Your mother was right. There was no official manual handed to you after your baby was born. Who would have thought that learning how to burp a baby could be so complicated for many parents!
You’ve probably had to rely on your Mom’s advice more times than you expected. Whether it’s learning how to change a diaper properly (didn’t it seem so easy in the movies?) or trying to soothe your crying baby—a task which can seem on par with rocket science—parenthood is full of unexpected frustrations.
Few parents seem to innately know how to burp a baby on their own. It’s not your fault though if you don’t know how to safely and effectively burp your baby. There are many circumstances which are unique to you and your child. That we know 100%. It’s easy to get frustrated comparing your situation to other parents thinking “they have it all perfect”. In reality each parent has their own special set of challenges, many of which we don’t see because they are happening behind closed doors.
Knowing how to burp a baby effectively and safely isn’t exactly what you’d call a highly refined art. And it’s not a science, either. It’s simply a natural extension of your love; one which nurtures and reassures your newborn when they can’t quite communicate their own frustrations.
It’s natural and expected for babies to swallow air during feeding. In fact, it would be a cause for concern if they didn’t. But it can lead to fussiness, crankiness and one messy baby.
The right way to burp a baby is whatever brings them instant relief. Even when you’re burping a sleeping baby. But there are some methods that are more efficient than others. If you’ve ever been perplexed about how to burp a baby safely, here are five approved methods that have stood the test of time even before your mother was in a high chair.
1. Burp Your Baby By Rearranging Your Baby On Your Chest
Sitting upright, hold your baby so that their chin rests upon your shoulders. With your other hand, gently pat them on the back and reassure them by circular motions with the palm of your hands. If they’re still fussy, rearrange them so their forehead rests comfortably anywhere from your shoulders to your sternum. This might seem like a question of trial and error, but it can help reassure your baby during burping time simply by the rhythm of your own heartbeat.
2. Sit Your Baby On Your Lap to Safely Burp Your Baby
Either on your lap or across your knees, try supporting their head and chest with one hand, resting its heel gently in your baby’s chest. Carefully cradle your baby’s chin with your palm and use the other to gently pat their back. Use the other hand to pat your baby’s back. Use particular caution not to grip their throat, since the slightest pressure could potentially damage their windpipe.
3. Hold Your Baby On Your Shoulder During the Burping Process
Keeping your baby upright can help comfort them to sleep while the pressure of your shoulder helps relieve them of excess stomach gas. This also allows you to coo and whisper softly in their ear for added reassurance. Just be careful. Babies in this position have a tendency to spit up as a result of burping, so you may want to keep a bib or several on hand just in case.
4. Rock Your Baby In Your Arms While Burping
Slowly turn your baby away from you so their belly is in your forearms and their head rests in the crook of your shoulders. This places a soft pressure on their stomachs and allows you to pat them gently and without any significant fussiness.
5. Burp While Feeding
Babies are eager to feed and they can frequently wind up swallowing too much air as a result. You can alleviate the discomfort of gas by burping your baby during their feeding. Simply burp when switching your breasts or when they pause their bottle. This can also help your baby make digest milk better instead of spitting up their food.
Bonus Tips On How to Burp a Baby Safely
- If you have a particularly fussy or gassy baby, try burping every five minutes during breastfeeding or after every ounce if you’re bottle feeding.
- Always burp your baby immediately after feeding time to release additional gas, even if you’ve already burped them during feeding.
- To prevent your baby from spitting up milk after feeding them, keep them upright for approximately 10-15 minutes.
- It’s fairly common for babies to awake with excess gas in the middle of the night. Burping a baby can frequently help them fall back asleep almost instantly.
- Burping a baby typically takes no longer than two or three minutes, but don’t be alarmed if it can take you in excess of five sometimes, particularly in cases of colic. If it regularly takes much longer or any of the above methods don’t help, speak with your pediatrician. Your baby may suffer from a reflux condition which can be alleviated by gentler over the counter and prescription medicines.