Is burping a newborn after breastfeeding necessary or not? Discover whether you still need to burp your breastfed baby—the answer might surprise you.
I actually think my mom’s favorite thing to do with babies is to burp them. Fussy baby? “Oh, he must need to burp,” she’ll decide. Spit up coming out of his mouth? “Let me burp him for you.” She even coos at them, saying “burp, burp, burp!” in a sing-song voice as she pats their backs.
I even think she would’ve loved to keep burping them all through toddlerhood if given the chance.
Kidding aside, burping my babies definitely became a habit, right from the start. But early on, I started to wonder whether burping a breastfed baby at night was necessary. Do I keep patting and burping, or do I let him fall back asleep? Is it bad for the baby if he didn’t burp? What if my baby won’t burp after feeding?
After all, you often hear that bottle-fed babies tend to swallow more air—and therefore need to expel that air—compared to breastfed babies, who nurse directly from the breast.
So I’d find myself holding the baby for what seemed like forever, delirious with sleep deprivation.
Burping a newborn after breastfeeding
Perhaps you can relate. Maybe you’ve tried several times burping a newborn after breastfeeding to no avail. He either fell back asleep or didn’t make a single peep. Or you’re a first-time mom and genuinely curious (or have no idea) if you even need to burp a baby after each breastfeeding session.
After three boys and talking to countless moms, I’ve learned that it is important to give your newborn a chance to burp, even if you breastfeed. Here’s why:
- The baby might be a fast eater and still consume air during nursing
- Your letdown might be fast or strong, contributing to your baby’s gas
- The baby could take in air as he’s trying to latch (or if he doesn’t latch properly)
- Gas can still make its way into your baby, such as from regular digestion
In other words, just because a baby isn’t drinking from a bottle, doesn’t mean he’ll never need to burp.
Still, don’t assume you always have to burp your newborn—and sacrifice sleep in the process—after each feeding session. Take a look at a few best practices for burping a newborn after breastfeeding to help you find that balance:
1. Burp your baby between switching sides
Does your baby fuss after eating, or struggle to fall back asleep? Or does he have a lot of spit up after breastfeeding?
Sometimes a baby consumes so much milk—even if it’s milk he needs for a full tummy—that he feels uncomfortable right after. One of the best ways to pace your baby is to burp him between switching sides as well as after nursing.
Let’s say you nurse him on the right breast first. After he has emptied that side, spend a minute or two burping him before offering the left side. This gives him a mid-meal break and an opportunity to pass gas before having his full meal.
2. Offer your baby a chance to burp each time
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My general rule was: even if a baby won’t burp after breastfeeding, I would at least give him a chance to try.
After every feeding session, give your baby a chance to burp in case he needs to. This doesn’t mean you keep him upright until you finally hear that burp. After all, he might’ve even fallen asleep in the process, especially in the middle of the night.
But by burping him consistently after each feeding, you’re at least giving him a chance to expel any gas he might have. Plus, you’re keeping him upright or at an incline, which helps avoid spit up and digestion problems.
If your baby fell asleep, even holding him over your shoulder with a burp cloth for a few minutes and patting his back is good practice before setting him down to sleep.
3. Keep your baby upright
It’s true that some breastfed babies simply don’t need as much burping. No matter how long you pat your baby, nothing comes out of him.
If that’s the case, then at least keep your baby upright or at an angle for a few minutes after breastfeeding. Don’t lay him flat—whether on his back or tummy—as this can cause spit up and make him feel uncomfortable. (It’s also why you don’t give a baby a bottle while he’s lying flat on his back.)
Instead, hold him over your shoulder, sit him on your lap, or prop him on a nursing pillow—anything so long as his head is higher than his tummy. And you generally don’t want to do tummy time, as that can press down on his stomach.
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When to stop burping a breastfed baby?
At what age do you stop burping a baby?
I learned that you can generally stop burping a baby once he has learned to sit on his own. You’ll also likely follow your baby’s lead, especially as he becomes more mobile and “has no time” for sitting still for patting and burping.
I’ll admit that I was one of those parents whose babies didn’t burp after every feeding. But rather than spending several minutes waiting for that burp that would never come, I simply held him over my shoulder for at least five minutes before laying him back to sleep.
During the day, I’d keep him upright or at an angle, rather than flat on his back or tummy, even if a burp never surfaced. And burping between switching sides—or even holding him upright over my shoulder—also helped prevent spit up.
You see, even if burping a newborn after breastfeeding doesn’t always result in a perfect burp, giving your baby even a few minutes to try can still help.
Unless you’re like my mom, who could spend just about all day patting my baby, singing “Burp, burp, burp!” all the while.
Get more tips:
- How to Burp a Baby (when You’ve Tried Everything Else)
- Life with a Newborn: Expectation vs Reality
- 8 Tips to Save for Maternity Leave
- 5 Useful Tips for New Dads in the Newborn Stage
- 9 Unique Tricks to Increase Your Milk Supply
Tell me in the comments: Do you think burping a newborn after breastfeeding is necessary?
Did you know that your baby's awake time affects how well he sleeps? Discover one mistake you may be making with your baby's awake time.
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