What Is the Best Way to Burp a Newborn?

Having a new-born baby in the house can be a very stressful time, especially if this is your firstborn. How do you know what to do to make them comfortable and happy? If only they came with a user manual! Babies need to be fed, countless diapers changed and put to sleep appropriately to ensure that they thrive and are healthy. An important aspect to having a new-born is learning how to burp the infant in the most effective and efficient way.

What Is the Best Way to Burp a Newborn?

Burping is important to release any air that may be trapped in the baby's tummy. Excessive air in the stomach may cause the baby to have tummy ache, leading to fussiness and discomfort. There are a few tried and tested methods that parents swear by to get baby to burp quickly. Some of the common methods are outlined below:

1. Hold baby upright with her chin on your shoulder. Use one hand to hold her and the other hand to gently pat her back. This position should force the air up and cause the baby to burp out any trapped air.

2. Moving the baby higher so that her tummy is resting on shoulder will gently press her tummy, encouraging the air to release. You can continue rubbing or patting her back. This method works better with an older infant that has better head control. Take care not to push the infant too far over your shoulder that she has trouble breathing.

3. Sit down comfortably with baby sitting on your lap facing in the same direction as you are. Use one hand to support the infant's chest while the fingers of that hand are gently clasping the jaw and chin. Use your other hand to gently rub or pat the infant's back. This is a tricky method especially if you're new to it and the baby is squirming a lot.

4. Lay the infant on your legs facing away from you, while you are seated. Hold the baby's chin and jaw with one hand while the other hand is used to gently pat the baby's back. Ensure the infant is not lying with her head lower than the rest of her body which may cause the blood to flow to her head.

5. Have the baby lie on your one arm (straddling your arm) with your hand gripping the infant. Her head will be resting near the inside of your elbow. This is a good position to still go about your tasks with one hand.

More Tips for Burping a Newborn

  • Stop trying to elicit a burp if you have tried the best way to burp a newborn and she has not burped after a few minutes. This can possibly mean that there is no air to expel.
  • Breastfed babies tend to swallow less air than bottle-fed babies. Different bottles allow different amounts of air to be sucked in–you may want to experiment with a few types of bottles to determine the best type of bottle for your baby.
  • A good guideline for bottle fed babies is to take a burping break halfway through the feed. For breast fed babies, it is advisable to burp them when you are switching breasts.
  • If your baby has fallen asleep during a feed, do not rouse the infant to burp.
  • Usually by the age of 4-6 months, there is no need to burp you baby because she has become more efficient at feeding without taking in excess air.
  • Remember to use a burping cloth to protect your clothes from any spit-up that the baby may expel with the air.

What to Do When Burping Doesn't Work

If the best way to burp a newborn doesn't work for your baby and she still feels uncomfortable, you can try the following measures:

  • You can try doing infant massage to allow the air to move. Rub the tummy in a circular motion while she is on her back. Another massage is to push the legs towards the chin and back to a straight position while the new-born lies on her back. Watch the following video to learn more about massage methods to help your baby relive gas:

  • You may also place the baby on her tummy while awake and her neck is strong enough. But do so under supervision so that the baby does not suffocate on the bedding.
  • Change the type of bottle to one that minimizes airflow into the formula feed.
  • Try some over-the-counter simethicone drops. These may provide some relief by breaking up the air bubbles to allow the air to be expelled easily.

When to Consult a Doctor

  • If the new-born is constipated, has blood in the stools or vomits
  • Excessive fussiness that is not alleviated by any of the above techniques
  • Has a fever

How to Prevent Gassy Tummy

Apart from the best way to burp a newborn, you can also learn to prevent gas accumulation at the first place. Here are what you can do:

  • When bottle feeding, hold the bottle at about 30-40 degrees to ensure the air is at the base of the bottle.
  • Feed your new-born more frequently but in smaller quantities.
  • Ensure the baby is latched onto the whole nipple rather than only the tip.
  • Keep the new-born upright while feeding and even after the feed.
  • Discourage any comfort sucking on pacifiers or empty bottles, which only serves to introduce air into the infant.
  • Breastfeeding mums can eliminate certain foods from their diet, like dairy products. Dairy is often the cause of gas issues in newborn who is being breastfed.
  • When preparing the bottle feed, try not to shake too vigorously because that introduces air into the feed. Instead, allow the feed to stand for a little while to allow the air to escape out of the bottle.
  • Choose the correct nipple for the bottle you're using and the age of the infant. Incorrect nipples will allow too much air in during a feed.