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A newborn baby lying on a mat

better out than in: a guide to baby burping

4 minutes


As with most things during the first few months of parenting, burping a baby can initially seem a little bewildering. Here we answer some of the most common questions new parents have on the subject…

  1. Baby burping: why do babies need to be burped?

  2. When to burp your baby

  3. How to burp a baby

  4. Can you burp a sleeping baby?

  5. How to burp a sleeping baby

  6. What to do if your baby won’t burp

  7. At what age do you stop burping baby?

1. Baby burping: why do babies need to be burped?

Young babies tend to swallow a lot of air when they’re feeding, which can cause air bubbles to become trapped in their stomach. If they’re not burped (or winded as it’s also known), this excess air can cause baby discomfort, leading them to bring up what they’ve just drunk (called ‘spitting up’), which can sometimes be forceful. They might also become very gassy.

“A friend told me that babies who are breastfed don’t need to be burped. I can assure you that – for us at least – this is categorically untrue. I followed this baby burping (or rather non-baby-burping) advice for the first few days after we brought her home and the result was the most enormous bottom burps (as we call them in this house). As soon as I began burping her, she was a lot less gassy.”

2. When to burp your baby

When it comes to baby burping, some babies need to be burped during their feed, some babies need to be burped after. The best thing you can do is follow their lead. If they seem fussy while feeding (i.e. if they squirm, cry or refuse to take the bottle/breast), try burping them midway through the feed. If they seem fine, keep going and burp them when they have finished.

3. How to burp your baby

There are three traditional ways to burp a baby. Try each of them out and see which one works best for you. With all three methods, it’s best to have a muslin ready, as babies often bring up a little milk when they burp. It’s a good idea to have WaterWipes biodegradable, vegan, cruelty-free and sensitive baby wet wipes on hand too. They’re great for cleaning up baby – and you, if needed.

Over your shoulder

Position your baby so that they’re lying against you with their chin resting on your shoulder. Then gently rub or pat their back until you hear a burp.

How to burp your baby over your shoulder.

Sitting on your lap

Sit baby sideways on your lap, using one hand to gently support their face and upper body. With your other hand, gently rub or pat their back.

How to burp a baby sitting on your lap.

Lying on your lap

Lie baby across your lap with their tummy facing downwards. Support their body with one hand, then use the other to gently rub or pat their back.

I thought I’d never get the hang of baby burping but after a lot of trial and error, I found that lying him across my lap got the gas up and out. Thanks to my own mum for the technique suggestion – she really did know best in this situation.

How to burp a baby lying on your lap.

4. Can you burp a sleeping baby?

While it may be tempting to put your little one straight to bed if they fall asleep during a feed, for their own comfort it’s best to try and burp them. A full and wind-free baby will sleep better and for longer, which of course means you will too.

5. How to burp a sleeping baby

The over-the-shoulder method is usually best for burping a sleeping baby without waking them, but if this doesn’t work, gently try one of the other two methods listed above.

6. What to do if your baby won’t burp

If you can’t get your baby to burp no matter how hard you try, don’t worry too much ¬– they’ll most likely pass the excess air out the other end (usually very noisily too). If they begin to get very fussy or distressed, however, try sitting them up with support for 15 minutes or even gently bouncing them on your lap. These both often result in the burp coming up on its own.

“When I couldn’t get my baby to burp using the typical methods, I used to very gently bounce her on my lap for a few minutes. I’m not sure of the science behind it, but the motion seemed to move the air, and almost always resulted in a big burp.”

If you’re struggling with baby burping or have any concerns or worries about baby burping, speak to your GP or health visitor. They’ll be able to both assist and reassure you.

7. At what age do you stop baby burping?

Most babies tend to stop spitting up when they can sit up – typically between four and nine months of age. As with all things baby, just follow their cues – they’ll let you know when it’s time.

If you found this article helpful, why not take a look at some of the other how-to guides on our Parenting Hub? For example…

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