We've all sat with our babes bent over our knees or thrown on our shoulders desperately trying to elicit just one quivering belch, often to no avail. In fact, the early days of parenthood can feel like a never-ending cycle of feeding and burping your little one between naps (which offer just enough time to change out of your spit-up-drenched clothes).
But what if we told you that you don't actually have to burp your baby after a feed?
According to paediatrician Clay Jones, who spoke to McGill University's Ada McVean of the Office for Science and Society, we're all trying to smack gas out of our infants that may not even be there. “There is no physiologic reason why babies would need help burping,” he said, explaining that they should be able to burp unaided just like we do.
There's also, he says, no concrete proof that reflux or fussiness in otherwise healthy babies is even related to gas. “If anything,” Jones said, “infants are protected from gas build up by normal immaturity of the lower esophageal sphincter, which relaxes and opens frequently.”
So, if infants don't actually need our help venting the air that builds up while they nurse, then what are we actually doing? Possibly making them spit up more—and treating ourselves to many unnecessary loads of laundry! According to Jones, it makes perfect sense that “hitting a baby with a full stomach on the back will cause vomiting” rather than prevent their spitting up. Touché, Clay.
Every mom and baby is different, so if you believe that burping your infant is helping, there's no need to stop. Do what feels right for you. But if you're rarely getting the satisfaction of a Homer Simpson-worthy belch and you're constantly covered in spit up, you might want to try forgoing the post-feeding burp session.
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