Coming home with a new baby presents many challenges for new parents, but one of the biggest ones is properly burping a newborn. There is a bit of art and science to burping a newborn, but this is an important skill to learn in order to relieve gas and help a baby feel more comfortable.
This article describes the best practices for burping a newborn baby, the importance of burping, and the dangers of unreleased gas over time.
The most common position to burp a newborn baby is to lay the baby on the shoulder and pat the back. Parents should hold the baby against the shoulder firmly and pat or rub the back gently. The newborn’s lower back and bottom should be supported with the opposite arm.
However, another effective way to go about burping a newborn is to lie a newborn face-down on the lap with the head on one leg and the abdomen on the other. It is necessary to support the baby with one hand while applying gentle pressure or patting the back with the other hand. Parents can also sit the baby upright in their laps with the baby’s body leaning forward. One hand should support the baby’s chest and head, and the other one should pat the baby’s back.
If a burp is not coming no matter what position a parent tries, it may be time to try a little movement. Parents can try moving their babies from side to side in a dancing motion to coax out a burp and have a little fun. It may also help to lightly bounce the baby on one’s knee or on an exercise ball to create gentle pressure on the abdomen that may release a burp. A little bit of light massage on the baby’s back may be beneficial as well.
Doctors recommend burping a baby when switching breasts if the mother is breastfeeding. When feeding with a bottle, parents should take a burp break when the baby slows down or stops feeding. Burping should also occur at the end of a feeding session. Some babies take longer to burp in general, while others will simply burp on their own while lying down an hour or two after feeding.
The purpose of burping is to release air in the baby’s stomach after feeding. If a burp does not happen, that air will be either remain inside the belly or be forced out through the baby’s bottom. Both of those options are far more uncomfortable and maybe even painful than simply letting out a burp. Parents should not obsess over burp, however, because every baby is different and a burp isn’t necessarily needed after each feeding.
If a baby cannot release gas in one way or another for an extended period of time, extreme fussiness and colic could result. Infant-safe, gas relief drops, like those available over-the-counter from PediaCare, may help to clear tummy discomfort caused by excess gas that hasn’t been belched out. Natural gas relief remedies, such as use of ginger can also help relieve infant gas pains. However, gas pain that doesn’t go away or happens after every feeding could be a sign of a more serious medical condition or simply that different type of food or feeding method should be tried.
In this parental guide to gas relief, PediaCare provides resources for parents seeking answers for their child's special circumstances. Medicine made for kids, helps getting better easier!