Looking back two years ago to the time when my husband and I brought our first-born home from the hospital, I remember my first-time mother feelings of inadequacy and nervousness when I attempted to burp my little boy. No matter what I did, or the way I tried it, my infant son would never produce a burp for me. Yet much to my dismay, when my husband took his turn during a nightly feeding session, our little bundle freely produced sounds of relief.
Feeding a newborn can be an exciting, challenging, yet intimidating experience for any parent, whether it's your first or third baby. Getting your degree in the "art of burping" will take you on a journey filled with bumps, spittle and yes, extra loads of laundry.
Common Burp Positions
There are three common positions to use when you begin to burp your newborn: over the shoulder, face down on your lap, and sitting up. It is important to remember that if you are not getting the desired results from one position, you need to try another, since most babies burp better in one position rather than another.
Over the shoulder position requires you to hold your newborn firmly against your shoulder, and apply a patting or rubbing motion with your hand on your little one's back. Support your baby's lower back and bottom with your other arm. "A baby can be burped in several ways, but parents should always remember the position of the stomach. The most common way is over the shoulder, with Mom or Dad in an upright position and the child slightly over the shoulder, giving slight pressure on the abdomen and patting their back," advises Rosemary Shy, MD, FAAP, and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Children's Hospital of Michigan.
The face down, on your lap position requires you to place your newborn on your lap with their head resting on one leg and their stomach over the other leg. You must support the baby with one hand, while you apply a patting or rubbing motion, or gentle pressure on their back with the other hand.
If you should decide to try the sitting up position, position your baby in your lap with his/her body leaning forward. Support the chest and head with one hand while you pat your baby's back with your other hand.
"These three are the most popular methods," states Mary Margaret Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Specialty Program Director of the Ohio State University College of Nursing. She recommends, "Parents must take care to support the baby's head and neck safely during positioning for burping, and move the baby in a gentle, slow manner so as not to startle and scare the infant. Babies usually do not like rapid movements."