It’s late at night, and you’ve been patting your little one on the back for what seems like forever hoping for a burp. You’re beyond frustrated and the only thought running through your mind is how much longer you have to keep trying.
Does this scenario sound familiar? Burping your baby can seem like a game without clear rules. When to do it? For how long? When can you stop? These are all questions that have probably crossed your mind at some point (particularly late at night when you want to go back to bed!)
We understand that it’s no fun trying to play a game when you don’t know the rules, so we’re here to help. (Not with the late-night bottles though. Sorry, that’s all you!)
While only you can make the decision on when to not burp (or burp) your baby, we’ve got you covered with some information about burping and some tips to help your baby if gas keeps making them upset. So, before you lose any more sleep…
One reason why you may feel you’ve never gotten a clear answer about burping is that every baby is unique and their individual needs will be different.
When a baby eats, they also take in some air. (Breastfed babies typically take in a little less air, but no matter how you feed your baby, they’ll take some air in along with their food.) This air can leave your little one feeling gassy and uncomfortable if it doesn’t find its way out.
It’s recommended that newborn babies be burped between breasts if breastfeeding and every 2 to 3 ounces if bottle feeding. However, burping may need to happen more or less frequently depending on your particular child’s needs.
In general, you can stop burping most babies by the time they are 4 to 6 months old, according to Boys Town Pediatrics in Omaha, Nebraska.
Babies can be burped in many ways and while being held in a variety of positions. If you feel that your baby needs to burp, but are not having success with one position, it can be useful to try switching techniques!
Many newborn parents burp their baby, because they worry that their little one won’t be able to release gas on their own. However, some babies burp easily on their own or seem less gassy in general. It may not be necessary to burp your baby at all during a feed.
If you dread burping your baby frequently, there is also research on your side. According to
So, what if you want to burp your baby, but it’s taking forever for a burp to come out?
If your baby hasn’t burped after a minute or so of trying, you can probably move on or try again later. There’s a good chance that your baby just doesn’t need to burp right then.
By keeping an eye out for any signs of discomfort (e.g., squirming, pulling away), you’ll quickly figure out when your baby needs a little extra help.
Sometimes burping your little one may not be enough to relieve their discomfort. If your baby seems uncomfortable from gas there are plenty of other options beyond burping you can try. These include:
Bicycle their legs
Laying your child on their back and moving their legs like they are pedaling a bicycle can help gas work its way out. (Poop can also sometimes find its way out with this technique if your little one is working to push it out!)
Proponents of massaging babies say it might improve infants’ circulatory and digestive systems, which can potentially help with gas and constipation. That said, there’s little scientific research to back these claims.
Even if this isn’t the magical solution for your child, massage can be very calming for both babies and parents. There’s nothing like touch to help bond with your child!
Change the nipple flow on their bottle
If you are using a bottle to feed your baby, nipple size might be causing your little one to take in some extra air. A nipple that’s releasing milk too quickly or slowly could have your baby gulping for air or getting extra air out of the bottle.
By adjusting the nipple size up or down, you may notice your baby starts feeling a little better.
No particular type of bottle has been proven to be the best at reducing colic, eliminating acid reflux, or lessening gas and spit-ups. However, there are some brands that focus on venting and air control measures that may prove helpful for your little one’s stomach.
Use premixed formula
Switching up formulas might be worth a try if your little one’s stomach always seems to be hurting. Sometimes the solution is even as easy as switching to a premixed version of the formula you’re already using in powder form. Talk to your baby’s pediatrician before changing to soy or other types of formula, though.
If you’re breastfeeding or feeding breast milk in a bottle instead of formula, it might be worth talking to your doctor (or your baby’s pediatrician) about your diet if you notice your little one reacting with stomach or bowel problems within a few hours of breastfeeding sessions.
Talk to your doctor about OTC treatments
Before using gripe water or gas drops on your child, it’s important to check with your doctor. While unlikely, there is a chance that your child could have an allergic reaction, and ingredients can differ greatly from brand to brand (particularly if you intend to use gripe water), so getting your doctor’s seal of approval is important.
It’s also important to remember that no over-the-counter (OTC) option is proven to be effective for all babies. Whether an OTC treatment will work is very individual. (No offense meant to the particular brand that got a glowing recommendation from another mom down the street!)
If you little one’s burps include excessive spit-up, projectile vomiting, or your baby seems to be in distress when burping, it’s important to check in with their doctor who can help you rule out other possible causes including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Your child’s doctor can also discuss ways to help your baby’s particular symptoms.
When it comes to burping, every baby is different. While some babies will require treatment for acid reflux and plenty of upright time after feeds, others will release their gas before you even have a chance to burp them.
As a result of how individual babies are, there’s no one right answer when it comes to burping — or when to stop burping. Over time, you’ll learn what your specific baby (or babies) requires to feel their best.
Your knowledge of your baby will guide you in determining how frequently they need to be burped and when they no longer need it.
If you find that your baby seems in distress during or after feeds despite your best attempts to alleviate their gas, it may be time to speak with their doctor. They can help you to rule out or treat any other potential problems.