How To Burp A Baby: Why And When To Do It?

Written by Rohit Garoo Experience: 9 years
Last Updated on

A burp is lovable and not annoying. But only if that sound comes from your baby! That all-important burp from your baby gives you an immense satisfaction that he had a good feed. In fact, letting out that gas is so crucial that one of the first things your healthcare provider teaches you in the hospital is how to make a baby burp.

While some experts feel that it is not necessary to burp a baby always, however the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends burping regularly.

But burping is not an easy task to accomplish. It is all in the technique. This is precisely why MomJunction has come up with various ways you can try to burp your baby. If one does not work, try the next!

What Is A Burp?

A burp is a release of gas bubbles from the esophagus through the mouth. Sometimes, burps bring out the contents of the baby’s feed. This maybe semi digested milk. Such are called wet burps or erps.

If you do not burp your baby, he may turn cranky due to the trapped air bubbles. Keep reading to know various other reasons.

[ Read: Why Do Babies Spit Up ]

Why Do Babies Need To Burp?

Whether it is formula milk or mother’s milk, babies swallow air bubbles while feeding. These bubbles get trapped inside the tummy, causing crankiness, spitting up and gassiness in the baby.

Gulping and fussing could indicate that the baby is swallowing air along with milk. If you are breast feeding, the foods you eat could also result in gassiness in the baby. In the newborn period, or up to three months, the mother should take light diet and avoid heavy, spicy, oily food.

  • Burping helps release this trapped gas and enables the baby to settle down and feed longer.
  • Frequent burping helps release the air and frees up room in the baby’s tummy.
  • Burping is helpful if the baby is possetting (regurgitating curdled milk), colicky, and has GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Excessive burping is seen in babies with acid reflux.

You might burp the baby enthusiastically. But it would not serve your purpose if not done at the right time.

When To Burp A Baby?

Burp your baby after a feed or in between the feeding sessions. Some babies burp a lot while some others rarely do.

Therefore, burp the baby whenever he needs it or seems uncomfortable. For instance, if the baby wriggles, squirms, cries, or pulls away during a feed, try to burp him. Babies with gas are generally fussy at night. In general, burp a baby:

  • when you switch between the breasts.
  • half way through the bottle or every 2 to 3oz (60 to 90ml).
  • every 15 to 20 minutes while feeding.
  • If you hear excessive gulping, interrupt the feed and give a burp.
  • Burp your baby more frequently, if he is gassy (1).
  • If your baby is fussy during night, but not interested in taking a feed, he may be gassy. Help him burp.

[ Read : Acid Reflux In Babies ]

Do Bottle-Fed Babies Need More Burps?

Bottle-fed babies tend to suck in a lot of air as compared to breast fed babies. The milk flows faster from a bottle than the mother’s breasts, forcing the baby to take in the air between closely spaced gulps. On the contrary, breastfed babies usually suckle slowly, taking enough time to swallow. Thus, babies feeding on the mother’s milk do not have to burp as often as bottle-fed babies (2).

However, both bottle-fed and breastfed babies can have trapped-in wind. So burping helps! Now comes the big question: “How exactly can I burp my baby?”

How To Burp A Baby?

Burping isn’t an easy task. If you, too, feel the same, then you have not tried the right method yet.

Then how to burp a baby? Do not try to hurry up with burping. Give the baby time to burp. It should be comfortable and effective for both you and your little one. Try one of the burping methods given below:

1. On The Chest or Shoulder

  • Sit straight and hold the baby against your chest.
  • Let his chin rest on your shoulder.
  • The baby should be comfortable.
  • Support your baby’s shoulders and head with one hand, and use the other hand to rub him on the back slowly and smoothly.
  • This will relieve him of the trapped air bubbles.

As an alternative, hold your baby up on your shoulder, so that the tummy is slightly pressed. Support him with one hand and pat rub the back with the other. Create gentle pressure on the tummy to coax the burp out. The position suits well for the baby with head and neck control.

Note that the baby is breathing comfortably.

[ Read: Colic In Babies ]

2. Burping On The Lap

  • Make your baby sit on your lap, facing away from you.
  • Support your baby’s chest with your palm and use fingers to hold his chin and jaw but do not block the throat.
  • Slightly lean the baby forward and rub or pat his back with another hand.

3. Burping With Face Down

Put your baby on your legs with the head facing down, right across knees, at a right angle to your body.

Use one hand to support the baby’s chin and jaw. Keep the head slightly higher than the remaining body to avoid blood rushing to his head.

Pat or gently rub the baby’s back with another hand.


  1. Before you burp your baby, put a burp cloth, an old towel or muslin square on you. Babies spit a little milk during this time, and it is perfectly normal.
  1. Burping a sleeping baby is not different from burping a baby who is awake.

[ Read: Babies Spit Up Through Their Nose ]

After feeding, practice burping for 15-20 minutes. You can try longer to burp a baby, if he has GERD.

If the baby does not burp, then it means he is not ready for it or may not need it. Do it later. But, if he seems uncomfortable, keep burping or shift to a different method. Changing the burping positions helps move gas bubbles.

But what if no technique works? If stroking or rubbing does not work for your little one, try a warm bath or a gentle tummy massage. While massaging, slightly rub your hands over the tummy in a clockwise direction.

When To Seek Medical Advice?

If your baby is upset even after burping, the problem may not be the trapped wind but something else. And if the little one is vomiting in large amounts after feeds, seek immediate medical advice.

Why Do Babies Cry While Burping?

Sometimes, air gets trapped when your baby attempts to burp. This irritates the baby. This could lead to discomfort and crying spells, besides wheezing, pulling the legs, crankiness, irritability, and coughing. These crying spells could range from mild to extreme. Do not panic. Rather try out different techniques until the baby calms down.

Tips To Minimize Gulping Of Air By The Baby

Follow these simple steps to stop the baby from swallowing a lot of air during feeds.

  1. Sitting position: Make your baby sit in an upright position during feeds. Keep the head up.
  1. Pick the right bottle: If you feed your baby using a bottle, use an anti-colic bottle. These bottles are designed to prevent the babies from swallowing air. Also, select a bottle with the right hole size.

[ Read : Philips Avent Anti Colic Bottle ]

  1. Mixing formula: While preparing the formula feed, do not shake the mixture vigorously. Shaking generates air in the bottle. Rather, allow the content in the bottle to settle before giving it to the baby.

Note that neither of these measures can totally prevent the baby from swallowing the air.

[ Read: Steps To Deal Baby Hiccups ]

When Do You Stop Burping Babies?

Burp the little one until he turns six months old. After that, he would learn to suck without swallowing much air and thus outgrow the need for a burp.

There is no fastest way to burp a baby. All you need is some patience and the right technique!

Don’t forget to share your feed-time stories with us in the comment section below.

Now Watch: Burping your baby

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Rohit Garoo is a writer-turned-editor with over 9 years of experience in content writing, editing, and content marketing. He did his bachelors in Science at St. Xavier's College, Hyderabad, and masters in Business Administration at Osmania University.

Read full bio of Rohit Garoo
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