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Burping 101

>> Thursday, April 12, 2012

That title really draws you in, eh?

I was surprised when I was pregnant with my second baby and read an article saying that burping a baby wasn't necessary like previously thought. So, I had my baby and decided that article must be true, and didn't burp her after feedings. It took less than a week for me to decide that burping was, indeed, quite necessary. I strongly believe that if your baby has been fed and has a clean diaper, but they are fussy, gas (of some sort) is the problem. Burping a fussy baby has almost always worked for me to calm them. (You never know what burps are still hiding out in their little bellies.)

According to Dr. Sears, there are two important keys to burping a baby. 1) The baby needs to be in an upright position and 2) Pressure needs to be applied to the babies belly. (A step that is very often forgotten.)

Before I share Dr. Sears burping positions, I'd like to share one I learned after the birth of my second baby. After talking to the doctor about how it seemed like she always had gas, the doctor suggested I add a little bounce to my burping method. I would hold my baby while standing, with her head resting on my shoulders, and bounce while lightly patting her on her back. This method always seemed to work much faster and much better than other methods I'd used. But Dr. Sears is an expert, so perhaps you'd rather see his positions instead.

  • Over-the-hand burp. Sit baby on your lap and place the heel of your hand against her tummy, with her chin resting on the top of your hand. Lean baby forward, resting most of her weight against the heel of your hand to provide counter pressure on her tummy, and pat her on the back to move up the air bubbles.
  • Over-the-shoulder burp. Drape baby way up over your shoulder so that your shoulder presses against her tummy, then rub or pat her back. Hold baby securely by hooking your thumb under her armpit. If she's on your right shoulder, do this holding with your right hand.
  • Over-the-lap burp. Drape baby over one thigh (legs crossed or spread) so that it presses upward against her tummy. Support baby's head with one hand while you pat or rub her back with the other hand.
  • The one-arm burp. This position is particularly helpful when you're busy and baby needs to burp. You can simply stroll around the house and have one hand free. The only drawback is that spit-up may go on the floor or down over your arm and baby's legs.
  • Sling burping. If the air just won't come up, place baby upright against your chest and wear her in a sling until the air comes up.
  • Nighttime burping. Burping is often not necessary during night feedings, since babies feed in a more relaxed manner and therefore swallow less air. If a trapped air bubble seems to be causing nighttime discomfort, you can avoid sitting up and going through the whole burping ritual by draping baby up over your hip as you lie on your side.
  • Burp and switch. Some babies are more comfortable if they burp when changing sides. Getting the air up makes room for more milk. This can help avoid large spit-ups when a bubble gets trapped under the milk.
  • Knee-to-chest burp. Sometimes babies need help not only getting air out the top end, but also out the bottom. The knee-chest position (flexing baby's knees up against her chest) helps baby pass excess gas.

And of course, no matter what position you use, it's always wise to make sure you have a burp cloth positioned under your babies mouth.
And I stick to my guns and say no matter what anyone else says, one of the keys to a happy baby is burping them!

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