It’s impossible to burp your baby when he’s asleep, right? Wrong! Learn exactly how to burp a sleeping baby using these effective techniques.
We all know to burp a baby after feeding, but what do you do if the baby falls asleep?
My newborn baby burped easily (and loudly!) when he was awake (in fact, I often fed him after he woke up, not before sleep). But for bedtime and middle-of-the-night feedings, he’d fall straight to sleep, just as I wanted him to.
But as you can imagine, getting a burp out of him was often impossible. I knew some babies don’t need to get burped all the time, but burping helped him avoid being fussy and feeling uncomfortable. I could never figure out how to burp a sleeping baby and didn’t even know if it was possible.
Can I put my baby straight down if he’s asleep? Do I wake him up? Is there a specific technique I need to learn? And considering that both baby and I were half-asleep, I didn’t feel inclined to wake him up even if I could.
How to burp a sleeping baby
Despite the seeming impossibility of burping a sleeping baby, I researched ways to make it happen. And what I learned helped me not just burp my baby, but to know exactly how to do it if he was asleep.
Here’s the thing, too: It’s okay if your baby doesn’t belch a loud one after a feeding. Because you’ll find that the simple act of even trying to get him to burp can often be enough.
But that also doesn’t mean that you lay him down immediately and avoid burping altogether, no matter how sleepy he is. Because I also learned that you don’t need to wake him up to burp, only to end up with a cranky baby who can’t fall back asleep.
So, what if your baby doesn’t burp and falls asleep? And what happens if your baby doesn’t burp because he’s fallen asleep?
Follow these best ways below (watch the video or read the tips). More than likely, you’ll be able to get a good burp out of your baby, or at the least, prevent massive spit-ups and fussiness:
1. Hold your baby upright for a few minutes
How long should you keep trying to burp a sleeping baby?
Sleep deprivation in the middle of the night meant I had zero inclination to burp my baby for hours on end. In fact, I simply limited burping time to five to ten minutes—I’d literally look at the clock and set him down five minutes after feeding.
Sometimes I got a burp, while other times I didn’t. I learned it was actually more important that I was holding him upright.
Yes, gently patting his back helps move the air bubbles up, increasing your chances of burping your sleeping baby. But even if he doesn’t, holding him upright will at least help his food move down to his tummy and decrease the chances of spit-up.
So, whether your baby burps or not, make it a habit to set aside five minutes post-feeding just to hold him upright. Those few minutes will help him feel more comfortable once you finally put him down—even if he won’t burp at night.
2. Move as you hold your baby in your arms
Want to do more than just pat your baby for a burp? Try moving around slowly and gently as you hold him in your arms. This can help move the gas along where simple patting isn’t cutting it. The plus side? This gradual movement likely feels soothing to your baby as well!
As I say in my book, How to Get Your Baby to Sleep Without Being Held:
“When babies are uncomfortable, they fuss, cry, and can’t sleep in long stretches—sometimes even when we hold them in our arms. Gas becomes yet another obstacle that prevents them from getting the sleep they need.”
So, hold your baby upright, and then try these simple motions:
- Sit and lean your upper body forward and back, and then side to side.
- Bounce slowly on a yoga ball.
- Use your arms to slowly rock him in your arms.
- Sit and rock in a rocking chair.
Because your baby just ate and is asleep, keep your movements pretty minimal (you don’t want additional spit-up here!). But these small movements can do plenty to help your baby pass gas.
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3. Move your baby into different positions
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Maybe your baby is so asleep, even patting and holding him upright are ineffective. In that case, try moving him into different positions that can help squeeze the gas out. For instance, you can:
- Do the elbow-to-knee trick. Lay him down and move his right elbow and left knee toward each other, and repeat with the opposite limbs. You might even get farts as well from this exercise!
- Unswaddle or swaddle. Sometimes the motion of being swaddled or unswaddled is enough to move his body to encourage a burp. A ready-made swaddle like this makes it really easy.
- Lay him on his stomach across your lap. Even if he’s asleep, the weight of his body on his tummy can lead to a burp, especially if you rub his back as well. Just be careful to avoid this position if he tends to spit up.
- Lay him down and pick him up. A change in position can be all it takes to get your baby to burp.
- Sit him on your lap with your hand under his chin. Then, lean him slightly forward and pat his back.
Still worried that your baby isn’t burping enough because he’s asleep? Take heart that when sleepy babies feed, they’re usually so relaxed that they’re less likely to intake extra air. If you find that he isn’t fussy, wiggly, or restless at wake-up time, he may not need to burp each time.
In short, it’s okay to put the baby to sleep without burping.
But if he does need to burp while he’s sleepy, now you know the baby burping tricks to help. Hold him upright for five minutes and pat his back, if anything just to help his stomach digest. If that’s not enough, hold him in the same position and gently rock him.
Or you could also move the gas along by trying different positions and exercises, especially for stubborn burps.
And remember, you don’t need to wake him up to get a good burp. From simple pats to exercises, you can absolutely burp your baby, even if he’s asleep.
Get more tips:
- When to Stop Burping a Baby
- Burping a Newborn After Breastfeeding: Necessary or Not?
- How to Burp a Baby (when You’ve Tried Everything Else)
- 13 Ways to Cope with Newborn Sleep Deprivation
- How to Survive the First Few Weeks with a Newborn and Toddler
Does your baby only sleep in your arms? Join my newsletter and download a free chapter of my ebook, How to Get Your Baby to Sleep Without Being Held. You’ll learn effective tips and strategies to finally ease her out of your arms: