If you’re a new mother with several questions about how and why your baby must be burped, we have the answers.
By Dr Rahul Nagpal
Have you seen mothers putting babies over their shoulder and giving them a rub down the back? Ever wondered why they did that? That is nothing but the process of helping the baby let out the gas formed in her tummy by way of a little burp.
Burping helps to get rid of some of the air that babies tend to swallow during feeding. In some babies, not being burped frequently and too much swallowed air can lead to spitting up, crankiness, and a feeling of gassiness
It's true that breastfed babies typically don't need to be burped as often as bottle-fed babies. It's also true that some breastfed babies need not be burped at all because they do not swallow as much air as bottle fed babies.
When burping your baby, repeated gentle patting on your baby's back should do the trick—there's no need to pound hard. To prevent messy clean-ups when your baby spits up or has a ‘wet burp,’ you might want to place a towel or bib under your baby's chin or on your shoulder.
Try experimenting with different positions for burping that are comfortable for you and your baby. Many parents prefer to use one of these three methods:
1. Sit upright and hold your baby against your chest. Your baby's chin should rest on your shoulder as you support the baby with one hand. With the other hand, gently pat your baby's back. Sitting in a rocking chair and gently rocking with your baby while you do this may also help.
2. Hold your baby sitting up, in your lap or across your knee. Support your baby's chest and head with one hand by cradling your baby's chin in the palm of your hand and resting the heel of your hand on your baby's chest (but be careful to grip your baby's chin, not throat). Use the other hand to pat your baby's back gently.
3. Lay your baby on your lap on his belly. Support your baby's head and make sure it's higher than his or her chest. Gently pat your baby's back.
If your baby seems fussy while feeding, stop the session, burp your baby, and then begin feeding again. Try burping your baby every 2 to 3 ounces (60 to 90 ml) if you bottle-feed and each time you switch breasts if you breastfeed.
If your baby tends to be gassy, spits a lot, has gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or seems fussy during feeding, try burping her every ounce during bottle-feeding or every 5 minutes during breastfeeding. If your baby doesn't burp after a few minutes, change the baby’s position and try burping for another few minutes before feeding again. Always burp your baby when feeding time is over.
If your baby is not burped correctly, she may develop GERD. Check this article for more details.
For the first 6 months or so, keep your baby in an upright position for 10 to 15 minutes (or longer if your baby spits up or has GERD) after feeding to help prevent the milk from coming back up. But don't worry if your baby spits sometimes. It's probably more unpleasant for you than it is for your baby.
Sometimes, your baby may awaken because of gas—simply picking your little one up to burp might put him or her back to sleep. As your baby gets older, you shouldn't worry if your child doesn't burp during or after every feed. Usually, it just means that your baby has learned to eat without swallowing excess air.
The author is a Director & HOD (Paediatrics &Neonatology), Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital, Vasant Kunj.
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