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Burping a Baby: A Quick Guide for Parents

Burping a Baby: A Quick Guide for Parents

Burping a baby is an indispensable part of baby feeding because it eliminates the air they might have swallowed during breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, or crying. When babies are not burped, the excess air stays in their bodies, causing them to vomit or act fussy because of gas. Here are the different ways of burping the baby.

Leaning

This is perhaps the method most Filipino parents are familiar with. After feeding, place a towel over the shoulder where you want your baby to lean-on. Carry them upright, with their chin over the towel. Support their body with one hand and use the other to rub them on their back gently.

Another alternative to this position is to place your baby’s tummy over your shoulder. However, it’s best to do this method when your little one has better head control.

Finally, please keep in mind that it’s normal for the baby to spit or vomit up some milk while burping in this position.

Sitting

If you’re more comfortable burping the baby while they are seated, you can do this instead:

  • After feeding, sit the baby upright on your lap. Don’t forget to prepare a towel in case they spit or vomit a little milk.
  • Place one hand on their tummy; this puts pressure that helps them burp.
  • With your other hand, gently rub their back using a circular motion.

Lying Down

Burping the baby is also possible while they are lying on their tummy.

Prepare a towel and drape it over your lap. Place the baby on their tummy on your lap with their head sideways. Rub or gently pat them on the back to help them burp.

Instead of setting the baby on your lap, you can also carry them using your forearm.

Additional Reminders When Burping Your Baby

While we typically burp a baby after a feeding session, some reports say it’s okay to burp them midway through a feeding session. Do this, especially if they appear fussy while being fed.

Experts also recommend burping a baby when:

  • You switch breasts during breastfeeding; or
  • Your baby finishes any amount of milk.

How much a baby needs to burp also varies. For instance, breastfed newborn babies probably don’t need much burping because they swallow less air.

In case you’re having difficulty burping your baby, try to switch between the recommended positions. If that still doesn’t work, consider stopping or taking a break; it might be that your baby doesn’t need to be burped.

However, babies who appear irritable (they keep on changing position or pulling their legs up) during and after feeding usually really need burping. To help them, move their legs gently up and down in a bicycling motion.

After Baby Burping

You’ll know you have a successful feeding (and burping) session if your baby appears content and comfortable. At this point, you can spend some time with them playing or attend to their other needs, such as changing the nappy or bathing.

When to Seek Medical Help

You need to bring your baby to a pediatrician if they frequently become fussy during and after feeding sessions. Other signs to watch out for include:

  • Fever; especially if they are less than 3 months old
  • Inconsolable crying
  • Swelling fontanelle
  • Problems breathing
  • Pale or flushed skin
  • Appears to have trouble swallowing
  • Refuses to eat
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Progression of abdominal distention
  • Absence of bowel movement for 5 days

Key Takeaways

Burping is an essential part of baby feeding to avoid the buildup of excess gas in their body, which might make them irritable, fussy, and squirmy. The good news is, there are many ways to burp a baby: you can do it while they’re leaning on your shoulder, seated, or lying down. Spitting up and vomiting a little milk is normal when you burp them.

In most cases, you can stop burping the baby once they reach 4 to 6 months, but until then, it might be a good idea to stock up on towels for baby burping.

Learn more about Baby Care here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated May 26
Medically reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS
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