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Burping Baby 101 - The Why, How, and When Your Newborn Should Be Burped

Burping baby, whether he is bottle fed or breast fed, should be considered a "must". It is a rare infant who does not need to be burped during and after feedings.

“It sometimes happens, even in the best of families, that a baby is born. This is not necessarily cause for alarm. The important thing is to keep your wits about you and borrow some money.”
--Elinor Goulding Smith

The "Why" of Burping Baby
We all swallow some air along with our food and beverages. The air that goes down wants to come up!

Understandably, drinking while in a reclining position makes it difficult to burp (go ahead, try it). Babies who don't get the opportunity to properly burp will often end up fussy (who wouldn't?) and will not consume enough (since air is taking up room in that little stomach).

A question that I often receive is, "Is it necessary to burp my newborn if he falls asleep while eating?" My simple answer is, "Yes". Here are the two reasons why it should be done even if it is inconvenient:

burping a newborn baby

  • You are not looking for a cat nap followed by an unhappy baby. Those air bubbles can only be ignored for so long. If they don't come out the top end, they may cause gas pains later on. Burping baby immediately after a meal will ensure he is comfortable and fed well enough.

  • You are looking to establish healthy sleep habits. Allowing your baby to become accustomed to falling asleep through feeding will very likely cause problems in the future. See Getting a Newborn to Sleep for more information and ideas on this.

The "When" of Burping Baby
A good standard for how often a baby should be burped is:

  • After each side, if breastfeeding
  • At the halfway point and when finished, if feeding formula
Some babies need burping more often than this, but that will be something you will discover through trial and error as you get to know your baby. (Just be prepared for that "error" part with a burp cloth, or it will most likely end up all over you!)

The "How" of Burping Baby
There are three basic positions that work well for burping a baby. With all of these, you will want to rub or pat your baby's back until you hear or feel a burp.

Be sure to have a burp cloth ready in the "landing" position (that is, wherever any spit-up may land). Spitting up is common, so be prepared for it! Experiment with the different positions to see what is comfortable and "produces" well.

  1. Position your baby with his chest to your chest - with his chin at your shoulder. Use one hand to hold his weight at his bottom, and the other hand to support his back while you pat or rub.

  2. Have your baby sit on your lap, leaning forward slightly. Support his head with your thumb and index finger cradling his chin. Use the other hand to pat or rub his back.

  3. Lay your baby crossways across your lap with one of your legs slightly elevated OR with his legs between yours so that he is at a slight incline. Make sure you keep a hand on him at all times to prevent him from falling. Rub or pat his back.

It's the craziest thing, and my family all laughs at me when they notice it...I always burp (quietly and very lady-like) when I am burping a baby! I think it must be the power of suggestion because I am never trying to do it. Anyway, it works for me! My babies have always been good burpers!

See Related Articles

Guide to Newborn Sleeping

Dad's Corner - Newborn Baby Care, A Man's Perspective

Feeding Newborns - Starting Off Right

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