How to burp a baby

By Published On: January 28th, 2010

You wouldn’t think that something as simple as a burp would be a big deal. You feed baby, pat-pat-burp, and you’re done, right? Well, not always. Burping a baby can be a lot tougher than you might think, and the aftermath of an un-burped baby can be brutal—if his tummy hurts, you’re going to know about it. If you haven’t yet mastered the level of Burping Pro, follow this sound advice for achieving the perfect belch.
burpbabyStep one: Assume the position
There are a few different positions that work well for burping your baby.

  • The over-the-shoulder hold. This is probably the most natural position for the majority of moms. I think we all instinctively put our baby up against our shoulder and pat his back for our first burp attempt.
  • The sitting position. For my kids, this was one of the most successful burp procedures. Sitting with your legs together in front of you, turn your baby so he is sitting on your lap facing one side. Obviously he can’t sit by himself, so he’ll need a good deal of support. Place one hand under his chin to hold his head and body in place and use the other hand to pat or rub his back.
  • The across-the-legs technique. Some babies burp well if you lay them on their stomach across your legs. Essentially, whatever position works for you and your baby is your best bet, although you might find you like to mix it up every now and then—and some stubborn belches might need a mixture of all three techniques.

Step two: Find your confidence
Your new infant is so tiny and fragile that the thought of pounding on his back might put you right over the edge. But believe me when I say that your little guy is tougher than he looks. I am by no means suggesting that you get overly rough with your newest family member, but it does take a firm hand to get a good burp out. Timid pats will get you nowhere with most babies, so be prepared to work up a strong, steady tap to get those potential tummy-hurting gas bubbles out of your baby’s system. The art of burping is a good lesson for parenting: It’s likely one of your first experiences in the challenging knack of constantly being gentle yet firm.
If you’re having trouble burping your baby or aren’t quite sure how hard you should be patting, ask the advice of an experienced mom. You’ll probably be slightly horrified when you first witness her in action, but once you hear that reassuring loud burp rip from your baby’s belly, you’ll realize how effective a strong touch can be.
Step three: Work the burp
Patting isn’t the only way to get a burp out—rubbing your baby’s back also has a good effect on ridding the tummy of discomfort (and in some cases, works much better than the pat). Start rubbing on his lower back (again, not roughly, but not so gently he can’t feel it), and work your way to the top, where the burp will likely work its way loose.
[tip] The first few months, you’ll want to stop mid-feeding and burp your baby to prevent painful gas buildup (every 2 ounces is a good stopping point for bottle-fed babies). After four or five months, it shouldn’t be necessary to break mid-meal any longer—just one burp at the end should do it.