As a new mother, this has been one of the most daunting tasks to date. I know that it might seem strange that it should be this, but let me explain.
First off, I had never held a baby for more than a couple minutes until I had my son. I had never babysat any child under the age of 6. Needless to say, I was without experience, and frankly afraid of hurting the little one.
I had to get over that real quick though once my baby boy arrived; after all who is going to burp them the most if not the one who feeds them? I understood the gist of it, the mechanics and all that, but there is nothing that compares to experience.
Why Do We Burp?
Such a good question. I learned the answer to this from watching TV(I hate to admit).
We burp them so the air that they swallow doesn’t go through their digestive tract and cause pain is the most basic answer. Let’s go into this a little more.
When babies eat, they have a tendency to swallow air with their food. I’ve been told that babies who drink from a bottle have a higher chance to swallow air than breastfed babies do, but frankly, I’m not sure how accurate that is. My son is breastfed, and bottle-fed breast milk. I personally have seen no remarkable difference in the amount of air he swallows solely based on this.
So what happens when a baby does swallow air when eating? Well, the air gets trapped in his/her stomach. Unfortunately, babies aren’t able to burp themselves, so we have to manually do it for them. This is why we pat them on the back and hold them in different positions to try to get that air out.
What happens if we don’t get that air out? Well in so many words, bad juju. That air turns into gas, and this causes a baby to feel immense pressure, and even pain, as it travels through his/her digestive tract. Then when it reaches the end, there can be such struggling to get that air out and that can cause stress for both you and the baby.
What happens when burping your baby? Well, your baby will burp and there may be spit-up. What happens is that anything that was consumed after the air was swallowed is pushed up with the air bubble underneath it. This is sometimes unavoidable.
What I like to do to try to avoid this as much as possible is give my baby a breather after feeding in a somewhat upright sitting/leaning position and before burping. I have noticed that this helps prevent spit-up with burping. I believe this happens because it gives the air time to rise to the surface as milk settles more in the bottom of the stomach.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work, and spit-up it seems is unavoidable, but it has helped me reduce breast milk waste and laundry from dirty spit-up cloths.
Positions – Some of the More Common
There is a multitude of positions that you can try. What I have found is that you just need to try them and see what works for you the best. There is no better or worst way, it’s a matter of personal preference.
I should note that the way you pat your baby is important. When you are patting, try to cup your hand slightly so that when you pat baby’s back it makes a hollow sound as if you were testing to see if a watermelon is ripe.
- Over the Shoulder – Hold you baby in your arms facing toward you. Make sure you support his/her head. Bring them to one of your shoulders and put that arm under their butt. Use the other hand to rub and pat their backside.
- Seated – Sit your baby in an upright position either on your lap or on a surface in front of you. Make sure their head and neck are properly supported depending on age. Pat and rub their back. A variation of this is to hold your baby at an angle to your body while supporting their butt with your body. One of you hands support their head and neck while the other pats their back.
- On the Tummy – Lay your baby on their stomach on your lap. Make sure their mouth and nose are free so they can breathe. Pat and rub their back.
As with anything with your child, you need to see which works best for you and your baby. And what works for one baby might not work for another even though you prefer or are used to it. The best thing is to try different positions and see what works best
How Long is Long Enough?
There is no set answer for this. I have burped my son an hour after eating and what I thought was a sufficient amount of burping(thought I had gotten all the air out), and I started burping him again because he got fussy and there were more burps.
The correct answer is you are basically never done burping. Until your baby is old enough to burp on their own, you are the only way they are getting that air out without potentially painful farting. So keep it up, even when you don’t think s/he needs to burp because you might be surprised.
How to Know When You Are Done
This goes with how long, and the answer is you are never done until they can burp on their own.
However, a good rule of thumb to follow is a couple of minutes or until there is a burp right after feeding. Yes, there may be subsequent air that needs to come out, but that is why we burp our babies all the time.
Burping is one of those tasks that is unavoidable if you want to keep your baby happy. As a mother, I can tell you for sure that I do everything I can to prevent my son from experiencing any extra pain in this life.
So yes, at all hours of the day I can be found burping my son, even if I don’t think he needs it because he might need it without either of us knowing it. We both get a surprised look on our face when he burps out of nowhere. But I can tell you, that is very satisfying knowing that I am helping prevent him from experiencing painful belly gas later in the day.