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How to Burp A Baby: A Step-By-Step Guide

Burps are not typically a pleasant sound – unless, of course, they’re coming from your new baby. Getting a good burp out of baby means they’re letting loose the air that’s trapped in their belly – which we all know feels pretty satisfying. And up until baby reaches a certain age, more often than not, they will need your help with burping; not necessarily because they can’t burp but because it’s difficult to expel air when you spend most of your time laying down. 

How air gets in baby bellies varies; it can be caused by bottle feeding, breastfeeding moms who have an overactive letdown, or from a hefty crying session. If you’ve just switched over to Dr. Brown’s bottles from another bottle brand, you’ll notice baby doesn’t need as much burping as before. Still, it’s a good idea to incorporate the practice into your feeding regimen. Use this guide as to learn the ins and outs of burping baby. 

Three Ways to Burp a Baby
So, what’s the best way to burp a baby? There are three popular techniques for burping – along with a plethora of other ways. For the sake of time, we’ll cover these three strategies and a few ways people tweak them. 

  1. Over-the-Shoulder:
    Simply put, it’s gently placing baby over your shoulder and patting or rubbing her back to expel trapped air. Of course, this is done with a protective layer via a burp cloth. Depending on who does this one, though, there can be a slight change in approach. Mom, lay baby in a way that positions her belly on your breast. This puts a padded layer of pressure into baby’s tummy that can facilitate release. Dad, bring baby a bit higher up so that her belly is resting closer to your shoulder for the same reason. Either way, don’t bounce her as you burp. 
  2. Face-Down on Lap:
    Sit on a stable chair or couch with both feet on the ground. Lay baby tummy-down across your legs, one leg under his stomach and the other under his head, with his head turned sideways. Again with the burp cloth to avoid the dreaded “wet burp.” Use one hand to secure him and the other to gently pat or rub his back in a circular motion. When baby is a little older, some parents opt to lay on their side and place baby face-down over their hip to help burp them. 
  3. Sitting Up:
    Sit baby in an upright position, lean her slightly forward, and use one hand to support her chest and head and the other hand to rub and pat her back. When baby has more head and neck control, consider what one mom did in a now-viral video. In the same position, she moved baby’s legs in, bent at the knee and lifted baby’s arms in a 90-degree angle out from baby’s body. 

When to Burp Baby
Until you get to know signs baby needs a burp, there are some simple “rules-of-thumb” to follow. 

Burping When Breastfeeding
For breastfeeding moms, a good time to burp baby is when you are switching breasts. If baby typically only feeds on one breast, burp during the usual “halfway point.” So, if you know baby’s usual feeding session lasts around 20 minutes, burp at the 10-minute mark. 

Burping When Bottle Feeding
When to burp during bottle feeding largely depends on the bottle you’re using. With Dr. Brown’s bottles, it doesn’t need to be all that often. With non-vented bottles or bottles that can cause more air to build up, burping every 2-3 ounces consumed is a safe bet. 

Whether you’re bottle or breastfeeding, after-feeding burping can be critical. Try not to wait until baby is practically asleep; jarring her awake with a burping session will not be appreciated. When baby starts to slow down, or is no longer actively sucking and swallowing, gently bring her to whichever burping position is desired. 

How Long to Burp Baby
If baby doesn’t let one loose within a minute or so of trying, he probably doesn’t need any additional help. Sometimes air can take a little to work its way to the top of the stomach, though. If he is wriggling around making unhappy faces, give it another go. Unless he’s going down for a nap, consider keeping him upright for a while; sitting up helps nature take its own course. 

When Can You Stop Burping Baby
The typical advice for when it’s OK to stop burping baby is anywhere between 4 – 9 months. Since that’s a huge range, we’ll offer this: If she hasn’t burped and she’s looking fussy, burp her. If she starts burping on her own, phase it out. When she can sit up for longer periods on her own, she should begin developing self-burping skills. 

The Newborn that Won’t Burp
That’s ok! Whether or not baby has to burp can depend a lot on how much air they sucked in when they were feeding. With a bottle like Dr. Brown’s® Anti-Colic Options+™, baby will burp less because they’re not taking in nearly as much air as other bottles. As long as baby is gaining weight appropriately and doesn’t seem uncomfortable, burping isn’t always necessary. Also – they may need to release it on the other end. 

Burping baby doesn’t have to be a scientific endeavor; just go with your own gut and you’ll get the hang of it in no time. To learn more about the bottle that’s clinically proven to reduce colic, spit-up, and of course, burping and gas, check out our range of styles and Options+™! 

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