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How to Burp a Baby

Seeing a baby’s eyes beaming with satisfaction as they softly suckle can fill you with euphoria. This is nature’s way of ensuring you fall in love with these little angels as you feed them to satisfaction. However, this also means you risk overfeeding them, especially when bottle-feeding them organic formula or breast milk. Because they won’t tell you once they’ve had enough, and they certainly won’t tell you they need to burp. So for a baby that’s not burping, it’s your prerogative as the parent or caregiver to ensure that the baby burps every time after a meal. If not well executed this can cause discomfort and potential issues.

Let’s walk you over several tips on how to burp a newborn and what to do if the baby doesn’t. Also, remember that the baby doesn’t have to burp as long as you’ve fed them properly and minimized gas during feeding.

Why Burp a Baby After Meals?

Most adults have had the experience that after drinking a liquid, they sometimes had to burp. This is because we swallow air as we drink, and the stomach reacts by pushing the gas out. Well, it’s the same for newborns, only that they can’t stand up and burp naturally. So when they drink breast milk or Premium EU Formula milk and continue lying down, they’re more likely to experience discomfort, abdominal pains, and, much worse, develop GERD, which is caused by bile and stomach acid flowing back to the mouth continuously leading to discomfort.

Furthermore, feeding babies on bottles increases the propensity for stomach gas. So if you’re feeding your baby with formula milk, make sure it’s a premium formula manufactured in Europe like this HiPP Anti Reflux Formula or HiPP Comfort designed to reduce gas. These specialty baby formulas contains no corn syrup, zero chemicals, and is GMO-free. Furthermore, they adhere to the strictest European standards on baby formula.

Advantages of burping a baby

1. Helps the baby sleep soundly
The feeling of a bloated stomach can be too much for a baby. This prevents the baby from going into a deep sleep as they constantly move around, trying to find a comfortable position. You can avoid this by burping them a few minutes after a meal to get rid of the extra gas.

2. Reduces chances of overfeeding
Feeding your baby non-stop without breaks in between to burp them can lead to overfeeding. When you pause a few minutes during feeding to burp them, it gives you a sense of how much they’ve had to drink before continuing. A win-win situation.

3. Minimizes abdominal discomfort
Stomach gas can lead to abdominal pain. If you don’t burp your baby regularly during meals, you risk dealing with a colic baby due to the extra gas. And babies whose digestive tract may not be fully developed may have problems burping by themselves, hence the need for a helping hand.

4. Reduces chances of developing GERD.
GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease, develops when stomach acid repeatedly flows up to the mouth. When you don’t burp your baby, the gas in the stomach may push this acid up, leading to this reflux.

Tips on How to Burp a Baby

There are several ways to burp a baby. Each method depends on various factors, such as the baby's size, age, and feeding position. Keep in mind that it’s entirely possible to burp a baby while they’re asleep. The second method is the best way to burp a baby while sleeping.

1. Holding the baby’s head on your shoulder

  • Before burping your baby, you may want to be in a comfortable position, as it may take a few minutes.
  • Lift your baby and hold them on your chest as the head rests on your shoulder, with one hand on its butt.
  • Gently use your other hand to rub or pat the baby’s back while gently rocking them.
  • Do this for a few minutes until you hear a burp from the baby.
  • You can rest on a slightly slanted chair so the baby is slightly slanted upwards to fasten the process. This makes it easy for air bubbles to appear on the surface and out through the mouth.

2. Holding the baby on your chest

  • While seated, gently hold the baby on your chest without stretching the legs out. This allows the baby to continue sleeping.
  • Your baby’s head should be facing sideways while his chest rests on yours.
  • With one hand on the baby's lower body, use the other hand to gently rub or pat the baby’s back until they burp.
  • Keep in mind that they may spit while burping, and that’s entirely normal. In fact, it’s a good thing, especially if the baby was overfed

3. Holding the baby on your lap

  • Another effective way to burp a baby is placing them on your lap while sitting.
  • The baby’s belly should be resting on your thighs.
  • Use one hand to hold the baby’s head upright and slant it upwards slightly.
  • With the other free hand, gently rub or pat the baby’s back until it burps.

4. Holding the baby on your forearm

  • For this position, it’s best performed sitting on a sofa for a soft landing in case of anything.
  • Place the little munchkin on your forearm, with the belly firmly on the forearm and your palm holding it’s the chin. NB. keep the chin and not the throat to avoid suffocation.
  • The arm should run through the middle of the baby’s legs.
  • Slightly slant the baby forward.
  • Gently rub or pat the baby's back with your other arm. 

What To Do If Baby Won’t Burp

It’s perfectly healthy for a baby not to burp. However, should you see signs of excess gas in a baby despite your burping efforts, then you should consider the following steps.

  • Lay the newborn down on its back for a few minutes. Lift them again and try to burp them using the above burping techniques. Laying them down allows for the gas bubbles in the stomach to come up and get released.
  • If you have rubbed their back consistently for a few minutes and they didn’t burp, continue holding them upright. It’s a good idea to use a baby sling for support. Slant them forward slightly to allow for gas to come up. 
  • If the baby doesn’t burp still, it probably means there’s not much gas in the stomach, and the baby was fed well without swallowing any air.

Also, you can take specific steps to minimize stomach gas, such as feeding them specialty baby formula designed to reduce gassiness, and helping with lactose-related colic and constipation while fulfilling your baby's nutritional requirements.

However, you can continue repeating the burping methods mentioned above if you see the following signs of gas:

  • Pulling their legs up to their chest
  • Arching their back
  • Clenching fists
  • Squirming
  • Not sleeping
  • Appearing restless

As your baby gets older, it’ll burp less and less. This is because they begin to feed appropriately without swallowing too much air. It’s also a good idea to burp your baby every 2-3 ounces of formula or every time you switch breasts during feeding.

To Recap

Burping a baby is an essential part of feeding them. Not well-executed burping techniques can lead to nausea, regurgitation, gastro-esophageal reflux, or even choking. Ensuring you pause in between the meals to burp them minimizes the risk of overfeeding them. Also, understand that a baby won’t always burp despite your efforts and it’s okay to pause and observe for any signs of gas.

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