As a newborn's stomach is around the same size as their fist, there is very little room for both milk and air. So, not only is burping necessary to comfort your baby's stomach, but it also allows more milk in during a feed. For this reason, baby might spit up small amounts of milk during burping.
About the time babies can sit up by themselves, around 6 months of age, they will usually stop spitting up. Be patient while your little one's body grows and matures – they will need a bit of extra help with this simple but essential skill.
What you'll need
- Somewhere to sit
- A cloth, bib or muslin square
There are three main ways to burp your baby.
1. Sitting upHold baby up on your lap or knee. Support their head by holding their chin, then with your other hand gently and rhythmically pat and rub their back. You will probably need a cloth or bib draped over your supporting hand for any spit up.
2. On your chestCradle your baby's bottom and hold them up against your chest with their chin resting on your shoulder. With your cloth or muslin square beneath their chin to catch spit up, gently pat their back. This is a good position to provide extra pressure to baby's abdomen, while also helping them off to sleep.
3. Across your lapRest your baby on their stomach across your lap. Support their head so that it remains higher than the rest of their body – this ensures blood doesn't rush to their head. With the cloth positioned beneath baby's face, gently pat and rub their back.
- Burping need only take a few minutes, and should be done every 60-90 millilitres with a bottle, or whenever you switch breasts.
- Look out for changes in feeding behaviour such as slowing down or getting fidgety. These are good signs baby might need to be burped.
- Since they tend to suck in more air, bottle-fed babies are likely to need more frequent burping than breast-fed babies.
- If baby's spit up seems excessive, try getting them into an upright position for 20-30 minutes after feeding.
- Don't stress out if feeding and burping don't go smoothly at first. Every baby is unique, and through observation and communication, you will work out what methods work best for both of you.