When Should Baby Take a Burp Break?
If you are planning to breastfeed your newborn, many healthcare providers and specialists agree about timing burps. "A good rule of thumb is to burp the baby each time he/she switches breasts," says Karen S. Rance, RN, MSN, CPNP of Tidewater Pediatric Consultants in Virginia Beach, Virginia. "Babies tend to swallow air during their feedings and therefore can become fussy or spit up if they are not burped frequently. If a baby swallows too much air, they can become cranky and exhibit colicky behavior. Burping helps to slow down and interrupt the baby's eating cycle, and decreases the amount of air that the baby will swallow during a feeding."
Bottlefed newborns tend to experience more trapped gas or air bubbles than those who are exclusively breastfed. "Most bottlefed babies need to burp more frequently than those who are breastfed. It may depend on the type of formula, type of bottle, size of the baby and individual stomach, and fussiness," says Dr. Shy. She cautions parents-to-be, "Remember that an infant's stomach is only the size of a golf ball at birth, and so it is not so large as to easily have air and food at the same time."
Gottesman says that whether feeding by breast or bottle, moms should observe the changes in their babies' feeding behavior. "When their baby markedly slows down or stops feeding, gently remove the bottle and burp the baby. Also, at the end of a feeding, they should attempt to burp the baby again. Parents should be helped to identify the baby's cues of fullness: a relaxed body, drifting off to sleep, cessation of active sucking and swallowing, and accepting these signs of fullness to stop feeding. Babies should not be forced to finish their bottles once they are clearly indicating their fullness."
What If My Baby Still Won't Burp?
"A mother need not feel a sense of failure if her baby doesn't burp at every attempt," says Rance. "When babies feed in a more upright position, they naturally will have less trapped air than if they are fed lying flat." Every baby is different, and more often, breastfed babies may not need to produce a burp during feedings.
"If a decent attempt at burping has been made, especially for breastfeeding babies, parents do not need to obsess," says Gottesman.