How to Burp a Baby

Mother burping a baby

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While burping is most commonly associated with bottle-fed babies, breastfed babies also need to be burped. Babies tend to swallow more air when bottle-fed, which often results in more air in their tummies. However, many babies also take in excess air while nursing.

"I usually recommend burping in between switching breasts or after feeds," says Jennifer Abdul-Rahman, BSN, RN, IBCLC, a certified lactation consultant at Latched Eternal Lactation Consulting. Abdul-Rahman suggests burping your baby whether they appear to need it or not, in order to release any trapped air that may be in their tummy.

Why Babies Need to Be Burped

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 feeding again, since removing the air will make room in their stomach for more breast milk or formula.

Jennifer Abdul-Rahman, BSN, RN, IBCLC

Baby's have immature digestive tracts and using a supportive measure such as holding upright after a feed and burping can help improve and support their digestive system. It is one strategy to help minimize gas in infants.

— Jennifer Abdul-Rahman, BSN, RN, IBCLC

While burping can be helping, if your baby doesn't seem to be in any discomfort, you don't need to burp them every time. Nor do you need to worry if they don't burp.


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Step-by-Step for How to Burp Your Baby

Babies sometimes burp on their own without any help or special positioning. Other times, they need some help, and there are many ways to help the process along. Before getting started, you may want to place a burp cloth, bib, towel, or cloth diaper under your child's chin before you start burping to catch anything that comes up—and protect your clothing and your baby's clothing.

Then, try one of these three popular burping positions: 

  • 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, explains Abdul-Rahman. You don't have to rub or pat hard. Pounding harder on your child's back is not necessary, could cause injury, and will not make them burp better or faster. 

A great option is to hold them upright, chest-to-chest, after a feed in the skin-to-skin position for about 15 minutes after a feed, suggests Abdul-Rahman. "In this position, it helps improve digestion, aids in burping, qualifies as tummy time, and is soothing and comforting for the baby," she says.

Abdul-Rahman also recommends holding them facing outward, in front of you on your lap with the baby in a seated position. Then, tilt them forward and support their head under their jaw, while gently patting their back.

How Often Should I Burp My 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. Either way, Abdul-Rahman says it's a good idea to try to burp your baby after each feeding.

When They Stop Feeding

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

When You Switch Breasts

If you breastfeed from just one side at each feeding, you can burp your baby when they stop nursing. To do so, when the baby is done feeding on one side, bring them back to the skin-to-skin position on your chest, with their head to the side, says Abdul-Rahman. After you burp them, offer the same breast again to see if your baby wants more. Then, when the feeding is complete, burp your baby again.

When Your Baby Is Sleepy

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

Between Feedings

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.

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

What Else to Know About Burping Your Baby

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. Babies, and breastfed babies in particular, may not have to burp every time you try. You can continue the feeding, 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.

Burping is also an excellent way to include your partner, other family members, or caregivers in feedings, especially when breastfeeding. They can hold and burp the baby between breasts and after feedings. It's one of the many activities that your partner or loved ones can do to spend time with the baby, offer support to you, and feel like an important part of the breastfeeding team.

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

When to See Your Baby’s Pediatrician

If breast milk or formula is forcefully shooting out of your child's mouth, that's vomiting, and it's not normal. 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. 

A Word From Verywell

It's normal if your baby seems uncomfortable or spits up after or during feedings. This is very common and expected, and burping can help. 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.

6 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Donna Murray, RN, BSN
Donna Murray, RN, BSN has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rutgers University and is a current member of Sigma Theta Tau, the Honor Society of Nursing.