How to Burp Your Breastfed 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 baby swallows air during feeding, that air gets trapped in the stomach. This trapped air can be uncomfortable, causing your infant to cry or fuss. Additionally, it can make your baby feel full, when they aren't. 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.

Note that if your baby doesn't seem to be in any discomfort, you don't need to burp them. It can't hurt but it's also not necessary.

When Should You Burp Your Baby?

Some babies don't take in very much air during feedings, so they don't need to burp as much. Other babies swallow more air while they feed. For example, 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 may 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.

However, 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. 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, try one of these three popular burping positions include: 

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

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 is not necessary and will not make them burp better or faster. 

If Your Baby Doesn't Burp

If your baby doesn't burp after a few minutes, you can try to change their 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 baby down or just hold them. If, after a while, you notice your baby still isn't comfortable, you can try to burp them again.

What Is a Wet Burp?

When your baby burps, they may bring up a little bit of breast milk along with the air. There is no need to worry. These little wet burps or spit-ups and expected and 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 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, offer support to you, and feel like an important part of the breastfeeding team.

A Word From Verywell

It's normal to feel alarmed if your baby seems uncomfortable or spits up after or during feedings. However, this is very common and expected—and burping often helps quite a bit. If one burping technique doesn't work, you can often find success by trying another. And while the spit up that may dribble out of their mouth can be messy, it likely signals that the excess air has been released and your baby's tummy is feeling better.

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6 Sources
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