When your little one is first born, they will need a lot of help. They need to be fed, their diapers need to be changed, and they need to be burped.
It may seem strange that babies can’t burp on their own, but their abilities aren’t quite developed enough to burp on their own. For a first-time parent, burping may seem a little intimidating. Babies can’t hold their heads up on their own until they’re around four months old.
Whether you’re an experienced parent, burping comes with its various challenges. Some babies tend to be more gassy. Others may need a lot of help before they can burp. Colicky babies usually have a terrible time with gas.
We may not be able to help you in a physical sense, but we can help you with a few tips and tricks that we’ve found to help with burping a gassy baby.
Why Do Newborns Need To Be Burped?
When babies are born, they are pretty inexperienced. They even need to learn how to eat. Although parts of it come naturally, some babies have difficulty latching properly at first, so it can take some practice. Some mothers may even need a nipple shield if they are breastfeeding.
Even bottle feeding can present its own challenges. The primary reason that a baby may need to be burped is that they swallow air while they are eating, which makes your little one gassy. Sometimes it might be because there’s air in the milk during bottle feeding, but it may also be because your baby is having issues with too much milk.
It’s like when people drink water or soda too fast. They gulp down everything at once, which can be too much for them to swallow at once, and start to form air bubbles. If your baby has colic, which means they cry for three or more hours per day without stopping, they may have air in their stomach because they swallow it as they are crying.
Basically, burping your baby helps them get rid of the gas in their stomachs. Gas bubbles are uncomfortable for your baby, so they get cranky and upset.
How Often Do They Need To Be Burped?
You’re probably wondering how often you will need to burp your baby. Generally, it’s best to burp your baby after every feeding, but some babies may need to be burped more often. It depends on their needs, so it’s important to understand the signs of a gassy baby.
Some babies may need to be burped in the middle of their feeding. If this is a common occurrence, a breastfed baby may need to be burped every time you switch breasts, while a bottle-fed baby might need to be burped after every two to three ounces of formula.
Another method is to burp a bottle-fed baby after every ounce of formula and a breastfed baby after every five minutes.
This can be extremely helpful if:
- Your baby has gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- They spit frequently
- They have a tendency to be gassy
Babies may even need to be burped when they haven’t eaten. If you notice that your baby is fussy and nothing else could be the cause, they might be gassy. If they wake up in the middle of the night and don’t need to be fed or have a diaper change, you may need to burp them before putting them back to bed.
What Are Signs That My Baby Needs To Burp?
The best way to know if your baby needs to be burped is to look out for the signs that they have trapped gas. One of the more obvious signs is fussiness, but babies also fuss because they are hungry or their diaper is dirty, so a fussy baby may not necessarily be a gassy baby.
Other signs of trapped gas include:
- Arched back
- Drawing legs back to the tummy
- Clenched fists
If your little one shows any of these signs, they could need to be burped.
Will I Need To Ask My Pediatrician About Anything?
Baby burps aren’t necessarily something that you need to talk to your baby’s healthcare provider about. However, if your little one has severe problems with gas or colic, you may want to ask your baby’s doctor about anti-gas drops. Most of the time, though, they aren’t needed. Your family’s doctor will know more about postpartum recovery, including body support wraps and more.
Tips for the Best Burps
Some days, burping your baby can be easy. On other days, it may take forever to get your little one to burp.
We have a few tips and burping techniques that can help your baby with gassiness.
Try Different Positions
There are three main burping methods: over the shoulder, sitting up, and face down. You may want to try each one to figure out what you are more comfortable with, but it’s good to become familiar with all three. If your baby won’t burp after a few minutes but they are still fussing, you may need to try different burping positions.
Over the Shoulder
This burping position is usually the most effective. To burp this way, you’ll want to hold your baby firmly against your shoulder and chest. Your baby’s chin should be resting on top of your shoulder. You’ll support their bottom with one hand. With your free hand, you can pat and rub their back to try to get those burps and hiccups out.
Sitting your baby upright on your lap is a common burping practice. With this position, you can sit your baby on your lap, lean them slightly forward, and support them by placing your hand or arm on their chest. You’ll want to hold them in such a way that their head can’t flop to the side or backward since a newborn baby can’t hold up their head yet. (Both moms and babies might have some physical limitations after the big day.)
Like the previous burping position, to burp your baby, pat and rub their back to help get that gas out.
This burping method can actually help soothe colicky babies. All you need to do is lay your baby’s tummy down on one leg and let their head rest on the other. Then you’ll want to pat and rub your baby’s back to burp them.
When you pat your baby’s back, your first instinct might be to pat with a flat hand but cupping your hand is usually better. It’s gentler, so your little one won’t get more upset while you’re trying to burp them.
The Power of the Burping Cloths
Sometimes, your baby might have a wet burp or spit up. This is perfectly normal. It might mean that they’re too full or that their burp came up before all their food was in their stomach. If it’s vomit, your baby will usually get more upset rather than calm down.
Spit-up tends to be pretty messy. It can stain clothes, so it’s important to protect yourself from these wet burps. Most parents will recommend having burping cloths on hand. If you’re using the over-the-shoulder method, you can lay a burping cloth on your shoulder.
It may also be good to have it nearby when you use other methods. You could use it to cover your arm or hand if your baby is sitting upright. Another good idea is to put a bib on your little one to protect their clothes. Sometimes, babies burp and spit up unprompted, and a bib can also prevent drool from staining their clothes.
Although there are times when wet burps are unavoidable, you can prevent them from happening often. Holding your baby in an upright position for ten to 15 minutes after they are done eating can help the food settle in their stomachs and prevent spit-up. This practice can be especially helpful if your little one suffers from GERD.
Other Ways To Help a Gassy Baby
Sometimes, burping isn’t enough. Fortunately, there are other methods that you can use to help your baby get rid of gas. You can gently massage your little one’s belly or lay them on their back and bicycle their legs. You can also gently push their legs towards their stomach so that their knees are bent and almost touching their tummies and then slowly release.
These practices will usually cause your baby to fart, which helps release some of the gas in their bellies.
Keeping Your Baby Happy
Feeling excess air in your stomach isn’t fun. That’s why it’s important to burp your baby after every feeding or when they show signs of gassiness. They haven’t developed the ability to get rid of excess air themselves, so they need Mom and Dad to help them.
Fortunately, you won’t need to burp your baby forever. As they get older, they’ll get more experienced in eating, which means that they’ll swallow less air, preventing gas. Burping your baby is a relatively easy task and just another way to help your little one out.
At Mommy Car Kit, we understand the importance of having a happy baby and learning how to burp your baby can help you soothe your little one and relieve their discomfort.
Baby basics: How to burp your baby | UNICEF Parenting
Burping Your Baby (for Parents) | Nemours KidsHealth
Wind, burping & newborn babies in pictures | Raising Children Network