Exclusively breastfed babies may not need to burp as much as babies that are bottle-fed. That being said, it is important to keep in mind that all babies are different and some may need to burp more than others no matter which way you are feeding them.
In the first few months, your baby is learning how to digest milk (breastmilk or formula). They never had to digest anything in utero. And with eating comes gassiness. Gassiness is caused by your baby taking in air while feeding.
Some things that may cause gassiness in your baby include:
- A fast letdown
- Baby was very hungry and drank milk more quickly
- Incorrect latch
- Lip or tongue tie
When should you burp your baby?
- Before switching breasts
- If bottle-feeding, every 2-3 oz
- If baby pulls away from the breast or bottle
There are three ways that you can burp your baby. Remember that a burping position should apply gentle but firm pressure on the baby’s stomach. And make sure to have a receiving blanket or burping cloth handy! The first position is over the shoulder. Place her high up over your shoulder so that her tummy is gently pushing against it. Walking around while holding her in this position may help. The second position is sitting her on your lap with your fingers supporting her chin. For older babies who have head control, you may choose to place your hand gently against their tummy. The last position is to lay her down across your lap and gently rub and pat her back. Burp your baby for about a minute. If your baby didn’t burp but seems content, continue with the feeding if necessary. If she’s grimacing, squirming or refusing to take more milk, try burping her again.
Should you use the rub or the pat method? Honestly, this is a personal preference. I have yet to see a study that shows one is better than the other! It greatly depends on what your baby prefers and responds to. Don’t be afraid to be creative – feel free to use as many methods and positions as you want.
If your baby is having a difficult time burping, try burping her more often during the feeding. For babies that are very gassy, try incorporating a bit of exercise and infant massage into your play time. Place your baby on her back and gently pump her legs towards her chest and back down (bicycle legs). For massaging, try using Dr. Sears’ “I Love You” method. Massage your baby with a little bit of warm oil on your fingers. Make sure that the room is warm and draft-free. The illustration below shows you how to do the massage.
Burping can be quite the chore depending on your child. Rest assured that it doesn’t last forever! Once your baby is moving more freely, she will be able to pass gas and burp by herself.