baby successfully. There's more myth than reality regarding the importance of the baby burp.

It's not as crucial as people say. Don't take us wrong, because helping your baby burp is an excellent way to release gas and air bubbles trapped in your child's little belly, but not all newborns are the same. Some may burp a lot by making no effort at all and others may struggle more, whereas a third group may not even do it a single time. It also depends on the way babies are fed: bottle-fed newborns tend to burp more than the breastfed ones, as bottles contain both milk and air (breasts, only milk) that, when swallowed during each feeding, can make the little one cranky. 

Remember that, at birth, newborns' stomachs are really small, so it's hard for them to host both food and air at the same time. That's why baby burping can be very beneficial, especially for those newborns that spit up too much or battle against symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), such as heartburn or acid indigestion. The burp can also be of help if your munchkin is suffering from baby colic

Are you eager to learn more about this issue, so that you have no doubts on how to burp a baby? Then, don't pass up the chance to read the upcoming lines.


How to burp a baby: When to do it 

Figuring out when to burp your baby is part of the issue. Most children let their parents know when they are not being comfortably fed by crying, pulling away and squirming. What you can do is take a 'burping break' when switching breasts or, in case you are formula feeding, when being halfway through a bottle. If your child seems to be pleased or falls asleep while being fed, don't even try burping him; it means everything's fine!


How to burp a baby 

There are a few ways to make your baby burp based on holding him in different positions. Give them a try and check if they do the trick:

  • On your chest: hold your little one against you, so that his chin rests on your shoulder, which you should cover with a cloth to protect it from spit-up. Use the other hand to gently rub or pat your child's back, which should help him belch.

  • On your shoulder: this time, hold your munchkin farther up on your shoulder, so that it presses gently on his belly (without keeping your baby from breathing well!). Use the other hand to pat his back.

  • Sitting on your lap: before starting this method, put a cloth over your lap to prevent any baby spit-up from making a mess. Then, sit your child on your lap, facing the same direction as yours. Support his body with one hand, and put the palm of the other one on the baby's chest, using your fingers to lightly support his chin. When you are ready, lean your child forward a little while rubbing or patting his back with the other hand.

  • Across your lap: this might be more of an awkward position, since you have to lay your baby on your legs, facing down and making sure to support his chin with one hand. That way, you'll keep his body straight, so that blood won't rush to the baby's head. Again, use the other hand to gently pat or rub his back.


How to burp a baby: What if he doesn’t do it? 

If you don't succeed in baby burping, don't feel guilty or lose hope. If you are feeding your baby in a more upright position, he may not have that much gas trapped in his belly. Another possibility is that your baby won’t burp because he's well-attached to the breast and no extra air gets into his stomach. If you notice that he's cranky during feedings, don't give in and put the methods listed above into practice. You can also talk to your paediatrician if you are getting worried about it.


How to burp a baby: What if he spits?

Don't be shocked if, when burping, your baby spits up, which is common until children reach six months of life. During or after feedings, your son or daughter may regurgitate a mouthful of breast milk or formula, and that doesn't necessarily mean that he or she is vomiting. What happens is that the intake of milk crashes into the noted bubble of trapped gas that, when it breaks, it pushes up portions of feeding.

If you are concerned about how much your baby spits up, consult it with your doctor. You may be asked to take a sample of the baby's spit-up with you, which you can do by placing a burp cloth from a feeding in a plastic bag and taking it with you to have it checked by the doctor.


Hopefully, now you know how to burp a baby. And in case you don't, there's no reason for you to get obsessed with it. When the time comes, you'll make it happen, unless your baby isn't in the mood for burps. After all, this is about getting to know your newborn and learning how to detect his needs.