Why & How To Burp A Newborn

how to burp a newborn - image

Whether you’re a first-time parent or a seasoned pro, understanding the nuances of burping can make a big difference in your baby’s comfort and your peace of mind. So, let’s explore some effective techniques and tips of how to burp a newborn with ease.

Why Do You Have to Burp a Newborn?

Before we dive into the methods, let’s briefly touch on why burping is so crucial. When your baby feeds, they can swallow air, which might cause discomfort, gas, or fussiness. Burping helps to release this trapped air, making your baby feel more comfortable.

Breastfed babies typically swallow less air than bottle-fed babies because they tend to latch onto the breast in a way that forms a tighter seal. However, they can still ingest air, especially if the latch isn’t perfect. So whatever your method of baby feeding, burping is essential.

How Often Do You Burp a Newborn?

Your baby will need to burp during and after each session. Here are some loose guidelines you can follow:

For Breastfed Babies:

  • During Natural Pauses: A good rule of thumb is to burp your baby when switching between breasts. If your baby naturally takes a break during feeding, that’s also an ideal time for a gentle burp.
  • Not Every Baby Needs Frequent Burping: Some breastfed babies swallow less air, especially if they have a good latch. These babies might not need to burp as often.
  • Post-feeding Burp: Burp them after the feeding session is over.

For Bottle-fed Babies:

  • Every 2-3 Ounces: If you’re bottle-feeding, try burping your baby every 2-3 ounces of formula
  • Consider the Bottle Design: Using bottles designed to reduce air intake might affect how often your baby needs to burp.
  • Post-feeding Burp: Burp them after the feeding session is over.

Signs Your Baby Needs to Burp

  • Fussiness During Feeding: If your baby is squirming, pulling away, or seems uncomfortable during feeding, it might be a sign they need to burp.
  • Looking Uncomfortable After Feeding: A baby who is fussy or gassy post-feeding might likely needs more frequent burping.

What Will Happen If I Don’t Burp My Baby?

Spit-up and Reflux: Right after a feeding, the swallowed air sits in baby’s stomach. Without burping, the trapped air can push the milk upwards and baby will spit up. If your baby has reflux, not burping can make their symptoms worse, leading to more discomfort.

Increased Gas and Discomfort: If your baby doesn’t burp after feeding, the swallowed air will eventually move from the stomach into the intestines. This can lead to discomfort, bloating, fussiness, and gas pains. Gas can sometimes mimic colic, where your baby may cry more often and seem harder to soothe.

Feeding Difficulties: A baby who isn’t burped will likely feel uncomfortable. They may pull way from the breast or bottle or not eat as effectively.

Techniques for Burping a Newborn

1. Traditional Over-the-Shoulder Burp

  • How to Do It: Place a burp cloth over your shoulder in case baby spits up. Gently lift your baby to your shoulder, ensuring their tummy is against it. Support their head and neck with one hand, and gently pat or rub their back with the other.
  • Why It Works: Gravity helps the trapped air bubbles rise, and the gentle pressure on their tummy aids in releasing the air.

2. Sitting on Your Lap Burp

  • How to Do It: Sit your baby on your lap, facing away from you. Support your baby’s chest and head with one hand while using the other to gently pat or rub their back.
  • Why It Works: This position allows for more direct pressure on the baby’s tummy, helping to coax out that elusive burp.

3. Face-Down Across Your Lap Burp

  • How to Do It: Lay your baby face down across your knees, one leg under their chest and the other supporting their lower body. Gently pat or rub their back.
  • Why It Works: The slight pressure on the baby’s tummy in this position can be very effective in releasing gas.

Tips for When Your Newborn Won’t Burp

  1. Be Patient and Persistent: Sometimes, it takes a little longer for a burp to surface. Keep trying for a few minutes before switching to another feeding or activity.
  2. Try Gentle Movement: Gently bouncing your baby or walking around with them can help move the trapped air bubbles.
  3. Check Your Feeding Position: Sometimes adjusting your feeding position can reduce the amount of air your baby swallows.
  4. Burp During and After Feeding: Don’t wait until the end of the feeding. Pausing to burp halfway through can be more effective.
  5. Keep Your Baby Upright After Feeding: Holding your baby in an upright position for a few minutes after feeding can help with digestion and naturally release air.

What If My Baby Still Won’t Burp?

Don’t worry! Some babies are less gassy and might not need to burp as much. If your baby is comfortable and not fussy after feeding, they may not need to burp every time.

When to Seek Help

If your baby seems excessively fussy, gassy, or is experiencing discomfort regularly during or after feeds, it’s a good idea to consult with your pediatrician. They can check if there’s an underlying issue or offer additional guidance.


Remember, every burp is a small victory in the early days of parenthood! Learning how to burp a newborn effectively is a skill that comes with time and patience. Each baby is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. Trust your instincts, be gentle, and remember, you’re doing a fantastic job caring for your little one.


Davidson, M., London, M. Ladewig, P. (2012).Olds’ Maternal-Newborn Nursing & Women’s Health across the Lifespan, 9th Edition. pg 881.

Lauwers, J., Swisher, A. (2021). Counseling the Nursing Mother: A Lactation Consultant’s Guide. 321-322.

Meet Katie Griffin

I’m a registered nurse, Lamaze certified childbirth educator, and the mother of 7. I help women realize their dream of a natural, intimate, and empowering hospital birth.

You may also like

Whether you’re a first-time parent or a seasoned pro, understanding the nuances of burping can make a big difference in your baby’s comfort and your peace of mind. So, let’s