All you have to do is spend a few minutes with a gassy, cranky baby to understand how important burping is to the feeding process. Babies who are bottle-fed tend to take in more air during feedings than breastfed babies (though breastfed babies need to be burped, too). Burping helps babies get rid of some of the air they swallow during feedings and can cut down on spitting up, crankiness, and digestive unhappiness.
How often should you burp?
In general, you should probably burp your baby after each two-to-three ounces of formula he takes in or if he becomes fussy during feedings. (Newborn babies who are bottle-fed may need to be burped after taking in less formula – say, after about one-half to one ounce.) He may not muster a burp every time. If a few minutes of trying doesn’t yield results, try a different position. If he still hasn’t burped, resume feeding and try again a short while later. Also, do burp your baby at the end of every feeding.
Three tried-and-true positions for burping your baby:
- Over the shoulder: Sit upright and hold your baby over your shoulder. (You’ll probably want to drape a burp cloth over your shoulder first, especially if your baby is prone to spitting up.) Gently pat or rub his back to bring up a burp.
- Sitting up: Prop your baby upright with his weight tilted forward, supporting him from the front with one hand. Gently pat or rub his back with the other hand.
- Across the lap: Lay your baby, stomach down, across your lap, being careful to support his head and neck. Gently pat or rub his back.
Click here for more instructions and photos of how to burp your baby.
How hard should you pat your baby? Not too hard. Gentle but firm patting or rubbing should suffice.
Other tips: Children under six months should be kept in an upright position for 10 to 15 minutes after each feeding to minimize spit-ups and aid with digestion. You may need to burp your baby between feedings as well if he shows signs of gassiness. Usually, as babies grow up, they take in less air as they eat and may not need to burp during or after each feeding.
Important: While most babies do spit up, if your baby projectile-vomits after a feeding, call your pediatrician or health care provider immediately.