Feeding the little one is an exciting experience for every new parent. It becomes more exciting when you don't know what to expect. When a baby is fed, the process of burping helps it to get rid of some of the air that it tends to swallow during feeding. In cases when there is too much of air that has been swallowed and when there is no burping, you can expect spitting up of food, crankiness, and gassiness in your baby. Thus a proper bubbling or burping is needed for babies in order to prevent the regurgitation of food. This is important for both breast fed as well as bottle fed babies.
In the simplest terms, burping or belching is the discharge of digestive gas through the mouth. It may be associated with or without sound and odor. It can be triggered by swallowing of air while drinking or eating. Fussy babies have a huge tendency to gulp in air as they swallow. Air is also taken in when moms produce an overabundance of milk or have a very swift milk letdown.There are various advantages of burping your little one. A few of them are discussed below.
Minute, small, pint-sized burps or belches allow the release of air trapped in the baby’s stomach and make the baby’s stomach feel more comfortable and less fussy. This further allows the creation of space in the baby’s tummy, so that he can settle in and feed longer and better. Burping is beneficial to the babies who spit up often or have symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD). GERD can occur when the esophageal defenses of the baby’s system are overwhelmed by the stomach contents, which reflux back into the stomach, causing pain and discomfort to the baby.6 Some babies burp a lot, while others may not. Moreover, burping helps the babies who are colicky, have reflux and often tend to bring up a little milk after feeds, a phenomenon known as possetting.
There is no hard and fast rule that babies have to burp after every feeding session. Breast fed babies do not need to burp as often as bottle fed babies as they swallow less air while feeding.Thus, to summarize it all, burping basically helps relieve discomfort, in that it helps in the expulsion of carbon dioxide, thus avoiding bloating and spitting up. It prevents gas accumulation, required to provide the baby comfort and relieve him/her from any kind of gastric disturbances. It relieves the pressure exerted on the systems due to excessive accumulation of gas and also aids in digestion.
How will you know you have to burp your baby?
While nursing the baby, if your baby seems uncomfortable or if he/ she pulls away and starts crying, it’s time for you to burp your baby. This happens for at least 4 to 6
months. Once the baby is a little grown up, it becomes more proficient in eating and does not swallow much air. If your baby is breast feeding, you can help it burp while you switch from one breast to the other. If your baby is bottle fed with breast milk, burp him/her after every 60–90 ml of milk.
How will you burp your baby?
There are many ways in which a parent can help the baby to burp. Follow the one which is comfortable for both you and your baby.
Try to hold your baby against your chest and support his/her head and shoulder with your hand. Gently pat the back of your baby with your other hand. Make sure that his/her chin rests on your shoulder. Another method which can help your baby burp is hold your baby higher up in a way that your baby’s belly touches your shoulder and is pressed slightly. This method is recommended only if your baby’s head and neck has gained some stiffness and control.
The second way to burp your baby is making your baby sit on your lap, facing away from you. Place your hand on your baby’s chest while giving its chin and jaw your finger support. Gently pat your baby’s back with the other hand. Do not forget to use a bib for your baby or place a cloth on your lap.
The last way to burp your baby is to let your baby face down across your lap. Let him/her lie down on your legs with the face downwards and body perpendicular to
yours. Support his/her jaw and chin with your one hand and gently pat your baby’s back or you may even rub it gently.
If your baby suffers from GERD, and if your baby is bottle fed, try burping your baby after every ounce. If your baby is breast feeding, burp your baby every 5 minutes. You need to know that if your baby doesn't burp after a few minutes, you can change the baby’s position.
Do bottle fed babies need to be burped often?
It is right when people say that breast fed babies take up less air compared to those who are bottle fed. But many a times, when mothers produce a lot of milk that leaks or sprays out, it becomes mandatory to burp your baby. While bottle feeding, it is recommended to use an anti-colic bottle. These bottles help to prevent your baby from taking in a lot of air.
References for sentences in italics are listed here:
1.Burping your baby. Kids health website. http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/burping.html Reviewed October 2013. Accessed 1 August, 2016.
2.Caroline TR and Mary TK. Maternal and new born nursing. Textbook of basic nursing. 9th Edn. https://books.google.co.in/books?id=tB1YiYj_kdkC&pg=PA940&dq=BURPING+IN +NEW+BORN&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjOn6KOpp3OAhUDO48KHVn8CIoQ6AEILj AA#v=onepage&q=BURPING%20IN%20NEW%20BORN&f=false.Walters Kulwer publication. Accessed 1 August, 2016.
3.Benefits of burping. Benefit of .net website.http://benefitof.net/benefits-of-burping/.Accessed August 1, 2016.
4.Is it true that breastfed babies do not need to be burped? The baby center website.http://www.babycenter.com/404_is-it-true-that-breastfed-babies-dont-need-to-be-burped_10329122.bc. Accessed August 1, 2016
5.How to burp your baby? The baby center website.http://www.babycenter.com/0_how-to-burp-your-baby_10363676.bc. Accessed August 1, 2016
6.Overview. Symptoms of GERD. International foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal disorders.http://www.aboutgerd.org/signs-and-symptoms-overview.html. Accessed August 1, 2016
7.How to burp your baby. Baby center website.http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a1051322/how-to-burp-your-baby. . Accessed 1 August, 2016.
This article is written by Dr. Indu Khosla – Consultant pediatrician with 27 years of experience. Past president of Indian Academy of Pediatrics, Mumbai