How To Burp A Baby

Baby BurpYou’ve just become a parent and while you read all those books you are freezing because real life takes its own twists and turns and you have to learn how to parent at the moment.

One of those things that you must learn to do now that you have learned to feed the baby is learning to burp them.

But there are a lot of questions that come along with that such as how do you burp them, what are the best methods, and is it truly necessary (because no one likes spit up all over their back/leg/arm/floor.

So, we’ll explore the different techniques to burping your baby and answer the questions of its necessity first.

Do I Have to Burp My Baby?

It depends (don’t you wish it was yes or no). Some babies burp and some don’t. My son did not burp at all despite the attempts that I made to get him to do so. But it never happened and he was a happy camper.

However, with that being said, there was an actual study done where scientists recruited parents and had half burp their babies and half not burp their babies.

This was related to children with colic symptoms and spit up. Interestingly enough, there was no difference in their symptoms when it came to colicky babies. However, when burped, children would spit up twice as much [1].

When burping them, what you are doing is getting rid of the air bubbles that could be preventing them from eating longer [2] because they are uncomfortable and once they are burped they are ready to finish their meal or relax.

So, the question if you have to burp them still stands, it really depends on your baby. You may notice that they feel better afterward and you should work with that.

Otherwise, if you find they are comfortable and just like to fart, that might be what works for your little one. It’s all relative to the individual child.

Timing of Burping

There are a few things to consider with this. If your baby falls asleep after their feeding, there is no need to burp them, especially if they’re content, not fussy, and they continue sleeping. However, there are some that fall asleep (also known as being milk drunk) but are still gassy and need to burp.

One trick that you can try instead of lying them right now is to keep them sitting upright for a period of time and then gently patting their backs [3].

If it is gentle enough, they may sleep through it or stir slightly, feeling content and remaining asleep at the same time. They may also sleep for longer because they are not uncomfortable and full of gas.

Techniques for Burping Your Baby

There are a couple of different ways to actually burp a baby. Some babies also respond better to different ones, and also some might be more comfortable for you.

As a childcare worker, I find the ones that don’t cause them to spit up all over my shirt are the best so that I don’t have to change so often.

All of these different positions include rubbing and patting their back once they are in the proper position to be burped.

Some babies respond better to the circular rubbing on their back and others by patting (and there are also different parts of the back, the upper and middle back, where babies respond best). The more you do it, the more readily you will find that sweet spot on your baby.

How to Hold Your Baby

On Your Shoulder: This is one of the most common ways you see parents burping their babies. The baby has their chin on your shoulder and you are holding them by their bottoms.

When holding them like this sometimes the pressure from their bellies leaning on you helps relieve the pressure with the patting on the back [4].

Sitting Up On Your Lap: As a childcare worker, this is my favorite position, if only for keeping myself clean. Sit them your lap facing away from you. Your one hand should be supporting their chest and holding them up while also supporting their head [5]. If they have a history of spitting up this is one of the best ways to hold them and keep yourself clean.

Laying Them on Your Lap: You can also lay them over your legs while supporting their head. This might make it easier if you are nervous about holding them up or even if you have someone else who doesn’t have the strength or confidence to do so in the other manners.

Burping Is An Art

Some people are amazing at getting their babies to burp while others have a hard time with it (even with the same child). But again, it could mean a lot of different things, they either don’t necessarily need to burp (again, it’s not mandatory) and also, they might just know the perfect angle and pressure to pat their backs with.

Whatever the case may be as long as your baby is healthy and comfortable after feeding you are doing a great job.


  1. Dr. Cindy Gellner via University of Utah. Do Babies Need to Burp After Feeding? (Interview Transcript) [Link]
  2. BabyCentre. How to Burp Your Baby [Link]
  3. See Above #2
  4. See Above #2
  5. See Above #2
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