Finding it difficult when your baby has gas? Discover how to burp a baby that is hard to burp, even when you’ve tried everything else!
For many parents, the challenge of caring for a baby isn’t just the sleep deprivation or the difficulty with breastfeeding. It may not even be the adjustment to motherhood and life as a new parent.
It’s getting your newborn to burp.
Maybe you find yourself patting him for what seems like forever, with no luck of anything coming out. Burping him usually involves more spit-up or vomit than you’d care to clean.
Perhaps he had been burping fine all along, and then out of the blue, fusses and can’t seem to pass air. It doesn’t help when others—your spouse, your mom—seem to burp him while you can’t figure out how to follow suit. Nothing seems to help.
How to burp a baby that is hard to burp
I can definitely relate. My baby wouldn’t burp at night, and would instead drift off to sleep before burping, especially after those middle of the night feedings. I tried different ways to burp him, and even used gas drops or gripe water without knowing whether they even worked.
It pained me to think of his discomfort, especially when he’d fuss and cringe.
Thankfully, I found a few ideas that finally worked. In fact, these moms responded with their own results after applying the tips I share below:
“So I googled ‘how to burp a difficult baby’ at 4am. My 3 week old has been difficult to burp since birth and I was over it! She is my seventh child so I’m not new to this. Within minutes of applying some of your techniques, she burped! Wow! You can always learn something new and better. Thank you from a tired Mama.” -Rachael
“Holy moly. I feel like I need to take you to dinner or something haha. Every. Single. Suggestion. Has worked! And trust me. I’ve tried them all. Within 48 hours, I’ve gone from being up every hour to every 3! And I’ve never been so excited! I cannot thank you enough for having relatable problems, being open about it and then having solutions that have helped me; not to mention my little man and how much more comfortable he is. Thank you, thank you, thank you!” -Sierra Guerin
“Amazing article! All it took me was a maximum of 5 minutes including the surfing and reading time for my baby who hadn’t burped for almost 2 days. Midway through the article, I picked him up and started patting his bottom and there came a huge one. Now he is sleeping like he hadn’t for a while. May God bless you for this wonderful article.” -Mir Manzar
So, what happens if you can’t get a burp out of your baby? As always, consult with your pediatrician or lactation consultant for tailored advice to your situation. In the meantime, take a look at a few of these ideas:
1. Pat or bounce your baby
Patting your baby on the back helps move the air bubbles up, but sometimes the patting isn’t enough. If he won’t burp, try patting him more firmly with your whole palm, as light pats may not be effective. Another option is to pat his bottom. Many parents swear this is the only way to get their babies to burp.
If patting doesn’t work, see if rubbing his back does the trick. Move your hand gently but with enough pressure from the bottom to the top of his back.
And finally, try sitting him on your lap and gently bouncing him up and down. Support him in the same way as you would if you were burping him sitting upright, but move your leg up and down.
Keep in mind not to move too vigorously, as he has just eaten and may spit up the breast milk or formula right back up with too much motion. (Have a burp cloth or bib handy!)
Free resource: Does he get fussy and overtired during the day? Grab your copy of One Mistake You’re Making with Your Baby’s Awake Time. You’ll learn exactly how to use his awake time to help him take better naps. Plus, you’ll also get my newsletters, which parents say they LOVE:
“Thank you Nina. I always look forward to reading your emails (and saving them to back-read) and visiting your blog. It sounds like you are really intentionally writing and speaking to your subscribers and not just an auto email full of enumerated links. Thank you very much for always taking the time to share your thoughts with us.” -Fatima O.
2. Try different burping positions
The most common burping position is over the shoulder, but others may be more effective for yours. Take a look at a few other ways to burp him and see which ones work:
- Hold your baby waaaay over your shoulder. One mistake parents make with burping over the shoulder is they don’t hold the baby high enough. Not only should his head reach over your shoulder, but his belly should rest on your shoulder as well. Then, lean back enough so that he’s at a slight incline (instead of upright, or worse, angled as if he’s leaning back).
- Carry him in a football hold. Place him tummy-side down on your forearm with his face toward your elbow and his limbs dangling on either side of your arm.
- Lay him across your lap. In a sitting position, place him stomach side down across your lap.
- Sit your baby upright. Sit him on your lap with your hand supporting his chest and head, leaning him slightly forward. Be careful that your hand isn’t actually touching his neck or throat.
3. Change your baby’s positions
I was that mom who’d hold her newborn over her shoulder for what seemed like forever, wondering when he was finally going to burp.
Turns out, I had much better luck simply by changing positions.
It’s easy to keep doing the same thing over and over, especially when you’re sleep deprived and feel stuck. But not only might we have better luck burping in other positions, the actual changing of positions might just do the trick.
For instance, if you’ve been holding your baby over your shoulder, move him to a football hold. If that doesn’t work, try sitting him upright. You might find that the actual movement itself helps him burp.
4. Do burping exercises
Sometimes those air bubbles and gas are so stubborn, none of the positions you try seem to work.
In this case, it’s not so much about burping your baby as it is helping him deal with the gassiness through simple exercises and body movements. Watch the video or read the tips below where I explain three exercises you can try. You’ll get a lot out of it—as one parent said:
- Rotations: Sit your baby on your lap and support his chest and head as you would if you were burping him. With your other hand, support his back and neck. Then, slowly rotate his upper body clockwise, then repeat by moving it counter-clockwise.
- Forward and backward: Start off in the position above, but instead of rotating him in a circle, move him forward and backward slowly. First, lean him forward for a few seconds, then move him back to an upright position. Then, lean him slightly back, as if you were going to lay him down. Return to sitting upright, and repeat this motion of forward and backward.
- Elbow to knee: Lay him on his back. Then, take his right elbow in one hand, and his left knee in the other. Slowly move them toward each other above his chest, as if they were going to touch. Repeat the same with his opposite limbs. You’ll also be able to get him to fart some gas this way (instead of burp).
Getting those burps out can be frustrating, especially when your baby already takes a long time to feed. Hopefully you were able to learn a few tips and tricks and apply many of them to your next feeding and burping session.
For instance, experiment with different positions, since the actual changing of positions can often lead to a good burp. Pat, bounce, or rub him to help expel air bubbles and gas from his body.
If all else fails, try gentle exercises to move his body such as elbow-to-knee exercises, rotations, or moving his body forward and back.
Keep in mind that he may not even need to burp after every feeding (for instance, breastfed babies are likely not swallowing as much air). Perhaps his fussiness is due to something else you might have to look into, and nothing at all to do with burping.
And remind yourself that this stage will pass, especially as his digestion improves and he has a better ability to expel his own gas.
Soon, these challenges will be a thing of the past—no more never-ending burp sessions necessary.
Get more tips:
- How to Burp a Sleeping Baby
- When to Stop Burping a Baby
- Burping a Newborn After Breastfeeding: Necessary or Not?
- Newborn Not Sleeping? 9 Tricks to Help Your Baby (Finally!) Sleep
- What to Do When Your Overtired Baby Keeps Waking Up
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