An unburped baby can disrupt the family peace, so, as a parent, it's in your best interest to master the art of effective baby burping early in parenthood. Different methods work best for different babies, and many parents also prefer one method over another. As long as the baby burps and doesn't go to sleep with a stomach-full of air, it doesn't matter which technique you use.
Decide when you're going to burp your baby. Most babies need burping -- which brings up air that can cause pain after a feeding -- after the feeding, while some also need a burping during a feeding. Bottle-fed babies often swallow more air during a feeding than breastfed babies and need more frequent burping -- every 2 to 3 ounces, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Burp your breastfed baby when you switch breasts.
Choose a burping method. The four most common burping techniques include holding the baby over your shoulder, sitting the baby up in your lap, placing the baby face down over your lap and hanging him over your arm. In each, putting pressure on your baby's abdomen forces air out of the stomach. A forceful burp can bring up not only air but a mouthful of spit-up milk and mucus. Whichever position you choose, place the burp cloth under wherever your baby's mouth will be to protect your clothing from the small amount of milk that often comes up with a burp.
Put the baby in your preferred position. If you sit him up in your lap, support his back with one hand and keep one hand under his chin to keep his head upright. If you hold him over your shoulder, support his back and head with one hand to avoid injuring his neck if his head drops back. When putting him over your lap or over one arm, don't let his head dangle down. On your lap, keep his head turned to one side. If you hold him over one arm, support his head with one hand.
Pat the baby gently on his back in a rhythmic pattern. If you pat too hard, the baby could spit up too forcefully, losing a good deal of his feeding along with the air in his stomach. Newborns often spit up milk after a feeding because the muscle between the stomach and esophagus, the lower esophageal sphincter, doesn't tighten up until approximately age 3 months. Approximately 50 percent of babies spit up at least once a day until that age, Harvard School of Medicine Pediatric Professor Harland Winter explains in a Wolters Kluwer Health UpToDate article.
Tips & Warnings
- Keep your baby in an upright position for 10 to 15 minutes after each feeding, KidsHealth advises. An upright position helps keep milk in the stomach if your baby burps.
- If your baby burps and spits up after every feeding, is very irritable, arches his back and cries and isn't gaining weight the way he should, let his pediatrician know. He may have gastroesophageal reflux, a condition that sometimes requires medications to decrease stomach acid production.
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