Having a baby entails a lot of additional responsibility, be it financially or time-wise. As each new day passes, the baby learns something new, and so do the parents. This also includes daily routine activities like feeding the baby and making sure that the baby is healthy and happy. Burping is an essential part of the same process. As such, it is important to know how to burp a newborn baby.
What is Burping, and Why is it Important?
Burping plays a very important role for a baby because it serves the purpose of releasing the air trapped in the baby’s stomach. The air that the baby might have swallowed while feeding finds an outlet through burping. As a result of this, the baby experiences less discomfort, crankiness and fewer gas problems. This also creates more place in the baby’s stomach for him/her to feed more effectively and to his/her full potential.
Though the burping requirement and pattern vary from baby to baby, as a general rule, breastfed babies require less burping than bottle-fed babies. This is because bottle-fed babies end up swallowing more air in comparison. Even among bottle-fed babies, the type of bottle used for feeding goes a long way in determining which baby needs to burp more and how often.
When To Burp Your Baby:
Usually, babies need to be burped during the first few months of feeding because they are still learning how to feed effectively. Beyond this point, most babies learn how to swallow less and less air. They also engage in more physical activity, like sitting upright, and, thus, often burp on their own.
Generally, breastfeeding mothers take a break to burp the baby when they switch their breasts. Bottle-feeding parents often take a break to burp the baby depending on the quantity that the babies have been fed. Burping every 60 to 90 millilitres of milk-fed is the usual practice. However, for babies with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), it is advisable to burp every 20 to 30 millilitres.
If the baby experiences discomfort while feeding, tends to be cranky, pulls away or moves uncomfortably, it may be a sign for you to burp your baby right then. However, if the baby seems content and sleeps peacefully during or after the feed, it is okay to let it be. In such a case, one should not force the baby to burp. If a baby suffers from colic symptoms or other spells of prolonged crying, it is natural for him/her to swallow more air while crying. Correct burping techniques go a long way in overcoming this.
How To Burp a Baby?
The dilemma of how to burp a newborn baby often faces parents. Medical experts and paediatricians suggest that there are three different ways to burp a baby. Mothers or guardians may choose the one that suits them and their baby to decide as to which is the best way to burp a baby.
1. Chest or Shoulder Method:
In this method, one may hold the baby in one arm in a manner such that the baby’s chin rests on the shoulder. With the other free arm, you should pat or rub the baby’s back gently and wait for the baby to burp. This position is very comfortable for the baby, and hence, it will be of no discomfort to him/her.
You may also hold your baby higher such that his/her belly rests gently on your shoulder. In such a situation, one must make sure that the baby is breathing normally. One must take care of the baby’s head and neck positions to prevent the baby from any harm.
The parent may place a cloth over their shoulder/back to prevent their clothes from being soiled by baby spit-up.
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2. Baby Sitting on Lap Method:
The parent must place the baby on their lap, facing in the same direction as the parent. One hand must be supporting the baby’s chest, chin and jaw (gently). Slowly and gently, make the baby lean forward and rub/pat his/her back with the other hand. In this case, a bib over the baby’s chest will prevent contamination by spit-up.
3. Baby Laying on Lap Method:
The baby must be laid on the parent’s lap, across the knees, facing downward. Use one hand to support the baby’s chin and jaw, making sure that the head is aligned with the rest of the body lest blood rushes to it. Use the other hand to pat/rub the baby’s back. The parent can use a cloth/bib on their lap to prevent spit-up from spoiling their clothes. This method will work even if you lay the baby on its stomach on the bed, as long as you make sure that the head is not lower than the rest of the body.
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Points To Note:
In each case, the back of the baby must be gently patted instead of pounding hard.
Using a cloth/bib is optional but advisable since it prevents a mess in case the baby spits up.
Roughly shaking a baby while burping instead of gently doing so can cause neurological damage, and thus, care must be taken.
When To Stop Burping Baby?
Another important question that needs to be considered is when to stop burping the baby. After about 4 to 6 months of age, the baby becomes capable of better feeding. As less and less air is swallowed, burping becomes an unnecessary ritual. This is also because the babies become more capable of burping themselves as a result of more activity. They begin to move a little and sit up straight. Also, once the babies start consuming solids and semi-solids, the need for burping usually subsides. However, for babies with recurrent gas and reflux problems, parental burping may be continued for a longer time.
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Ultimately, it is not about how to burp a baby or the best way to burp a baby because the methods and their applicability vary from parent to parent and baby to baby. So it is wise to stick to that method which works best for the baby and the parent.