Is it possible to burp your little one when he’s asleep? Learn exactly how to burp a sleeping baby using these effective techniques.
My newborn burped easily and loudly when he was awake. But for bedtime and middle-of-the-night feedings, he’d fall straight to sleep. On one hand, I wanted to make sure he didn’t have any air trapped in his body that could make him fussy. But on the other hand, we both just wanted to go back to sleep already.
We all know to burp a baby after a feeding, but what do you do if he falls asleep?
Despite the seeming impossibility of burping a sleeping baby, I researched ways to make it happen.
To start, it’s okay if he doesn’t belch a loud one after a feeding. Because 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. 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 he doesn’t burp and falls asleep? Follow these tips below. More than likely, you can get a good burp out of him or, at the least, prevent spit-ups and fussiness:
Table of Contents
1. Hold your baby upright for a few minutes
Sleep deprivation in the middle of the night meant I had zero inclination to burp my baby for as long as I usually do during the day. In fact, I simply limited burping time to five minutes—I’d 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 that it was more important that I was holding him upright.
Yes, gently patting your baby’s back can help move the air bubbles up, increasing your chances of gas release. But even if he doesn’t, holding him upright, or even in a semi-upright position, can help move the food down to his tummy, offer comfort, and decrease the chances of spit-up.
So, whether you see a sign of discomfort or not, make it a habit to set aside five minutes post-feeding to hold him upright. Those few minutes can help him feel more comfortable once you finally put him down—even if he didn’t burp.
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2. Move as you hold your baby in your arms
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Want to do more than just hold your baby’s head up and pat his back for a burp? Try moving around slowly and gently as you hold him in your arms. This can help move trapped air along where a gentle pat isn’t cutting it. The plus side? This gradual movement likely feels soothing to your baby as well!
As I say in my ebook, 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.
- Sit and rock in a rocking chair.
Because he 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 him pass gas.
3. Move your baby into different positions
Maybe your baby is so asleep that even patting and holding him upright are ineffective. In that case, try moving him into different burping 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 in circular motions as well. But be careful to avoid this position and any tummy pressure if he tends to spit up.
- Lay him down and pick him up. A change in position can be all it takes to release those gas bubbles.
- Sit him on your lap with your hand under his chin. Then, in this sitting position, 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 take in 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 him to sleep without burping.
But if he does need to burp while he’s sleepy, now you know the tricks to help him do so. Hold him upright for five minutes and pat his back. If that’s not enough, hold him in the same position and gently rock him.
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:
- Burping a Newborn After Breastfeeding: Necessary or Not?
- How to Burp a Baby That Is Hard to Burp
- 11 Ways to Cope with Newborn Sleep Deprivation
- How to Survive the First Weeks with a Newborn and Toddler
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