If you've ever found yourself in a situation where you're not sure whether you should continue to burp your baby since it seems impossible trying to get a burp out of them, you're not alone.
While newborns will typically have to be burped after every feeding, this will change as your baby eats more solid food and less air is trapped in their belly.
However, with no clear guidelines or rules, it can be tricky for parents to know when to stop burping a baby, or even if having to burp babies is necessary at all. In this article, we've put together some tips and tricks to help you tell when it's time to stop burping your baby.
Why Do Babies Need to Burp?
When babies eat food, they swallow air along with it. This swallowed air accumulates in the baby's stomach and eventually this excess gas needs to be expelled in one way or another- which is what causes burping, along with natural air that's created by their digestive system.
When this happens, babies feel uncomfortable or have gas pains, which typically results in them crying or fussing to let you know that something is wrong.
If they can't get comfortable, their digestive system can cause them to reject the food due to their fussing, resulting in spit up or your baby's belly not feeling great. That's why experts recommends burping your baby to help relieve the air from their recent feeding.
It's recommended to burp your baby after and during feedings. However, if you didn't notice that your baby was gassy and didn't burp them, no research or evidence shows that something terrible would happen. Instead, your baby would just be uncomfortable until the gas is gone, or you might notice extra spit up.
When Can I Stop Burping My Baby?
While parents can typically stop burping most babies by the time they're between 5-6 months old, it really depends on the specific needs of your baby.
Some babies might need a little longer, and some might not need to be burped at all, especially if they're burping on their own. Once they start to move around and walk, they'll typically be able to work through any discomfort they have from gas.
If you're having issues burping your baby, try one of these quick tips:
Try to vary up the positions in which you burp your child if you're not finding any success. Finding a more comfortable position can help parents burp a baby more easily. For example, you can burp a child while sitting, when they're lying on their belly face down, having them sit on your lap, or leaning them up against you.
Use A Gentle Pat To Burp Your Baby
Try to gently pat your baby's back with a free hand. While you might think you need to push harder on your baby's body in order to relieve those gas pains, you'll have more of a result from trying to gently pat the back of your baby. Make sure to use a burp cloth to ensure that no spit up ends up on your clothing.
Pay Attention To The Signs Your Babies Are Giving You
If your baby is already burping without any assistance, they might not need your help at all. Most parents will notice that they can help free the trapped air themselves by changing from one position to another.
Stop Burping Baby Regularly If They Can't Produce A Burp
If you've tried multiple positions and you can't produce a burp, it might be time to try to burp a baby at a later time, or simply skip burping since your baby might not need to burp.
Discomfort Likely Means More Burping Is Necessary
While bottle-fed babies will need to be burped more, you may notice that breastfeeding can reduce the number of gas bubbles that sit in your baby's stomach, resulting in less of a need to burp your baby.
However, breastfeeding alone doesn't mean you won't need to burp your newborn. If your baby is squirming a lot or showing signals of discomfort, you'll likely need to continue burping your baby.
3 Signs That Your Baby Can Burp On Their Own:
If your baby is showing some or all of these signs, they're probably able to burp on their own and don't need your help.
Sitting Up Unsupported
When your child can sit up without any assistance, they'll be able to control their head and body a lot better. In addition, being able to move around will help them expel gas on their own without needing your help. This means that burping after feeding your baby may not be necessary at this point.
No-Fuss After Eating
If your baby starts crying or fussing after eating, it might be because they have gas. When extra air gets stored up, you'll likely need to burp your baby to help relieve the pain.
It's important to remember that projectile vomiting is not necessarily a sign that you need to burp your baby more, it could simply mean that the bottle of milk didn't sit well or they didn't like the food.
However, if you have a happy baby who eats without any fuss afterward, this is a good sign that they're likely able to handle their own gas and don't need to be burped.
Starting To Teethe
When your baby starts teething, they're likely old enough to start burping on their own as well. Teething can cause a lot of extra gas, so this is often when babies begin to self-burp if they haven’t already.
Again, it really depends on your specific situation. For example, sometimes breastfed babies won't need to be burped as often, while others will need to wait until they're eating solid foods.
Again, there is no definitive age as to when you should stop burping a baby. If you're still unsure whether it's time to stop burping baby, talk to your pediatrician, and they'll be able to give you a better idea of where your baby stands in terms of development milestones.
How To Relieve Gas In Your Baby:
If your baby is showing signs of discomfort and you're trying to help them expel gas but burping them isn't quite working, there are a few things you can do. Below, we've listed a few steps you can take to make your baby more comfortable and relieve their gas.
Massage Their Back
One of the easiest ways to relieve gas in your baby is to give them a gentle back massage. This will help relax their stomach muscles and hopefully encourage the air bubbles to move through on their own without needing any further assistance from you.
If this isn't working, you can also try gently jiggling or tapping your baby's tummy while they're lying down on their back. The shaking will help the gas bubbles move around and come out.
Bicycle The Legs
If your baby is having trouble passing gas, trying to bicycle their legs is an easy way to relieve them of this discomfort. While they're lying on their back, take their legs and start to pedal them as if they were riding a bike.
This movement will help to move any bubbles that are stuck through their system so that they can pass them naturally. However, if they resist this or don't want to cooperate with the leg movements, it's best to try a different method.
Use A Different Bottle
If your baby is still struggling with gas after you've tried burping them and using a massage, one of the most effortless ways to relieve their gas is to switch out the tops when bottle feeding. You may need to use a smaller nipple or start bottle feeding with a cap that's angled differently.
Alternatively, for formula-fed babies, you can try using a different formula altogether until your baby's system adjusts. Talk to your pediatrician if you're having any trouble with your baby burping or if you're concerned this might be the cause of your baby's discomfort.
For breastfeeding moms and breastfed babies, you might find that breast milk can also make your baby burp less. However, if you notice an increase in your baby burping, you can help relieve this by trying to switch breasts that your baby is feeding on. If switching breasts doesn't work, you can always try to slow down feeding time by putting the milk into a bottle.
Try Over The Counter Gas Drops
If your baby is showing signs of discomfort and you want to give them an easy way out, try using some gas drops. These will help break up the bubbles so that they don't cause any further distress or pain for your child.
Before using these drops, make sure to talk with a pediatrician first to make sure that they're safe. Not every baby is able to tolerate these drops, so it's important that you make sure they won't have any adverse side effects before using them on your child.
Stick To A Regular Feeding Schedule
If you're worried that your baby is having trouble passing gas or they tend to become gassy with certain foods, try sticking to a regular schedule. This will help keep the air bubbles in their system moving and make it easier for them to pass naturally.
Go For A Walk
If your baby is having a hard time after eating, try going for a walk. The gentle rocking of their stroller will help get their digestion moving and hopefully help them expel the gas that's been bothering them. Typically by the end of the walk, they'll feel completely normal or you'll find a sleeping baby in your stroller.
For parents, it can be confusing to know when burping a baby is necessary and when you'll be able to stop burping your baby altogether.
While burping a baby is an important part of caring for them, at a certain age, your baby will be able to burp on its own without your assistance.
If you notice that it's taking longer than expected or if you have any concerns about your baby having trouble passing gas, talk with your pediatrician and see what can be done about it.