Breastfed babies typically need less burping than formula-fed babies. In fact, some breastfed babies don't need burping at all. That's because when a baby drinks milk from their mother's breast, they can control the flow of milk and won't swallow as much air as a baby who is drinking out of a bottle.
However, in some cases, breastfed babies may still need to be burped often, especially if they are fast feeders or if their mother's milk flows very quickly.
Why do babies need to be burped after feeding?
When a baby eats, it's common for them to swallow a significant amount of air. The air then travels to the stomach where it creates air bubbles, filling the baby's abdomen. These air bubbles are likely to make the little one uncomfortable and give a feeling of fullness even if they haven't finished their meal.
As your baby remains hungry but feels uncomfortably full, they can become fussy and irritable. Burping your baby to release air is therefore a regular part of mealtime and an essential job in early parenthood. Since your baby doesn't have much control over their bodies, they may need your help releasing gas.
Each baby is different, however, and some babies may not need frequent burping. Others may need it during and after each meal, while others may need it during just feeding. Over time, you should be able to tune into your baby's signals and figure out what's best for your baby.
How do I burp my baby?
When you feed your baby, make sure they are in an upright position, which can help reduce the amount of gas.
Burping a fragile infant can be scary for any first-time parent. It's important to not only position your baby correctly so that her head is supported but also to know where to pat your baby to release the air. Hold the baby gently by using one of these positions to safely encourage burping:
- Hold your baby, abdomen down, against your chest, or over your shoulder, and pat or rub their back.
- Prop your baby into a seated position on your lap. Support your baby's back with one other hand and just wait (babies will sometimes burp on their own) or go ahead and rub or pat their back.
- Lie your baby, abdomen down, over your lap. Support their head with one hand and pat or rub their back with the other.
Generally, babies need to be burped until they are around 2-3 months old. After that, they should be able to burp on their own when they become more adept at keeping upright and holding their head up.
What should I do if my baby doesn’t burp?
If your baby isn't burping but doesn't appear to be uncomfortable, they most likely don't need to burp. However, if they aren't burping and start fussing or crying, or if they frequently spit up, they most likely are taking in too much air while feeding.
Spitting up is normal, particularly in the first 8 weeks. While it may cause panic in new parents, vomiting is common in both breastfed and bottle-fed babies and is just one of the messy stages that eventually will pass once the baby's stomach strengthens.
If your baby doesn't burp after a few minutes, try changing their position. One technique may be more effective than another. A helpful tip if none of these positions are working is to pull your baby's knees up to their chest or gently massage their abdomen.
Sometimes your baby may get gassy even when they are not feeding, usually when they are laying down or asleep. Simply picking them up and burping them before putting them back to bed will help them get to sleep.
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