When your baby is well fed, not sick, and isn’t sleepy, the most common cause of their fussiness is gas. As a parent with a gassy baby, there is nothing more glorious than the sound of your baby’s tiny burps and farts, bringing you and your baby much needed relief. The most common way to burp a baby is by patting or gently hitting them on the back. It’s a method that works, but is hitting a baby to make them burp OK?
Romper reached out to Pennsylvania pediatrician, Dr. Jarret Patton, who says that if you are gently patting your baby, it can help relieve some gas, but the most important part of getting rid of that gas is keeping your baby upright after feedings. “Holding or sitting your baby upright after feeding for up to 20 minutes can help relieve gas and reduce symptoms of reflux," he explains. Doing this can actually prevent the need to pat them on the back.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), babies end up needing to burp when they swallow too much air, so you can try to curb this by feeding your baby before they begin crying. The AAP’s Healthy Children website also noted that while the necessity to burp is seen in both breastfed and bottle fed babies, breastfed babies usually require less burping.
Why is that? The website for Ask Dr. Sears explained that bottle fed babies may need to be burped more often, and even between feedings, because the fast flow of milk bottles can force babies to gulp in air between swallowing. However, it's also noted that breastfeeding moms that have a strong milk ejection reflex may also find their babies in need of regular burping.
When you change your baby’s position, or gently pat or rub their back, explained Parents, you can help move those trapped air or gas bubbles to a place where they can be easily released. If you are uncomfortable with patting your baby’s back, the article suggested other methods to burp them, like rubbing their back gently while they are on your shoulder or draped over your lap, laying your baby on their back and gently bicycling their legs, or letting baby lay on their stomach while they are awake.
One mom in Australia claims to have a fool-proof method of burping a baby, as noted by The Daily Mail, which involves sitting your baby on your knee or thigh, and raising their arms above their head. The mother of two, Sophia Cachia, explained through her The Young Mummy parenting blog that she came across this method by chance, and it has magically produced burps for both of her children. This method is very much inline with the advice given by Dr. Patton, emphasizing the importance of sitting and holding your baby upright after feedings.
When burping your baby by patting them on the back, the key is keeping a gentle hand and not for too long. Pediatrician Dr. Eboni Hollier tells Romper in an email interview that if it looks like your baby is uncomfortable and fussy when you pat them and they calm down when you stop, you may be patting them too hard. She recommends patting gently enough that you don’t see any residual redness in the area you’re patting.
If you have any concerns on your method of burping, or how gentle or hard it should be, you should consult with your pediatrician who can give you appropriate advice for your situation. Luckily, babies grow fast, so you shouldn’t have to worry about burping them for much longer. Soon they’ll be burping themselves with giggles and smiles in tow.
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