For many new parents, burping a baby can be a challenge. Some babies seem to burp effortlessly, while others hardly ever let out a burp, no matter how long, or hard their parents try. If your baby won’t burp, don’t despair. There are a few things you can do to help encourage a burp.
First, try different burping positions. Many parents find it helpful to hold their baby upright on their shoulder or lap and gently pat or rub their back. You can also try sitting your baby up in a semi-reclined position and supporting their chest and head as they lean forward slightly. Be sure to support your baby’s head and neck in whichever position you choose to avoid injury. Below are other burping techniques you can try.
In addition to finding the proper position, it can also be helpful to wait until after your baby has eaten to attempt a burp. This gives the gas bubbles time to build up, making it more likely that your baby will let out a satisfied burp. With a bit of patience and trial and error, you’ll soon be a pro at helping your baby burp.
Guide to Burping Positions
1. Over the Shoulder
When you burp your baby over your shoulder, you want to make sure you always put a burp rag on your shoulder. You never know when they might spit up. I love the extra-wide muslin burp cloths. They are super absorbent and soft.
With this technique, you gently place your baby over your shoulder and alternate between patting and rubbing their back. Place your baby so their belly is resting against your breast or shoulder, so there is a little pressure to help expel air bubbles. Don’t bounce as you burp; that can lead to your baby spitting up.
2. Sitting Up on Lap
With your baby sitting on your lap, lean them over with one hand supporting their head and chest. Gently rub and pat their back to coax out gas bubbles with your other hand. Don’t forget to have a burp rag over your hand or at the very least nearby.
3. Face-Down on Lap
With this burping technique, lay baby across your legs. Make sure your legs are parallel, and both feet are on the ground. Your baby’s tummy should be on one leg, and the baby’s head should turn sideways on the other.
A burp cloth should be over the leg that has your baby’s head. With one hand, support your baby to make sure they don’t roll. Take your other hand and gently pat their back to burp baby. Alternate with rubbing their back in circular motions.
4. Over the Arm
This burping technique works better once your baby has a little bit of head control. You have your baby hanging over your arm with your arm across your baby’s stomach.
Their back is up against your belly, and you are carrying them in front of you, facing out. Place your other hand under their bottom to support them. Then walk around. The natural movement and slight pressure on their belly push their burps out.
What do I do if my Baby Won’t Burp?
If you have tried all of the traditional favorites on getting baby to burp and still have no luck, you may need to try other tactics. The next three techniques help any trapped air inside that may be built up come out. It may come out as a burp or a fart.
5. Massage the Burp Out
Place your baby face down either on your lap, a blanket on the floor, or a changing table. Start the massage at the top of your baby’s neck and run your hand down their back to the top of their bottom.
Repeat a few times, swooping down their backside. Use a moisturizing baby lotion or coconut oil, so your hands glide smoothly over their skin. Switch to the sitting up burping technique.
Change your baby’s position to have them sit up and pat their upper back to coax out a burp. If you are not successful yet, repeat the swooping back massage. Try a little more pressure this time. Repeat a couple of times, or until they burp, alternating between the back rub and sitting up.
6. Knee to Chest
Start with the burping technique with your baby on your lap. Have their back up against you. Support their chest and head with one arm and hand. With your other hand, hold both of their feet and ‘crunch’ their legs up to their chest, bringing their knees up.
Repeat the process a couple of times. Alternate with then patting their back like the traditional burping technique. Don’t forget to keep a burp cloth close by in case it becomes a wet burp.
7. Bicycle Baby’s Legs
If your baby is showing discomfort and gas signs, they may have trapped gas that you can’t burp out. Try baby bicycle kicks. Lay your baby on their back and circle their legs as if they were riding a bike. This helps any air that may be trapped move along and come out.
When should you burp your baby?
It is important to burp your baby during and after every feeding due to baby’s swallowing air during eating. Burping them can get rid of any air that they have sucked in during eating. Not burping your baby can cause gas to become trapped and makes for an uncomfortable baby.
Few Tips for Breastfed Babies
If your baby is breastfed, there are a few things you can do to help them burp. First, try burping them in a comfortable position. You’ll want to hold your baby upright with their head resting on your shoulder. Their tummy should be pressed against your chest. This position puts as much pressure on their tummy as possible, which will help release the air bubble.
When you are breastfeeding you want to pause and take a minute to burp your baby when you switch breasts. If they don’t burp right away they may not be ready to burp yet. That is okay as long as you try burping them to make sure they don’t have air trapped.
However, if you notice your baby squirming or pulling away from your breast while nursing, this may indicate they need to burp. Please take a minute to burp them before continuing to nurse.
You can also try sitting them on your lap with their head and back supported. Again, you’ll want to make sure their tummy is secure against your body. If you’re having trouble getting a good burp, you can try gently massaging your baby’s back in a circular motion. This can help to release the trapped air.
If your baby won’t burp after breastfeeding, try changing positions or walking around. The movement can help a burp come out. If that still doesn’t help, wait a little bit and try again after a bit of time.
Helpful Tips for Bottle Fed Babies
There are a few things you can do to help prevent bottle fed babies from getting too much air. First, be sure to burp them often. You’ll want to do this after every 2-3 ounces of formula or breast milk.
Another tip is to hold your baby upright while they drink. This will help keep the air bubbles from going into their tummy. Finally, if you notice your baby is having trouble drinking, try changing the nipple to a slower flow rate. This will help them control the amount of milk they’re taking in and hopefully prevent them from getting gas.
Burping frequently can reduce spit-up and uncomfortable gas later on. So when your baby is having a bottle take a minute when they have had a few ounces to burp them before they continue eating.
Why isn’t baby burping?
One reason why your baby isn’t burping easily is that you may be patting your baby too high on their back. Try patting them lower and a little to the left. That is where your little one’s stomach is located.
If your baby won’t burp but spits up, this is normal. They are most likely burping, and you don’t realize it. When they are eating, the air gets trapped under the milk. When the air bubble comes out, so does some milk. They burped out an air bubble, but it looks like a spit up instead. Try burping them after they spit up to make sure there isn’t any additional air that needs to come out.
If your baby won’t burp and has gas, it may be because the air has already traveled down too far to come out as a burp. Now it needs to come out as a fart. You can help gas along by bicycle kicking their legs, giving them a massage, or moving around while you babywear.
Prevent excess gas
There are a few things you can do to help prevent excess gas in your baby. First, try feeding them smaller meals more often. This will help their stomach digest the food more slowly and prevent them from taking in too much air. Second, make sure they’re in an upright position for at least 30 minutes after eating. This will help keep the food down and allow any gas bubbles to rise to the top.
Finally, massage their tummy in a clockwise direction. This will help loosen any gas pockets that may be causing them discomfort. By following these simple tips, you can help reduce the amount of gas in your baby’s tummy and make them more comfortable. Below are other tips you can try to reduce gas.
This should not be considered medical advice. These are my own opinions. Always consult with your doctor before you try anything new. If you have tried everything and your baby seems uncomfortable or fussy, they could have GERD/reflux or colic. Consult your pediatrician with any concerns.
- Mom’s Diet. You may want to eliminate certain foods from your diet if you are breastfeeding. Things like dairy and broccoli have been known to cause gas build-up. Talk to your doctor to see if they think you need to reassess your diet while breastfeeding.
- Mixing formula. Don’t shake the bottle when you are mixing formula; this causes air bubbles to form, and your baby is taking in a lot more air. Gently swirl the bottle to mix.
- Nipple size. One thing you can try is switching nipple size. Switch to one that has a slower flow nipple. The slower flow will help to control the amount of air that your baby swallows, and it may also help to reduce the amount of gas that builds up in their stomach.
- Feed at an angle. You may have a faster letdown that causes your baby to be gulping while feeding. Feeding at an angle can help the excess air come out while they nurse. Also make sure they are latched properly to limit the amount of air they gulp in. Talk to a lactation consultant if you think you are having trouble with the latch.
- Switch Bottles. Try a different brand of bottles. Or a bottle that uses collapsible bags that limit air intake.
FAQs for Hard to Burp Babies
1. Why is it so hard to burp my newborn?
If your baby won’t burp than your newborn may not have to burp yet. Your baby’s digestive tract is very immature and frankly pretty unpredictable. The lower esophageal sphincter opens and often closes on it’s own in a newborn. They have not yet figured out how to regulate when it opens and closes.
This means that they may not need to burp at all. If you have tried burping them and use a couple of different positions but still nothing, then move on. As long as they don’t look like they are in any discomfort, they are fine and don’t have any gas built up.
2. What happens if baby can’t burp?
If your baby doesn’t burp but needs to, you will notice them acting like they are uncomfortable. They may squirm around a lot and keep bringing their legs up. They may also be super fussy and crying. This indicates they have air trapped, and it feels uncomfortable.
This is when you should use techniques to get rid of trapped gas. You can also try giving them some gripe water to ease their discomfort and soothe their belly.
Gripe water can also help if the baby won’t burp and gets hiccups. Hiccups usually occur because they ate too fast or swallowed too much air. It doesn’t always mean they need to or needed to burp. All babies get the hiccups. You can try easing the hiccups using the same techniques you use to burp them. Try keeping them calm so their body can relax.
3. How do you burp a sleeping baby?
Babies tend to fall asleep while breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, especially during those middle of the night sessions, it can be difficult to burp them. However, it is still important to try to burp a sleeping baby before you lay them back down on their back.
If you are already cradling them in your arms, then reposition to have your sleeping baby sit upright, so they are resting on your shoulder. Then gently pat their back to try to coax out some air. Walk around a bit while rubbing their back in circular motions.
4. What if baby doesn’t burp and falls asleep?
Most babies fall asleep during night time feedings. If your baby doesn’t burp at night after gentle pats, rubbing their back while gently rocking, and walking around, you can move on. You don’t want to keep changing positions too much and disturb them sleeping. Gently lay them in their crib or their pack n’ play bassinet. If they squirm around a lot or get angry as soon as you lay them down, they may have excess gas.
Since they woke up, try burping one more time using one of the different burping methods, such as sitting on your lap. If they didn’t wake up but seem uncomfortable, you can try bicycling their legs gently to try to get the gas out that way.
5. How long do you burp your baby?
Burp your baby for a minute or two when you are pausing in the middle of a feeding, like when you are switching breasts. If they don’t have a burp after a couple of minutes, you can continue feeding. They may not need to burp yet. After their meal, add to the time you burp them to coax a burp out.
If they don’t burp after a couple of minutes, try a different burping position. It may take a few tries to find the position that works best for your baby. Even if they don’t burp after a couple of position changes, be sure to keep them sitting up after eating, like in a baby jumper.
6. What happens if baby doesn’t burp after 10 minutes?
If your baby doesn’t burp after 10 minutes, don’t worry. Sometimes babies just need a little extra time to get all the air out. You can try burping your baby again after a few minutes. If your baby is still having trouble burping, you can try changing positions. Hold your baby upright and give light pats on their back until they burp.
You can also try lying your baby down on their stomach and rubbing their back. If your baby still doesn’t burp, they may need some time to digest their food. Just keep an eye on them and make sure they’re comfortable. They should be able to continue feeding without any problems.
7. Can you burp baby too hard?
While it is possible to burp a baby too hard, it is not common. Typically, if a baby is burped too hard, they will cry or show signs of discomfort. If you are concerned that you may have burped your baby too hard, you can try burping them more gently in future.
If you’re not sure how hard to burp them, err on the side of gentleness. A light pat with a flat palm or rub on the back should be enough to get them to release any trapped gas. If your baby continues to cry or show signs of discomfort after being burped, it is important to consult with a doctor. They can help to determine if there is another underlying issue that needs to be addressed.
8. When do you stop burping?
A baby’s digestive system starts to mature by about 4-6 months. Once their system gets a little more mature, you don’t need to help them burp because they can do it independently. They get better at moving gas along themselves and no longer need assistance.
Stop burping when you notice your baby burping on their own. If your baby can sit up without a lot of assistance, this is a good indicator they are ready to stop being burped. They can now be in an upright position on their own and have gas naturally travel out.
While healthy infants usually burp on their own, sometimes they need a little help. There are many ways to burp a baby, but some may be more effective than others. The best way to burp a baby is to hold them upright, with the baby’s chin rest against your shoulder. You can then gently pat or rub their back until they let out a burp.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we just can’t seem to get our baby to burp. If your baby is having trouble burping, there are a few things you can try. First, try burping your baby more frequently throughout the day. Small, frequent burps are more likely to be successful than large, infrequent ones. Second, try changing the position in which you burp your baby. Sometimes, a different position can help to release any air bubbles that may be causing discomfort.
Try massaging your baby’s back with your fingertips in a circular motion. You can also try gently pushing on your baby’s belly while they are in an upright position. Another option is to have your baby do some “bicycle kicks” by lying on their back and pedaling their legs in the air.
Finally, if all else fails you can try gripe water or gas drops. Gripe water is a natural remedy that can help to ease gas and stomach pain. Sometimes, all it takes is a little patience and perseverance to get those pesky burps out.