Learning how to burp a baby might seem scary, but it’s super easy! This necessary part of having an infant helps make everyone happier and healthier, so learn the proper ways to burp a baby, why to do it, and when you can stop.
If you’ve never burped a baby, chances are you’re confused by the basics of why and how to do it. It can seem rough and a bit excessive!
But trust me, burping a baby is one thing you do not want to skimp on. It can make for an unbearably cranky little!
The Ultimate Guide to Burping a Baby
Today we’re going over alllllll things baby burping, from how it’s done to why it needs to be done to how to know you can stop.
Why do you need to burp a baby?
Babies need to burp because they have air trapped in their tummies, making them uncomfortable and/or preventing them to properly fill their bellies. This can happen by using a bottle, different bottles, a quick letdown, a crying jag, or a pacifier.
Since babies don’t know how to force it like adults, we need to help the trapped air get out. This is important to ease their discomfort and before it becomes painful gas.
How to burp a baby
There are a few different recommended ways to accomplish this. (I’ll also add some unconventional ways that have also worked for my own kids.)
If you’re having a hard time figuring it out, try a few different ways and see what works best for you.
One thing to note.You should be using a firm, flat hand and tapping hard enough to hear it. This is direct from the NICU nurse when I was there with my daughter!
Positions for burping a baby
Sitting in your lap.
Sit baby up. Support the baby’s chin in the curve of your dominant hand between your pointer finger and thumb.
Their chest will also be supported with your forearm a bit. Firmly tap on their back. You should hear a solid thumping sound each time.
This position is ideal for between feeds on sleepy baby. It can wake them up or keep them awake.
Over your shoulder
Place the baby over your shoulder, with her body on your chest and head on or over your shoulder, whatever is most comfortable. Firmly pat back until gas is released happens.
This is a great position for after a feed and before sleeping since you can gently cuddle or rock at the same time.
Laying on lap.
Sitting on a flat surface, prop your feet up so your knees are bent. Place baby belly down and burp him. You can also lay you baby across your lap, face down.
This is a great position if you’re trying to encourage baby to fall asleep after.
Other positions based on 3 babies
- My middle son needed to be held facing out with my arm around his tummy to apply gentle pressure. I would stand and rock with him until he got a good spit up out. He had decent reflux.
- My daughter doesn’t really burp by being patted. If I put her over my shoulder and bounce a bit, gently rubbing her back, it works like a charm.
- My oldest son didn’t need a lot of burping, but was colic so he would work himself up and ingest air. The only way we could get him to burp was snapping him into the carrier against me tight ish and walk/bouncing. We love the Ergo Baby Embrace. (Read our review!)
Basically, try the “normal” ways, but also, work to see what works best for YOUR baby!
Burping when breastfeeding
General consensus is that you should nurse then burp when you’re switching sides. If you’re like me and have an oversupply which makes one side more than “enough”, nurse until they pull off and then burp.
I find when I do this, they’re ready for “round two” because we freed up some space.
Burping when bottle feeding
This depends on the bottle, but aim for every 2-3 ounces. When I was in the NICU with my daughter and she was only taking 1-2 ounces,
I was told to feed until she stopped, burp to “make room” then continue the bottle, repeating as necessary.
How long to burp a baby:
Go until you at least get one good burp. That being said, if you’ve been patting for 1-2 minutes to no avail and the baby doesn’t seem uncomfortable, you’re good to skip and go back to feeding.
When your baby is about 4-9 months, you can stop. Yes, it’s quite the gap – I’ve found I don’t INTENTIONALLY stop.
You’ll start noticing that it takes longer to burp baby or that more and more often, she doesn’t burp at all. Generally a good sign you can stop unless she has another cranky spell!
My daughter stopped at about 5 months this time around!
While burping your baby isn’t the most fun or exciting part, it can definitely help make life a bit easier and avoid painful gas.