Imagine that you are eating hurriedly and doing so lying down, it can get quite uncomfortable! Likewise for infants, they spend a lot of time lying down and may not be able to regulate the speed of their feeding. Furthermore, babies below three months old spend a lot of time lying down, and air tends to get trapped during each feed which may in turn make the baby feel full (without drinking adequate milk), uncomfortable (fussy) or even result in spitting up milk. It is therefore important to burp your baby, and here are eight tips and tricks!
#1 Reduce air during feeding
Instead of lying flat down, you may want to keep your baby raised during feeding. Breastfed babies who have a proper latch-on are less likely to be ‘drinking’ too much air since the breast milk supply is regulated by the baby’s sucking. For bottle-fed babies, be sure to choose the right bottle teat as well as an anti-colic bottle that can release trapped air in the bottle.
#2 Burp regularly
The recommendation is to burp when changing from one breast to the next, and also at the end of the feeding session. For bottle-fed babies, burping is usually halfway through the formula milk feed (after 60 to 90 ml) and also at the end of feeding. Another rule of thumb is not to insist on burping halfway through the feed if the baby is crying for the milk – this is likely to lead to even more air going into the baby. Instead, burp at the end of the feed or when the baby is no longer anxious to feed.
#3 Notice the signs of needing a burp
If you notice that the baby is fussy during feeding, it may be that he does not feel comfortable as air is trapped and causes him to feel full. As there are many reasons for fussiness, it takes some trial and error to figure out which signs point to the baby needing a burp.
#4 Burp over the shoulder position
This position is easy to manage, and involves placing the baby over your shoulder in a slightly forward position and burping him by rubbing/ patting his back. It is also a position that is upright that allows the air to be released more easily. Place a cloth over your shoulder to prevent spit up milk staining your blouse.
#5 Burp in a sitting position
You can also sit the baby on your lap, lean the baby slightly forward and support the baby’s chest and chin using your hand such that your hand supports her weight (be sure that your hand does not grip the baby’s throat, but instead support the chest and chin). Pat your baby’s back and you may want to face him away from you so that any milk that is spit up is not directed at you!
#6 Burp in a face-down position
This involves placing the baby on your lap, with the head raised at a higher level by your thigh. Be sure that the baby’s head is slightly tilted to one side so that any spit will go out of the baby’s mouth.
Watch these two videos on how to burp your baby
(Credit Mount Sinai Parenting Center)
(Credit Eugene Pediatric Associates)
#7 Feeding a crying or hungry baby
When a baby is crying or feeding very hungrily, more air gets trapped during feeding. It is therefore advisable to feed your baby based on her timing (on-demand feeding) rather than scheduled feeding as the latter does not take into account the babies’ growth spurts and needs.
#8 Finally, no burping is required
The good news is when your baby is about three months old, and spending more time awake and upright, she may no longer needs to be burped regularly. Continue trying to burp at the end of each feed but if there is no burp and the baby appears satisfied and comfortable after a feed, there is no need to force a burp. Also keep your baby upright for 10 to 15 minutes after each feed to release any trapped air.
What to do if there is no burping
As burping is useful to help release trapped air from feeding, it is important to be patient about helping your baby to burp. If one position does not work, you may want to try a different one. You may also experiment with different patting methods as well, such as rubbing, or patting on the back or between the baby’s shoulder blades, or varying the pressure. A tummy massage using gentle and circular motion may also help your baby to release trapped air. If there is no burp after five minutes, you can stop as it may be that a burp is not needed.
When your baby reaches about six months old, it is quite safe to stop trying to burp, especially if your baby can finish a feed without any fussiness. However, if your baby is spitting up forcefully and persistently, he may need more than a burp. It may be a digestive problem that warrants medical attention to ensure that your baby is getting adequate nutrition.