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Burping baby is a common part of baby’s daily routine. But you might wonder, what causes the need for baby to burp, and why do they need assistance to burp?

Burping is caused by the swallowing of air. The most efficient way for the air to be released is through the mouth, but many of baby’s muscles are still developing, which is why they need help to get that air out. The process is an important part of their development, as it helps them to practice healthy digestion. In fact, if baby is not burped, trapped gas in their stomach could give them a belly ache, and even make it hard for them to sleep!

Babies typically need to be burped until about 7-9 months of age. Burping usually occurs after a meal, and the amount of burping may depend on a few different factors. Times when baby may need a little extra burping include:

  • If baby was hungry before feeding, as they may have ingested more quickly, which may cause them to swallow more air.
  • After crying, especially if baby has colic, which is when a healthy baby has a tendency to cry for prolonged periods.
  • When they have a stuffed nose, as they may breathe more through their mouth.

Burping is more than just a release of air—it is very typical for baby to spit up during burping. It is especially common after baby has just had something to eat. Spitting up should lessen over time as baby’s muscles continue to develop. However, if you notice that baby’s spit-up is more vomit-like, with muscle contractions and coming out with force, it’s best to contact a healthcare provider and discuss baby’s digestion, to find the best solutions for your little one.

Notice baby spitting up during post-meal playtime? This just may be a result of overstimulation. Try keeping baby calm during mealtime, feeding them earlier so they aren’t as hungry, and limit playtime to 15-20 minutes (once playtime ends, make sure they have time to calm).

So, how should baby be burped? Well, there’s actually a few different positions to try.

  • Chest position
    • Hold your baby against your chest.
    • Baby’s chin will rest on your shoulder.
    • Support baby with one hand; gently pat baby’s back with the other.
  • Lap position
    • Lay baby on your lap, with baby on their belly.
    • Support baby’s head to ensure it’s higher than their chest.
    • Gently pat baby’s back, or rub baby’s back in a circular motion.
  • Sitting up
    • Hold baby sitting up, in your lap.
    • Support baby’s head and chest by cradling their chin with the palm of your hand.
    • Rest the heel of your hand on your baby’s chest. Be careful to not grab their throat.
    • Use your other hand to pat their back.

Each burping session will typically last a few minutes. If baby still has not burped, change positions and try burping for a few more minutes.

The regularity of burping depends on how your baby is fed: bottle or breast. For bottle-fed babies, burping is recommended every 2-3 ounces (or 60-90 milliliters). For breastfed babies, burping should happen each time mother switches breasts.

If your baby seems to still be gassy, spits up a lot, or seems fussy during feeding, increase the burping regularity to every ounce of formula, or every 5 minutes for breastfeeding.

As baby continues to grow and develop, they will become more independent in their digestion. If you have any concerns, always reach out to healthcare provider with your questions.