What seems quite a simple task for adults has been learned in months and even years during childhood. Moreover, a young body differs physiologically much from an adult body.
Mother’s milk or liquid feed is the primary energy source for a newborn. Besides, unlike adults, newborns need lots of calories compared to their body weight to support the fast-growing body.
However, newborns have some unique issues, like they swallow a lot of air that gets trapped in their stomachs. If this air remains trapped for longer, it would make them feel full and reduce the amount of milk a baby drinks.
Thus, unlike adults, burping is an essential thing for newborns. It is necessary to get rid of those trapped gases. Else, a baby would often wake up with pain. Thus, lack of burping would affect the child’s appetite and even sleep quality.
In fact, in some cases, insufficient burping could cause frequent crying, especially if it occurs after feeding or the child shows signs of irritation even when fed recently.
However, never hurry to make any conclusions. Babies differ considerably. So, if your baby does not burp frequently, it is not a cause for worry. Not all babies need to burp much.
Usually, a baby would burp within a few minutes after feeding. However, mothers have a minor issue, as most babies would sleep within minutes of being fed.
How to burp a newborn?
It is pretty simple and straightforward. One of the ways to support burping is trying to hold a baby in a bit upright position. It does not matter if a baby is sleeping. Newborns can even burp when sleeping.
When a baby is held upright, it forces the air to move up, as it is lighter than the fluids in the stomach. Thus, helping the baby to burp is all about finding the correct position that is good for a baby.
One may need to make some changes in the position, and this can be learned with some practice and experience.
Additionally, it appears that babies are more likely to forget burping when fed sleeping. This is because newborns have a reflex that helps them suck even when sleeping. However, there is no reflex for burping.
Thus, when you are feeding, and the baby appears to be asleep, thus help your baby burp by slowing down feeding and changing the baby to an upright position.
Generally, a baby may not like when you bring them to an upright position, as a baby may even look a bit uncomfortable. So, mothers need to be gentle and a bit careful.
Another good way is to change sides when feeding. This will help the baby make room for more milk and promote burping. It is perhaps the simplest and most effective technique.
Since a baby is quite likely to be sleeping after being fed, another method that works is holding a baby on your shoulder. Avoid putting your baby in a crib, cradle, or bassinet immediately after feeding. Instead, hold a baby on your shoulder.
It is quite a cozy and natural position for a baby to sleep, and at the same time, it promotes burping, helping release trapped gases .
That is why, traditionally, mothers have held their baby on their shoulders for some time after feeding. What is good about this position is that baby can keep sleeping. Moreover, carrying a baby on the shoulder only increases bonding between the mother and a child.
Another alternative to holding a baby on your shoulder could be holding a baby on your lower chest. This position is equally comfortable for a child. Mothers can hold a baby with a hand and support legs with another hand.
Rocking the baby in your arms may also help to burp. In this case, the baby rests on the mother’s forearm, which puts pressure on the tummy and thus promoting the release of gases and burping. To comfort your baby, you can keep patting gently on the back.
One way to help burp is to lay a child on legs while sitting. In this case, lay your baby with tummy towards your thighs. This would also put pressure on a tummy and help pass of gasses.
Generally, it is good to use multiple ways together, like holding a child on a shoulder and then rocking in arms. Using different ways may be even more effective.
Is burping really necessary?
It may not be essential, but it helps. Helping your child burp is one of the parts of parenting till your child grows up and becomes self-sufficient.
Some newborns are quite good at burping and do not require much help. Generally, it is not difficult for parents to find that out. However, other newborns and babies would need much help.
However, mothers or parents do not need to worry too much about it. Trapped gases do indeed cause colic, but not only. Thus, studies suggest that helping a baby burp would not necessarily result in fewer episodes of colic .
Another way of helping a baby could be using gas drops or gripe water. However, in recent years their use has fallen out of favor. It is because studies have failed to show much benefit from them. Even worse, most of them contain chemicals. That is why the use of gripe water is uncommon these days .
Although the risk of choking due to spit-up is minimum, but still there. Thus, avoid overfeeding a newborn and help burp in more natural ways by changing postures, and avoid putting a child in a crib immediately after feeding.
To conclude, a simple act of helping a newborn burp may provide much-needed comfort to a baby. It is not something essential to do but recommended. It is a part of parenting.
- Baby basics: How to burp your baby. Accessed February 9, 2022. https://www.unicef.org/parenting/child-care/how-to-burp-baby
- Kaur R, Bharti B, Saini SK. A randomized controlled trial of burping for the prevention of colic and regurgitation in healthy infants. Child Care Health Dev. 2015;41(1):52-56. doi:10.1111/cch.12166
- Adhisivam B. Is gripe water baby-friendly? J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2012;3(2):207-208. doi:10.4103/0976-500X.95544