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What To Do if Your Baby Won’t Burp

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Article by:

Cara Dumaplin

RN, BSN, Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant

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Light and bright white image of parent attempting to burp a young baby.

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Do you have a baby who won’t burp? Let’s walk through my top tips for burping your newborn baby and what to do if your baby won’t burp.

Do you have to burp a baby? anchor

While there is no “rule” that you have to burp a baby, it’s typically recommended in those early months. When babies eat, they often take in or swallow extra air which can cause a buildup of gas in their bellies. This can lead to discomfort and a higher chance of spit up. Especially in the newborn months, burping can be helpful.

Expert Tip: Most babies will outgrow the need for burping by about 4-6 months.

How do I burp my baby?anchor

Babies (especially newborns) tend to do best when burped both during (about halfway through) and after a feeding. 

Here are 3 burping positions to try:

  1. Up on your shoulder. This is likely what you picture when you think of burping your baby. In this position, you want to make sure that your baby’s chest is at your shoulder height with their knees tucked in towards their belly. Give your baby pats on their back until you hear the burp.

  2. Sitting position on your lap. Place your baby so they’re sitting in your lap. Support your baby’s head by using the “C” hold under your baby’s chin. Using your other hand, gently but firmly pat your baby’s back. 

  3. Laying across your lap. Lay your baby face down with their belly across your legs. Pat their back until you hear the burp. For a newborn without strong head control, it’s okay for their head to rest on your leg while older babies may be looking all around!

Expert Tip: If your baby won’t burp with patting, try applying upward pressure. In any of these positions, you can gently and firmly apply upward pressure along your baby’s back.

Want to see this in action?

Expert Tip: If your baby won’t burp in one position, lay them down for a few seconds and then pick them back up. Often, this movement will help free up the gas in the belly to be released.

Regardless of which position works best for burping your baby, here are some tips to remember:

  • Have a burp rag placed either on your shoulder or your lap to catch any unexpected spit up.

  • When patting your little one’s back, always start lower down by their diaper and work your way up their back.

  • Cup your hand when patting your baby’s back. You’ll be able to hear these pats, but when done gently, it will not hurt them.

Be sure to follow Taking Cara Babies on Instagram for even more tips, tricks, and free resources! 

How do I burp a baby with reflux?anchor

For babies with reflux, the goal is to keep your baby’s head elevated above their tummy for 15-30 minutes following a feeding. With that in mind, any of these positions can be an option. (Notice that even when a baby is laying across your lap, thier head can be elevated.)

Keep in mind that each baby is so different. You might find one position more helpful or one position puts more pressure on your baby’s tummy causing an increase in spit-up so, try them all and then find what works best for YOUR baby.

How long does it take to burp a baby? How long should I try to burp my baby? anchor

Every baby will be different in how long it takes them to burp. After some feedings, your baby will let out a burp as soon as you put them to your shoulder, while other times, it may take longer.

If your baby hasn’t burped after 3-5 minutes of trying, it’s okay to continue their feeding and try again when the feeding is done, or try again in a few minutes. 

Even if you don’t hear a loud burp, oftentimes the process of trying to get the burp out is enough to relieve gas or discomfort for your baby. 

How do you burp a baby when they are sleeping?anchor

If your baby has fallen asleep during a feeding, you’ll want to burp them before laying them down for sleep. The good news is that most babies will sleep right through the burping, and then you can lay them down into their crib or bassinet. 

Use the burping position that works best for your baby when they are awake. When you burp a sleeping baby, pay extra attention to supporting their head. 

If you’ve found that feeding is the only way to get your little one to sleep, I can help. In my newborn class, I’ll teach you no-cry strategies to establish healthy sleep habits, get longer stretches of sleep at night, and work towards falling asleep independently.

Why won’t my baby burp after feeding? anchor

It depends. Truly, some babies simply don’t need to burp as much as others because they don’t take in a lot of air while feeding. This becomes especially common as babies get closer to 4-6 months. If you've tried for a few minutes and your baby won't burp, it's ok to stop burping as long as they seem comfortable.

However, if your baby shows signs of gas pains (fussing, crying out, or bringing knees to chest) or frequently spits up, keep trying for another few minutes to get that burp out. Move your baby into different positions or try some additional techniques to release gas discomfort

How can I burp a baby that won’t burp?anchor

If you are having a hard time burping your baby, here are a few ideas: 

  1. Try a different position.

  2. Make sure you are patting firmly enough with a cupped hand.

  3. Alternate between patting your baby’s back and rubbing their back in a circular motion.

  4. Wait a few minutes and then try again.

Expert Tip: If you have a little one who struggles with trapped gas, tummy massages, tummy time, and bicycle leg exercises are all great ways to help relieve the gas.

What if my baby won’t burp but spits up? anchor

This does happen. I want to reassure you that spit up is often normal.

If your baby is spitting up after feedings, try these tips:

1. Keep your baby upright for 10-15 minutes following a feeding.

2. Keep your baby’s head higher than their tummy during a feeding.

3. Ensure your baby has a proper latch while feeding to reduce air intake.

Expert Tip: If your baby appears to be in pain when spitting up or is often difficult to soothe, talk with your pediatrician. This can be a sign that your baby needs extra help or may be struggling with reflux or another discomfort.

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