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Why newborns burp

Newborns burp for the same general reasons adults do. Swallowing air much more frequently during feeding, newborns burp far more often than adults because it takes a while for them to figure out how to regulate swallowing and breathing while feeding. The hungrier they are the more aggressively they will feed and the more likely they are to haphazardly inhale, snort, burp, swallow, and spit up seemingly all at once. But rest assured; this is common. It takes time for them to learn.

How to burp a newborn

Burping your newborn should be a gentle process of patting your baby’s back in order to free the trapped air. Burping is extremely common and will likely occur during or after every feeding for many months of the first year. Because you will be burping him or her so often you will quickly learn what method works best for you and your baby. You will also learn quickly that it is wise to use bibs for your baby and towels for your shoulders. There will occasionally be spitting up and “wet burps”.

Here are three common ways of how to burp a newborn:

  1. Sit upright or stand holding your baby up to your chest. Rest your baby’s chin squarely on your shoulder and support his or her back with one hand. Gently pat your baby’s back, trying different spots, with the other hand. Sitting in a rocking chair or a glider may also help, as well.
  2. Sit your baby up in your lap. Secure your baby’s chest and head by supporting your baby’s chin in the palm of your hand and rest the bottom of your palm on your baby’s chest. Always be sure your baby’s head is safe from any sudden neck movements and make sure no pressure is being put on his or her throat. With the other hand proceed to pat your baby’s back softly until he or she is relieved.
  3. Lay your baby down on your lap with his or her back facing you. Supporting your baby’s head, gently pat his or her back. Be sure your baby’s head is higher than his or her chest.

Your baby will let you know he or she needs to be burped while feeding because they will become fussy. To minimize burping utilize one of the three methods mentioned above to pat your baby’s back for every three ounces of milk or formula they consume (every five minutes if breast feeding), regardless of whether they are burping or not.

What to do about burping complications

Burping complications can lead to him or her being overly gassy for extended periods of time if not burped properly, which creates discomfort. If that discomfort leads to prolonged bouts of crying (colic) then the condition worsens because your baby is now swallowing even more air from all of the fussing.

Colic is defined as three or more hours a day of continuous crying due to gassiness and, as mentioned, only works to exacerbate the gas problem. Colic is something that many parents simply have to deal with in their own special way depending on what makes each baby happy. It is extremely common but be advised using anti-gas drops is not a laboratory proven method to treat colic or gas and your pediatrician should be contacted for the most effective and safest treatments.

Every baby is different and all parents will have a trial period to learn and understand how to burp a newborn, how often to burp him or her in between feedings, and what methods and routines generally make them happiest.

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