If you’re a new mom or have a baby on the way, firstly, congratulations. If you're nervous or confused about about the burping part, don't worry that's understandable. You’ve likely seen lots of parents who pat their babies in different positions after feeding and follow this burping ritual religiously until baby has let out at least a couple of burps.
But is this ritual necessary? Do babies need to be burped? How long do they need to be burped for? And when can you stop burping a baby?
We consulted a pediatrician to get answers to all your burping questions.
Before we get to the ‘when,’ let’s start with the ‘why’. Why are parents so adamant about burping their baby?
According to Dr. Betty Choi, pediatrician and founder of Human Body Learning, “When babies breastfeed or drink formula, the air they swallow can make the belly gassy and uncomfortable. Because a baby's tummy is so tiny, when it has too much air, it can contribute to fussiness and spitting up. That's why pediatricians recommend burping a baby to help the baby feel better. This involves patting a baby's back after breastfeeding or bottle feeding.”
When you’re burping your baby, it may take time to complete a feed, but burping babies reduces their air intake and makes them more comfortable.
Now, onto the real question - when can you stop burping a baby?
Firstly, every baby is different. So, what works for one baby might not work for yours. There’s no definite timeline for when one should stop burping their baby. In most cases, the age to stop burping for babies is 4 - 6 months as they swallow less air after turning six months old.
Burping a baby isn’t a rule set in stone. It’s a practice that parents engage in to ensure their baby is comfortable during a feed or after one. Here, observing cues about your baby becomes crucial. If they’re not being fussy or squirmy, it's not necessary to burp them.
“For breastfed babies, attempt burping before switching breasts. For formula-fed infants, attempt every 2 to 3 ounces (60 to 90 millilitres). But if your baby seems fussy while feeding, you can take a burping break and then try feeding again. Every baby is different, and some will need more burping than others”, recommends Dr. Choi.
If you want to burp your baby, but they sleep without burping, it’s okay. There is no need to wake a sleeping baby and force a burp, it might make them irritable.
Again, it’s important to remember that every baby's digestive system is different. Some babies might tend to swallow air or spit up and let out projectile vomit. In such cases, you can hold them upright to burp for at least 10-15 minutes. But if your baby does not spit up or show signs of colic (an intense and long crying episode), feel free to lay them down shortly after their feed.
Generally, up until eight weeks, newborns need to be burped frequently because they are still learning to drink milk without swallowing much air. Laying them down right after a feed might build up gas and create discomfort in their tummy.
Instead, try burping them to ensure they let go of the gas from their digestive system. You can either
Well, there’s no definite answer to this. Again, check in with your baby and watch for cues and signs of discomfort. If you think your baby has let out a big burp and they appear comfortable, then you can lay them down. Ensure that they aren’t spitting up or being fussy.
If you observe that your baby lets out tiny burps, hold them for 10-15 minutes till they let out some burps. You can also try a gentle baby massage to help work through signs of gas.
Dr. Choi explains, “Rather than counting burps, observe after your baby eats to see if he or she looks comfortable versus cranky. That will be the best sign of whether or not burping is needed. Sometimes one burp is enough, and sometimes a few burps must come out.”
There’s no scientific evidence that burping reduces colic (intense crying episodes), but in general, burping a baby before switching breasts and even after breastfeeding can release air that they swallow while breastfeeding.
Burping is ideal as it lets go of gases that may cause discomfort to the baby. They might also spit up or get cranky.
If your baby won’t burp even after 10-15 minutes, you can lay them down and try again after a couple of minutes if they're not sleeping. If they don't burp and look comfortable, you don't need to force a burp.
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