Breastfeeding and Burping Your Baby

Woman burping baby over her shoulder

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Bottle-fed babies need to burp, but do you have to burp your baby if you're breastfeeding? The answer is yes. Even though babies who take the bottle swallow more air than babies who take the breast, you should still try to burp your breastfed baby during and after each ​feeding, as needed.

Why Should You Burp Your Baby?

When a newborn or an infant swallows air during feeding, that air gets trapped in the stomach. It can be uncomfortable, and it can make your baby feel full. Burping helps to remove that air. Once your child burps and gets that air out of their belly, they will feel better. They may even start breastfeeding again, since removing the air will make room in their stomach for more breast milk.

When Should You Burp Your Breastfed Baby?

Some babies don't take in very much air during feedings, so they don't need to burp as much. However, if you have a strong let-down reflex or an overabundant breast milk supply, the fast flow of your breast milk can cause your baby to swallow more air. In these situations, you will have to burp your baby more often.

A good time to burp your breastfed baby is after they stop nursing, or if they become fussy during a feeding. Your child will often stop nursing and seem uncomfortable if they need to burp. If you nurse from both sides at each feeding, you can try to burp your baby in between alternating breasts, and after each feeding.

If you breastfeed from just one side at each feeding, you can burp your baby when they stop nursing. After you burp your child, offer the same breast again to see if your baby wants more. Then, when the feeding is complete, burp your baby again.

Burping is also helpful if you have a sleepy baby. If your newborn falls asleep at the breast, burping may help to wake them up and keep them breastfeeding a little longer.

If your baby is breastfeeding well and actively sucking, you don't need to stop for a burp. Wait until they stop nursing on their own, and then burp them.

Some babies need to be burped between feedings, too. If your little one is fussy and can't sleep, a burp may be all that they need. Babies also swallow air when they cry. Because some babies cry more than others, especially if they have colic, they will need to be burped more often.

How to Burp Your Baby

Babies sometimes burp on their own without any help or special positioning. However, it's natural to want to help the process along, and there are many ways to do that. Here are three popular burping techniques. 

  • Over your shoulder: Hold your baby upright, in a vertical position with their head over your shoulder. 
  • Lying on your lap: Place your baby on their belly across your lap and support their head with your lap, arm, or hand. 
  • Sitting on your lap: Sit your baby on your lap, facing away from you. Lean them forward and support his head, neck, and chest with your hand. 

First, you may want to place a burp cloth, bib, or cloth diaper under your child's head before you start burping to protect your clothing and catch anything that comes up. Then, when your baby is in position, gently rub or pat them on the back. You don't have to rub or pat hard. Pounding harder on your child's back will not make them burp better or faster. 

What If Your Baby Doesn't Burp?

If your baby doesn't burp after a few minutes, you can try to change burping position. If that doesn't work, don't worry. A breastfed baby may not have to burp every time you try. You can continue the feeding or put your child down. If, after a while, you notice your baby isn't comfortable, you can try to burp them again.

What Is a Wet Burp?

When your baby burps, he may bring up a little bit of breast milk along with the air. There is no need to worry about these little wet burps or spit-ups; they're normal. Spit-ups are small, and flow slowly out of your baby's mouth.

If breast milk is forcefully shooting out of your child's mouth, that's vomiting, and it's not normal. Of course, occasional vomiting is usually not a concern. But if your baby vomits after more than one feeding, or if has other symptoms such as fever or diarrhea, contact your child's doctor right away. 

Burping and Your Partner

Burping is an excellent way to include your partner in breastfeeding. Your partner can hold and burp the baby between breasts and after feedings. It's one of the many activities that your partner can do to spend time with the baby and feel like an important part of the breastfeeding team.

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