Recently, I was spending time with a friend and her three-month-old baby. Immediately after she fed him his usual formula, he got a little fussy and she picked him up to burp him. I was impressed when he burped right away, and she put him down comfortably to sleep. In the past, I’ve only seen burping sessions that were frustrating and took at least a few minutes of coaxing. When I asked how she did it so well, she explained that it wasn’t always that easy. She had tried multiple different positions and techniques before finally finding one that worked for her little guy, and now they can get through it like clockwork. If you’re having trouble finding that special position for your baby, it’s important that you first accept that all babies are different. What works for one mom might not work for another, but there are certainly a few tried and true positions and techniques you should consider.

First, you should always make sure your baby is eating in an upright position for the first six months. This will help prevent any major air bubbles from getting caught in the belly, and it will make for a less messy cleanup when the burp finally happens. When your baby is done eating, there are three most common positions you can try for burping. The first is the simple upright position. While you’re sitting down, position your baby so that his or her head is resting on your shoulder and facing a burp cloth. The next is the sitting position, in which you sit your baby on your lap and apply gentle pressure to the stomach while also patting the back. The third most common is the laying position where you position your baby on his or her belly on top of your lap. While making sure the head is slightly higher than the body, your baby’s body weight will provide pressure to move the air bubbles. Each of these positions also requires gentle back patting.

You might even try all of these common positions and find out that your baby doesn’t prefer any of them. With your doctor’s permission, it’s okay to try new and unique ways to burp your baby, as long as they work. If you don’t burp your baby successfully between every three ounces or so, he or she might become too uncomfortable to eat more.

Source: ME Hancock et al: What Nurses Need to Teach Parents Who Choose to Formula-Feed. Nursing for Women's Health Volume 14 pp. 302–309 2010

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