True story: I love burping babies. This may be because my kids weren’t prone to spitting up. My son never did, and my daughter spat up maybe five times. So do all babies need burping? Does a baby need to be burped when breastfed?
I know that for my son, when I burped him, it was like a truck drive had taken over his tiny baby body. So I thought, he obviously needs to be burped. My daughter, on the other hand, almost never burped. I’d pat and pat and pat, and nothing would come. Girl just never burped. This is no longer the case, and at 6 years old, she can pretty much outdo her older brother at this point, but as a baby? Nope.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), babies need to be burped for the same reasons adults need to burp. Babies, and their underdeveloped esophageal systems, have a tendency to swallow air whenever they eat. Granted, it’s because the nipple system isn’t flawless and not because beer contains bubbles of air that you swallow, but it’s the same idea. The consequences for a baby not burping are not something you want to deal with as a parent. Gassy, fussy babies are no one’s idea of a good time. However, does a baby need to be burped when breastfed, or is it only bottle-fed babies?
According to the lactation consultants at Breastfeeding Basics, babies, whether they’re breast or bottle-fed, need burping. While they found that breastfed babies may require less burping than their bottle-fed friends, they still need occasional help. This is because babies who breastfeed tend to do so very efficiently, managing to swallow only minimal amounts of air as they nurse. When it comes to babies who eat from a bottle, it’s not that the baby is any less efficient, it’s more that the apparatus isn’t as intuitive. However, according to the website for Dr. Sears, you should still be burping your babies at every feeding, even if you think they don’t need it. It’s one of those "ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" scenarios that's best to follow, according to the website.
Although, there is one case where breastfed babies require just as much burping care as their bottle-fed counterparts — babies with gastroesophageal reflux (GER). According to La Leche League International, burping is critical in the care of those babies. Burping babies with GER is essential because it helps ease the pain of the acidic reflux, and it helps the babies keep their food down. Babies with GER tend to projectile vomit or hiccup frequently, and burping your baby can help with both issues.
As for healthy babies, while the breastfed babies may not need to be burped as frequently as other babies, it’s just as easy to burp them and hopefully prevent an angry, gassy baby, than not. Plus, burping babies are just too cute for words. Who’d have thought a teeny baby could make that kind of noise? It’s at least entertaining, if nothing else.