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When Baby Won’t Burp: A Parent’s Guide – Deadline News


Every parent knows that feeding time involves more than just a bottle with cereal for babies or a breast. Those tiny little burps that follow are equally important. But what if your baby doesn’t burp? Understanding the why, what, and how of baby burping can help soothe those post-feeding jitters.

Photo by Zach Lucero on Unsplash

This guide dives into the art and science of baby burping, demystifying the reasons some babies might not burp after feeding and offering insights into the importance of this seemingly simple post-feed routine.

Burping After Feeding – Why We Do It

Burping serves as a crucial post-feeding ritual for infants, primarily due to their developing digestive systems. As babies feed, either from a breast or bottle, they often swallow air along with the milk. This swallowed air can lead to discomfort, an unsettled feeling, or even symptoms of gas and colic. By aiding in the expulsion of this trapped air through burping, we ensure that their tummies remain comfortable, which in turn aids in the efficient digestion of milk or formula.

Beyond the physical benefits, burping sessions during feeds can inadvertently prevent overfeeding. Pausing for a burp allows the baby’s stomach a brief moment to sense its fullness level, mitigating the chances of consuming excess milk. Additionally, burping can reduce the likelihood of reflux and the associated spit-up, a common issue given the immaturity of an infant’s digestive system. This not only spares parents frequent clean-ups but also contributes to the overall well-being of their baby.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that burping provides an understated bonding opportunity. The gentle pats and soothing sounds shared between a parent and baby during this time can further nurture their emotional connection, making those moments invaluable.

Reasons Why Your Baby Won’t Burp

Several reasons can lead to a baby not burping after feeding:

While the act of burping might seem straightforward, there are various reasons why some babies may not burp after feeding. Understanding these reasons can help alleviate parental concerns and guide the approach to ensure the baby’s comfort.

Efficient Feeding Technique

One of the primary reasons babies swallow air is due to an inefficient latch or feeding technique. If your baby has mastered the art of latching onto the breast or bottle nipple correctly, they might be swallowing minimal air, which reduces the need to burp.

Matured Feeding Patterns

As babies grow and become more accustomed to feeding, they naturally become better at it. Older babies, especially those nearing their first birthday, might not need to burp as frequently as they once did. You can read about nutrition extensively at Else Nutrition

Type of Feeding Bottle

The design of certain feeding bottles minimizes the amount of air a baby swallows. If you’re using an anti-colic bottle or one with a venting system, your baby might be swallowing less air, hence the reduced need to burp.

Relaxed State

A baby who’s calm and relaxed during feeding is less likely to gulp down air. If your baby is feeding at a steady pace without fussing, they might ingest less air.

Digestive Development

Just as each baby develops at their own pace in terms of milestones, their digestive systems also evolve uniquely. Some babies might naturally expel gas through flatulence rather than burping.

Infrequent Air Swallowing

Not all babies swallow a significant amount of air while feeding. Those who don’t might not feel the urge to burp post-feed.

Individual Preferences

Just as adults have distinct digestive behaviors, so do infants. Some babies might simply prefer to release trapped air through other means, like passing gas, rather than burping.

Signs Your Baby is Struggling To Burp

While babies might not always burp post-feed, certain signs can indicate they’re struggling with trapped air:

  • Rejection of feed: Your baby might refuse to continue feeding due to discomfort. You may notice this during feeds or as you are starting a new feed.
  • Visible Discomfort: One of the most telling signs is when your baby shows signs of discomfort or distress. This can manifest as them squirming or wriggling more than usual. They may appear restless and might not settle into a calm state, especially after feeding.
  • Crying After Feeding: While it’s common for babies to cry for a myriad of reasons, continuous crying shortly after feeding can be an indicator of trapped air. The pain or discomfort caused by this trapped gas can lead to prolonged and intense crying sessions.
  • Arching the Back: If your baby arches their back during or after feeding, it might be a sign of a burping issue or even reflux. Babies instinctively do this to stretch and release some of the discomfort they might be feeling due to the trapped air.
  • Bloated Tummy: Feel your baby’s abdomen. If it feels notably hard or bloated after a feeding, it could mean they have trapped air in their stomach. This rigidity can cause them discomfort, further emphasizing the need for burping.
  • Frequent Waking: If your little one wakes up more frequently than usual or struggles to get a long stretch of sleep after feeding, it might be because they’re feeling the effects of not burping properly. The discomfort can interrupt their rest, causing more frequent and shorter napping periods.
  • Pulling Legs Up: Babies, in an attempt to relieve the discomfort or pain, might frequently pull their legs up towards their tummy. This fetal position can momentarily alleviate some of the tension in their abdomen.
  • Gassiness and Flatulence: If your baby is passing more gas than usual from the other end, it can be an indicator that they’re retaining air in their stomach. While it’s normal for babies to pass gas, excessive flatulence can be a sign of trapped air that they are unable to release through burping.

How to Initiate Burping

If your little one struggles to burp, these methods might help:

Successfully initiating a burp often depends on the method employed, combined with the individual temperament and needs of the baby. Here’s a deeper dive into common burping methods:

Over-the-Shoulder Method

  • How to do it: Hold your baby so that their chin rests on your shoulder. Support their bottom with one hand, while the other gently pats or rubs their back.
  • Why it works: This method uses gravity to assist in expelling the trapped air. The baby’s stomach presses slightly against your shoulder, promoting the release of air.
  • Tips: Ensure their head and neck are supported. Using a burping cloth on your shoulder can be handy in case of spit-ups.

Sitting-on-the-Lap Method

  • How to do it: Sit your baby on your lap, facing away from you. Use one hand to support their chest and under their chin (avoid pressing on the throat). With your other hand, gently pat or rub their back.
  • Why it works: This position helps in straightening the baby’s back, which can encourage the trapped air to move upwards.
  • Tips: Always ensure the baby’s head is supported and slightly leaning forward to prevent any discomfort.

Face-Down on the Lap Method

  • How to do it: Lay your baby face-down across your lap, ensuring their head is higher than their chest. Gently pat or rub their back with your free hand.
  • Why it works: The gentle pressure exerted on the baby’s stomach in this position can aid in releasing the trapped air.
  • Tips: Keep an eye on your baby’s comfort. If they seem to be uneasy or distressed, it might be best to switch to another method.

Gentle Bounce

  • How to do it: While supporting your baby over your shoulder or sitting them on your lap, gently bounce your legs or sway from side to side.
  • Why it works: The gentle rhythmic motion can help to move the trapped air bubbles, making it easier for them to escape.
  • Tips: Ensure the motion is gentle. Excessive or abrupt bouncing can cause discomfort.

Tummy Massage

  • How to do it: Lay your baby on their back and gently massage their tummy in a circular motion, moving outwards from the belly button.
  • Why it works: A gentle massage can stimulate the digestive system and help move along trapped air bubbles.
  • Tips: Use soft pressure and observe your baby’s reactions. If they seem to enjoy it, it could also become a soothing post-feed routine.

Every baby is unique, and while burping is a general recommendation, it’s essential to be in tune with your little one’s needs. Remember that it’s perfectly normal for some babies not to burp every time. But if you’re ever in doubt about your baby’s feeding or burping patterns, it’s always a good idea to consult with a pediatrician or child health specialist.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it okay if my baby doesn’t burp after every feed?

Yes, some babies might not need to burp after every feeding. Trust your intuition and watch for signs of discomfort.

What if my baby falls asleep and doesn’t burp?

If your baby falls asleep without burping, it’s alright. They might burp once they move, or they may not need to burp at all.

How long should I try to burp my baby before giving up?

Typically, trying for around 5-10 minutes should suffice. If your baby doesn’t burp within that time but shows no discomfort, it’s okay to let them be.

Are there any complications from not burping?

While not dangerous, not burping can lead to discomfort due to trapped air. In rare cases, excessive trapped gas can cause colic-like symptoms.


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