Burping is probably one of the things we don’t usually give much thought as an adult. It just happens naturally, and for some lucky few, they can even burp on demand!
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case for babies and newborns. Although some newborns, especially full-term babies, do not have problems burping on their own, there are some babies who may need some assistance.
If you need tips in this department, you’re in luck because today we are going to talk about everything you need to know about burping a baby who can’t or don’t burp on their own.
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What is burping and why do babies need to burp?
Burping is basically just releasing gas or air that’s trapped inside our digestive tract through our mouths.
We swallow air when we eat or drink, gas also forms inside our stomach as food gets digested, and when we are unable to burp or release gas, it can cause bloating and abdominal pain.
It can get pretty uncomfortable! The same goes for babies.
They swallow air during feeding (whether breastfeeding or bottle feeding) and also when they cry a lot, and when they can’t burp to release the air, you’ll end up with one fussy and uncomfortable baby.
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When to Burp Your Baby
It is advised that you should burp your baby in between feedings and right after eating.
If you are breastfeeding, burp your baby halfway through or before switching breasts, and if you are bottle feeding, burp your baby every 2-3 ounces.
If you think your baby is gassy or seem fussy while eating, try burping him every 5 minutes during the entire feeding to avoid discomfort.
How to Position your Baby During Feeding to Avoid Gassiness
Try feeding your baby in a slightly upright position or position his head a little higher than his stomach.
By doing so, you are minimizing the amount of air that your baby swallows.
This position also allows the milk to go straight to the bottom of your baby’s tummy and the air stays on top; making it easier for the baby to burp later on.
Related: Gassy Baby? Here Are The Ultimate Mom-Tips
Common Causes of Excessive Air in Your Baby’s Tummy
There are several reasons why babies swallow, or build up a lot of air inside their tummies; below are the most common ones:
• Inability to properly latch or incorrect latch – this causes the baby to swallow a lot of air during feeding
• Swallowing of air during an excessive bout of crying
• Digestive system is still developing or maturing
Symptoms and Signs that Your Baby may Have Gas
Worried that your baby may have gas? Here are the common symptoms:
• Fussiness and cries a lot even if you know that your baby isn’t hungry or sleepy
• Tummy looks full or swollen
• Baby seems to be in pain and lifts legs to his tummy
• Arches his back while crying
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How to Burp Your Baby in Between and After Feedings
The easiest way to burp your baby is to hold him upright in your arms and gently tap his back while you gently bounce on the floor.
Your movement plus the tapping on his back, help gas bubbles in your baby’s stomach to surface and hopefully gets released as a burp. If nothing happens, try switching positions.
What if baby doesn’t burp and falls asleep?
It’s very common for newborns to fall asleep while feeding and when this happens, I know it can be tempting to put the baby to bed, but unless you want your baby to wake up in pain due to trapped gas, try burping the baby before you kiss him good night and tiptoe out of the room.
Always try to burp your baby at the end of every feeding even if he is already asleep.
Skipping this can mean your baby may have troubled sleep due to tummy pain because of the trapped air. And you know who else will have a bad night?
You. So, no matter how tired you are from your 2am feeding, try burping your baby before going back to bed.
Related: The Best Pacifiers for Breastfed Babies 2020
What if Your Baby Still Can’t Burp? Try These Different Positions to Relieve Gas
Let the baby sit upright – Carefully support your baby’s head and body with one hand on the chest and have him sit on your lap, slightly leaning forward.
This upright position helps move the air to the top of your baby’s stomach and bending him forward helps put pressure on the stomach to eject the air out. Lightly taping or rubbing your baby’s back may also help.
Laying your baby across your lap– While you’re seated, have you baby lay on his tummy across your lap and lightly tap or rub the back to help move the air in the tummy so your baby can burp
Hold your baby over your shoulder– A little similar to letting the baby sit upright but this time, the you let the baby’s tummy rest on your shoulder to apply pressure.
You then lean back a little, so your baby is slightly leaning forward to help eject the air from the stomach.
Hold your baby like a football – Imagine cradling a football; with your baby’s butt safely cradled in your palm, make your baby’s head lay on your arm and put your hand down so your baby’s head is positioned higher than his tummy.
Make sure to turn his head sideways so as not to obstruct his breathing. Then gently tap your baby’s back with your other hand.
Keep the position for about 5-10 minutes, if a position doesn’t help, switch to the next one until your baby burps.
Based on experience, simply moving your baby from one position to another can trigger a burp or cause the air to finally get expelled.
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Other Things You Can Try if Your Baby Still Wont Burp
Burping Exercises – exercises like body rotations and bicycles help the trapped air inside to move and hopefully triggers a burp.
Massage the belly – gently massage your baby’s stomach using your heads, this applies gentle pressure on the stomach and can help push the air out.
Newborn gas drops – If nothing else works, you may want to try newborn gas drops. Gas drops are over-the-counter liquid supplement that contains simethicone. This ingredient helps in breaking up gas bubbles in your baby’s stomach.
• Is newborn gas drops safe for babies?
This depends on the brand that you are giving your baby. Just make sure to get one that does not contain alcohol, charcoal, and sucrose as these are not good for your baby. Also, although an over-the-counter supplement, this should never be given to an infant without the doctor’s approval. Always check with your child’s pediatrician before giving anything.
• Read the instructions carefully
If you’ve gotten a go signal from your baby’s doctor, make sure you read and follow the dosage and instructions
• Look out for allergies
Although it is very unlikely that this will cause allergic reactions, it is always better to be on the lookout for reactions especially if it is your baby’s first time to take it
Related: Best Tummy Time Activities for Newborns
Baby Can’t Burp – When to Call the Doctor?
I know it can be pretty distressing when you’ve done everything you could to make your baby burp without success.
Believe me, you are not the only one. Some newborns do need a bit of help since they may not be able to burp on their own yet as their digestive systems are still developing.
They should be needing your help less and less as they grow. However, in certain situations where you think you may need medical assistance from your doctor, don’t hesitate.
Call your baby’s pediatrician if you notice your baby has been crying longer than normal, their cries sound weak or strange, and if the crying sounds almost shrieking and without stopping.
It can be hard to tell if babies are sick especially that they aren’t capable of telling you what hurts, so you need to pay attention to them, writing down your observations and time stamps may also help you describe your baby’s condition to your baby’s pediatrician.
Related: Natural Ways to Treat and Prevent Diaper Rash
• Watch your diet – this is especially for the breastfeeding moms, what you put in your mouth greatly affects your baby’s digestive health. A common cause for gassiness is dairy food so avoid them if you can.
• Bottle Nipple – if bottle feeding, choose a bottle nipple that is appropriate for your child’s age. Giving them a nipple that’s too advanced may cause them swallow air excessively especially if the milk flow is too fast.
• Prepare burp cloths – Baby’s can spit up while burping, this is normal, you just need to prepare burp cloths to catch them.
Who knew that aside from everything we need to do for newborns, burping them is also a must in our to-do list?
But don’t worry, this is a phase that does not last long. Babies usually start burping on their own at around 2-3 months and soon enough, you’ll be missing those few minutes of mommy and baby moments.
So, for tonight, enjoy what you can and when you hear that burping sound, you know everything is right in the world. Until the next feeding session, that is.