Burping Your Baby

By Nancy Da Silva

In theory, burping your baby probably seems like a pretty straightforward task. You feed your baby then you burp him. While that is the gist of it, there are things you can do to make the task go smoothly. There are also things you may want to watch out for just in case you find that things are going as easily as you thought they would.

The reason you need to burp your baby is because as babies take in food through the bottle or breast, they use sucking motions. Between breathing and feeding they can suck in plenty of air. This can become uncomfortable and downright painful if this air is trapped in their stomach as unlike adults, they usually don’t have the capacity to expel it themselves.

Chances are things will get messy as burping can sometimes equal spitting up so investing in a good cloth to spread over your shoulder or on your thighs, depending on which position you choose to burp your infant, is a necessity.

The basic position most parents choose is holding your baby against your chest, with his chin level with your towel covered shoulder. However some babies are more comfortable being burped on their stomachs or sitting on your lap. Your baby will let you know which way he prefers.

If you’re going to burp him on his stomach, make sure his tummy is on the broadest part of your thighs and that your knees aren’t digging into any part of him. Of course, don’t forget to spread the burping cloth across your lap as you gently pat or massage his back. Some parents find it optimal to start at their lower back and softly move upwards as if moving the trapped air up.

If you choose to burp him sitting up, you may find that he actually burps quicker in this position. Spread the cloth over his legs as he sits on your lap, protecting both you and your baby from any spitting up. Support his head and the front of his body with one hand while you gently pat or massage his back.

You don’t have to wait until your baby finishes feeding to burp him. In fact, at the halfway mark is the usual guide for when you should take a break and burp him. So if the baby is halfway done his bottle, take a few minutes to get him in the burping position you and he likes best. Notice that I said a few minutes. Burping doesn’t have to be a lengthy process where the poor mother is stuck patting the poor baby’s back for half an hour. If the baby is ready to burp, he’ll burp. If he hasn’t burped after five minutes max, continue to feed him or if he’s finished, try again later.

If you’re breast feeding, you can try burping them before you switch breasts. Just listen to your baby. If he’s fussing before the halfway point then maybe he’s telling you that he needs to be burped now.

You might be disconcerted by if he spits up when you burp him, thinking that he’s bringing up his food and you have to feed him more to make up for it. In the majority of cases, you needn’t worry. However, if you find that he spitting up more than he’s taking in, you may have cause for concern. If he’s losing weight or becoming dehydrated in addition to spitting up too much, this is definitely something that your doctor should be made aware of.

If your baby becomes cranky and cries a lot after feeding even after burping this may be a sign that he’s in pain because he still has trapped air in his stomach that hasn’t been burped out. This might cause your baby to become colicky. Add in the fact that as they’re sobbing their swallowing more air and it only makes the colic even worse.

You may find that the pain your baby is feeling as a result of gassiness could be a symptom of something more serious like gastroesophageal reflux disease. So if you notice that your baby continues to cry and fuss even after you’ve burped them, talk to your doctor and ask if your baby could be tested for GERD.

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