As your baby hungrily gulps down breast milk or formula, they’re also swallowing a lot of air. Since your newborn spends most of their time lying down, that air sits in their oesophagus and results in a gassy, cranky baby and spit up. Burping helps your baby get rid of the air and keeps them comfortable.
When to burp your baby
If you’re breastfeeding, burp your baby when you’re switching breasts and at the end of the feed. If your baby is on formula, stop halfway through to burp your baby and then once again at the end of the feed.
If your baby looks uncomfortable while you’re feeding them or stops feeding and fusses, they might need to be burped more often.
If after a few weeks, your baby isn’t spitting up and cries when you interrupt the feed, then it’s okay to just burp them at the end. Crying will just make them take in more air.
You only need to burp your baby until they’re around 2–3 months old. As your baby spends more time upright, they’ll be able to burp on their own.
Helpful hint #1: Try not to feed your baby when they’re overexcited or wait till your baby is too hungry. They’re more likely to swallow air in those situations.
3 wind-expelling burping positions
Some burping positions work better for some babies, so try them out and see what works best for your baby.
1. The classic over-the-shoulder
Hold your baby upright against your chest, with their head resting on your shoulder. Support their bottom with one hand and gently but firmly rub their back rhythmically.
2. The belly flop
Place your baby on their belly across your lap, with their belly on one leg and their head on the other, turned to one side. This puts gentle pressure on their belly. Throw in a gentle back rub for added encouragement.
3. The seated lean
Sit your baby face forward on your lap. Support them with your palm on their chest and your fingers under their chin. Be careful not to place pressure on your baby’s throat. Lean your baby forward and gently rub their back.
Helpful hint #2: Burping more often than not results in spit up, so remember to always put a towel or burp cloth over yourself or your baby, depending on the burping position, before burping.
No burp? No problem
If your baby doesn’t burp after a few minutes and appears to be comfortable, they might not need to burp. If they seem uncomfortable or fussy, try another position or hand them off to Dad. Fathers are often the better burpers, so let him have a go.
Helpful hint #3: Pulling your baby’s knees up to their chest is another good way to work out gas in their tummy. A gentle tummy massage helps too.