"How to burp a baby" or "How to wind a baby" is a common question asked by new moms and dads. Burping (winding as it's also known) is such a basic requirement for a happy baby, we all want to get it right.
This page answers questions about burping infants as well as showing a number of burping positions. The same advice applies for bottle-fed babies as for breast-fed babies. To read more about feeding your baby, click here.
Burping in babies is caused by trapped air in the stomach. As babies feed they gulp air as well. The air takes space in the stomach so there is less room for the milk. The trapped air (also known as wind) has to be released - so burped out - to make space for the milk.
Babies have poor truncal tone (they just don't have strong muscles supporting the spine) so they can't sit up straight. This means there is pressure on the stomach and can trap air - when this trapped air (and sometimes milk with it) is released, it forms a burp. The answer to "How to burp a baby?" is to relieve some of this pressure which can be trapping the air so it can be released.
Not all babies have trapped wind so if your baby doesn't seem to have wind (trapped air) then don't worry - there is no need to continue trying to 'burp' your baby if she seems comfortable.
It is uncomfortable to have wind - you will probably know what it feels like to have gas (or wind) yourself. Babies also find it uncomfortable.
All babies are different and you will get to know your baby and will recognize the signs of wind (trapped air). Some of the signs showing the need for burping a baby include:
If your baby isn't showing signs of having wind, then she may not need burping.
Again, every baby is different but generally babies need to be burped midway through a feed and at the end of a feed. If your baby gulps a lot, then you may need to burp her more often.
If you stop your baby feeding midway through a feed and she cries vigorously, I would resume feeding. Clearly, she is not ready to burp and crying will only increase the amount of gulped air.
Burping your baby becomes less necessary as your baby grows and often by the time she is mobile, so crawling or walking, trapped wind will no longer be such a problem.
It is quite common for babies to have a small vomit (also known as a spill or posset) with the burp. It is relatively easy for babies to vomit (or have gastro-esophageal reflux - this term just describes the anatomical process) - read more. As long as your baby is happy in herself and not distressed with the vomit, and she is putting on weight there is no need to worry about your baby vomiting with burping.
If your baby is distressed when vomiting with feeds, this is gastro-esophageal reflux disease (also known as acid reflux in infants) - read more.
There are times when your baby will gulp more air when feeding and at these times you will find she has more trapped air(wind). This can happen when your baby is feeling hungrier and so feeding too quickly. It can also happen if your baby has been unsettled with a lot of crying. You will need to spend more time burping baby at these times.
We don't really know what causes colic although there is a school of thought that it is related to trapped wind (gas) because many babies get relief from passing wind (either up or down!). Colic is excessive crying in infants so if your baby cries for long periods several days a week for several weeks, this would be referred to as colic. This may occur after feeds. To read more about baby colic, click here.
There is no one right way for burping babies. However there are several tried and tested burping positions as demonstrated on this "how to burp a baby" page. You may find one your baby finds best or you might try all of them at some time. I usually try one and if that doesn't work, change the burping position to another one.
"How to burp a baby" properly involves taking the pressure off the stomach (so straightening out the spine) and holding the baby upright (so the air will move up and out!). There are several techniques that will achieve this, as seen below.
You may even know how to burp a baby with another position - if it works, keep doing it.
If you have a very unsettled baby, your baby may have colic. There are several simple measures you can try including:
Finally, if your baby doesn't burp, don't panic. Air will come one way or the other!
Over time you will develop good options of how to burp a baby or keep your baby comfortable.
By the time babies get upright, they are usually not bothered by gas (wind, trapped air) so much and it won't be so necessary to burp your baby at every feed. She will be able to do it herself.
Being upright actually refers to having less pressure on the stomach and this happens as your baby gets stronger muscles around the spine. In some babies, this happens once they start sitting well, but in others, it isn't until they are walking.
If you have found information on how to burp a baby useful, surf around the site as there is lots more great information here.
Last reviewed 28 April 2011
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