How to Burp a Baby + 5 Best Positions To Get Them Burping!

by | Apr 16, 2021

Learning how to pick up and burp a baby with a full belly of milk isn’t always easy! They’re so dainty in the beginning and my confidence as a new mother wasn’t fully developed yet.

Plus, is burping even necessary? I mean, we don’t need to be patted on the back to burp after every meal!

If you’re like me when I first started out a few months ago, then read on to learn how to confidently burp your baby!

When To Burp Your Baby

This one is pretty straightforward. Typically you should burp your baby during and after every meal of yummy breastmilk or formula. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends burping baby when mama switches breasts while nursing. If bottle-feeding then pause every 2-3 oz. to get a quick burp. 

For me, I’ve been doing a lot of bottle feeding since I’m unable to produce enough breast milk. I’ve found that pulling the bottle away after every ounce or so is helpful for our son to slow down and catch his breath. If not, he’ll quickly gulp down four ounces of formula and then be left trying to get a huge burp out!! 

Also, if you find baby repeatedly pulling away from the breast, this could also be a sign that they need to take a breather and get a burp out.

Lastly, if you see your baby is colicky or spits up often- these could also be signs that it’s time for a burp!

Why Does Baby Need To Burp?

Why do babies need to burp anyway?

I mean, we adults don’t need to burp after every meal!

Well, it turns out that many babies swallow air as they feed. Now, it’s been said that breastfed babies don’t swallow as much air as bottle-fed babies. But it seems like this is more opinion than based on exact science. 

The trapped air in the stomach takes up space and makes baby feel uncomfortable. This is what colic is. The thing that many parents fear with a newborn and is often the source of the uncontrollable crying!

Why doesn’t this happen in adults as often as babies?

It’s because baby’s upper esophageal sphincter is underdeveloped. Which doesn’t allow them to burp by themselves as easily.

5 Best Burping Positions to Try 

Now there are countless ways to burp a baby. If you search the internet you’ll find all sorts of different positions with just as many names to describe them!

Below I’ve come up with a list of 5 that my husband and I have found to be the most helpful for us. Try these 5 first, and if they don’t work for you- then search for some more!

1. Over the shoulder 

Over The Shoulder Burping

This one is usually my go-to. It’s the most comfortable for me and so far it’s worked very well! 

Pick up baby and place them so their tummy is up against your shoulder. You want baby’s head above your shoulder so you don’t smother them while giving them the ability to move their head feely. 

Gently pat on their back, or rub in circles. Whichever seems to work best.

Another tip is to hold them by their bottom and let their legs hang freely. If you hold them by the legs, it’ll cause them to bend and bunch up. This can restrict airflow and make it more difficult for them to burp!

2. Sitting upright on leg

Sitting Upright On Leg Burping

This method works well for babies that are a little older who have more muscle development. Start by supporting baby’s head and then placing them sitting upright on your leg. 

As they’re sitting, be sure to keep their back straight. This keeps their windpipe clear so they have an easier time burping!

The last step is to bounce your leg slightly. The idea is that the bouncing of the leg mimics a similar movement as patting them on the back. This movement will help them produce a burp.

3. Over the arm

Over The Arm Burping

This one works best for smaller-sized babies! Take one arm and bend it at about a 90-degree angle with your palm facing upward. Place baby on your arm with their tummy facing towards the floor. 

Holding your hand flat, rest their head on your hand. Pat or gently rub baby’s back to help them burp. 

4. Back to stomach

Back To Stomach Burping

Sitting in a chair or rocker, place baby in your lap with their back to your stomach. Ensure that baby’s back is straight allowing for the windpipe to be clear. 

Once baby is in position, begin bouncing lightly. This is a very similar motion as #1.

5. Bicycling

Bicycle Burping Pose

I use this more for pooping and constipation, but it can also work for trying to get a burp out too! 

Place baby on their backs and move their legs in and out, like in a bicycle pedal motion. This gets their torso moving, and with their back straight on the floor it opens up the windpipe to allow that burp to escape more easily!

What to do when Baby just won’t burp?

If you can’t get baby to burp using one of the 5 methods above don’t stress out over it! Here are some additional things you can try….

Try wearing baby

Use a baby wrap to keep baby secure to your chest while you walk around the house. The movement from walking will help baby produce a burp. 

Be sure that baby stays in an upright position and keeps their back as straight as possible. 

Infant massage

Infant Massage Burping Position

Infant massage is one of my favorite things to do! I mentioned earlier that I love using it for constipation– but it works well for trying to get a burp out too.

Lay baby on their back and rub their belly in a clockwise direction. Be sure to not press very hard- that can make it uncomfortable for them.

Don’t do anything!

Sometimes no matter how hard we try our babies just won’t burp. This is totally ok- there’s no need to get concerned. Babies don’t always need to burp. Some suck in less air than others. 

If you’ve tried for 5-10 minutes and still can’t get a burp- just move on mama!

When To Stop Burping Your Baby

The general consensus is that parents can stop burping their babies anytime between 4-9 months. At this point baby’s once underdeveloped esophageal sphincter is now mature enough to be able to function and produce a burp on it’s own.

However, like most things when it comes to babies- there isn’t an exact time or hard rule when something should occur. When to stop burping your baby is no different. 

Some other things to look out for are when babies can sit up on their own and handle solid foods. These are both good indicators that you no longer need to assist baby with burping.  

Not Every Baby Needs To be burped

Mama, please do not stress if your baby did not produce a burp after their last feeding. Not all babies need to be burped!

As mentioned earlier, some babies suck in less air when feeding than others. This would mean that they don’t need to be burped, or at least not as often as other babies. 

According to this study, burping may not even be effective or necessary! 

Not even the “experts” are in agreement on the exact science of burping in babies. Imagine that! 

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to use your intuition as a mother! 

Watch and observe your baby. If they seem uncomfortable and colicky after feeding, try to burp them. If you’ve tried and can’t get them to produce a burp- that’s ok! Don’t get hung up on it and move on. 

Babies are resilient little beings, in the end, they’ll be just fine 🙂 

What burping positions work best for you? Share with us what your favorite burping position is!

Hi there! We're Kelly and Greg!

Hi there! We’re new parents- who are learning as we go! Realizing what it takes to raise kids in today’s crazy world, we strive to live healthier lives while finding natural alternatives to solve everyday problems. The world is complicated! Raising Them Naturally doesn’t have to be.
About Greg & Kelly Quante

About Greg & Kelly Quante

Kelly & Greg Quante are new parents and the creaters of Raising Them Naturally– a blog about preparing for and raising kids naturally! They share their challenges of parenting- and the things they’ve done to overcome them. They created this blog as a way for them to help others along the way.