How To Burp A Baby, Plus Tricks For Sleeping & Hard-To-Burp Babies

Everything To Know About Burping Your Baby (Even When They’re Sleeping)

November 17, 2020 Updated July 29, 2021

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Let’s be real: We all feel better after a solid belch, right? Your little one may not be talking yet, but if they could, they’d say, “Same.” In fact, it’s super-important for baby, because they can’t help swallowing air when they’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding (okay, sometimes from crying fits, too). And all those tiny trapped air bubbles may make your lovebug so uncomfortable and full-feeling from the pressure that they don’t want to finish their meal! So, the question of the hour is this: How do you burp a baby? You know, the right way. Because believe it or not, there’s an art to baby burping.

While burps aren’t exactly known for being the most endearing sound, they sure do manage to be charming when they come out of your child’s precious little face. And since you’ll know that you’re providing them with relief from potential stomach aches from gas pain, the sound will be that much sweeter every time you elicit a hearty “buuurrp” from your baby.

But like burps themselves, every baby, and even every meal, can require different approaches to burping. That’s why it’s a good idea to master various baby burping techniques. When one way doesn’t seem to be working — but you just know the baby needs to let some air out — switch up the baby’s position.

The standard over-the-shoulder is a good beginner technique because it’s effective and helps you support that floppy little head (it’s heavy!). Over-the-shoulder is also a great go-to when a little bouncy action helps to soothe your baby. Dads tend to favor this position. A slightly more complicated approach is the lap burp, with the baby facedown and turned sideways with the head on one thigh and belly on the other.

If those fail, sitting the baby up to burp them is the third option. Sit them up on your lap, lean them slightly forward and let your hand support their head and upper body and the other to pat.

Of course, many parents and caregivers have their own variations on these, depending on what their little one needs. But a few guidelines will help any stressed-out parent find the way that works best for them. Let’s get to it then!

How long should you burp a baby?

Like most things parenting, there’s no set rule for how long you should burp a baby. A couple of minutes should be enough. If the baby doesn’t burp after all your go-to tricks, go ahead and keep feeding.

According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s more important to focus on the number of times you burp a baby during a feeding. They say frequent burping throughout feeding is better to “keep the air from building up in your baby’s stomach.”

What happens if baby doesn’t burp?

When those gas bubbles baby sucks in can’t escape, they just hang around taking up space — space your little one needs for their full meal. Plus, trapped gas (as you probably know) can be downright painful.

That trapped gas may very well be caused by bacteria breaking down certain foods in the large intestine. Since this includes food passed to baby through mama’s breast milk, you may want to avoid these types of foods. A few examples? Broccoli, beans, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts on the food side. As far as beverages go, soda and fruit drinks could be culprits.

How do you burp a baby fast?

How fast your baby expels that excess air isn’t exactly something you can control. Even the frequency of burping will vary from child to child. Some babies hardly burp at all because they simply swallow less air. Some babies only take a few light pats on the back to let out an envious belch.

But there are also hard-to-burp babies that may require a bit more coaxing to get that burp out. In general, if your baby hasn’t burped within a few minutes of trying, you may need to try again later. Or, at the very least, switch burping methods (more on that in a minute).

What should you do if baby won’t burp?

It’s no biggie! If your baby isn’t spitting up and doesn’t want to burp, Dr. Cindy Gellner from the University of Utah assures patients the gas will find its way out one way or another. “If not out the top end, then it comes out the bottom end,” she said.

Dr. Gellner calls worries that a baby not being adequately burped will develop stomach problems an “old wives tale.” She points out a study from 2014 on the relationship between colic symptoms, spitting up, and burping that found babies are just as fussy whether burped or not.

Is it OK to put baby to sleep without burping?

The goal should always be to burp your baby when feeding time is over. Having said that, parenting means accepting that things — many, many things — won’t always go according to plan. You may have one of those babies who just doesn’t burp often. On the other hand, or rather end, your little one might release their trapped gas in the form of a toot.

If you do put baby to sleep without burping, you may be awoken in the middle of the night by a gassy, uncomfortable baby. The mere act of picking them up could be enough to get rid of the overdue burp. If not, try one of the following popular burping positions for a few minutes.

Over-the-Shoulder

When you think of burping a baby, this may very well be the position you’re picturing. Here, you rest baby’s chin or belly on your shoulder (but the latter only once baby has good head/neck and breath control). Use one hand to support and hold your little one in place, while simultaneously using the other to gently pat baby’s back.

Sitting Up

With this position, you’ll situate your baby either sitting up in your lap or on your knee. You want to support their chest and head with one hand (you sort of cradle baby’s chin in your palm), being mindful not to grip baby by the throat. With your free hand, pat your baby’s back.

Tummy Down on Lap

Think of this sort of like the superman or airplane — with you in a seated position, lay baby down across your knees. Support their head with one hand, making sure it’s higher than their chest. Then simply use your free hand to pat baby’s back.

How do you burp a baby that is hard to burp or sleeping?

Does your baby want to nap after every feeding sesh, making it tricky to get a good burp in? Well, here’s some good news: You can still burp baby in all the normal ways while they’re sleeping. When baby’s milk wasted, they probably won’t even open their eyes — but the burp may still work its way out.

So, what should you do if you have a seemingly burp-resistant baby? For starters, remember that your little one may just not be much of a burper. As long as they don’t seem uncomfortable and they’re eating enough, that’s okay. If you’re ever concerned, though, just ask baby’s doctor for pointers at your next visit.

When do you stop burping a baby?

Once your baby is sitting up, they will learn to eat without swallowing as much air. According to the Mayo Clinic, the muscle between the stomach and the esophagus that keeps what’s in baby’s tummy from coming up fully develops anywhere from 4 to 9 months.

But again, you know your baby better than anyone. Experts agree to keep burping them until they stop getting fussy and spitting up after eating.

Are there any other baby burping pointers?

Arguably the best advice we can offer when it comes to burping your baby is to be patient. It might take a while for both of you to get into a good burping groove. And during any given burping session, you may have to switch positions. Other than that, just don’t forget to grab a burp cloth in case anything comes up or out (wet burp, our old nemesis).