Baby Burp: is that necessary?

June 30, 2024

The baby’s burp is a fundamental aspect of childcare in the first months of life.

Many parents find themselves wondering how, when, and why to burp their little ones.

This article will explore the importance of burping, the best techniques to do it, and what happens if the baby can’t expel the air ingested during feeding.

Is burping a newborn necessary?

Burping is generally considered necessary for newborns, especially after each feeding.

During breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, babies tend to swallow air along with milk.

This air can accumulate in the stomach, causing discomfort, bloating, and sometimes spit-up.

Burping helps the newborn expel this excess air, helping to prevent discomfort and potential digestive issues.

However, it’s important to note that not all newborns need to burp after every meal.

Some babies, especially those who are breastfed, might ingest less air and therefore require this practice less frequently.

It’s crucial to observe your baby and learn to recognize their signs of discomfort or satisfaction after a meal.

In general, if the newborn seems calm and satisfied after eating, it might not be necessary to insist on burping.

On the other hand, if the baby appears restless, squirms, or seems uncomfortable, trying to burp them might bring relief.

What is the best position for burping a newborn?

There are several effective positions for burping a newborn. The choice often depends on the baby’s preferences and what is most comfortable for the parent. Here are some of the most common and effective positions:

  1. Over the shoulder: this is perhaps the most classic position. Hold the baby vertically with their chin resting on your shoulder, supporting them with one hand under their bottom. With the other hand, gently pat or massage the baby’s back.
  2. Sitting on your lap: sit the baby on your lap, supporting their chest and head with one hand. With the other hand, gently pat their back.
  3. Lying on their stomach: lay the newborn face down across your legs, with their head slightly elevated compared to the rest of the body. Massage or gently pat their back.

Regardless of the chosen position, it’s important to always adequately support the newborn’s head and neck, as neck muscles are not yet fully developed in the first months of life.

It’s also useful to experiment with different positions to see which works best for your baby. Some newborns might prefer one position over another or might respond better to gentle massage rather than patting.

baby burp

What happens if the newborn doesn’t burp?

If the newborn doesn’t manage to burp after a few minutes of trying, there’s no reason to worry excessively. Some babies might not need to burp after every meal, or they might expel excess air in other ways.

However, if the newborn doesn’t burp and shows signs of discomfort, some consequences might occur:

  1. Bloating and discomfort: trapped air in the stomach can cause bloating and discomfort for the baby.
  2. Spit-up: the buildup of air could lead to an increased risk of spit-up or regurgitation.
  3. Irritability: the discomfort caused by excess air might make the newborn more irritable or restless.
  4. Difficulty sleeping: stomach discomfort could interfere with the baby’s sleep.

If you notice that your newborn seems consistently uncomfortable after meals, even if they can’t burp, it’s advisable to consult your pediatrician. There might be other reasons for the discomfort, such as colic or reflux, which require special attention.

How does a sleeping newborn burp?

Burping a sleeping newborn can be challenging, but sometimes it’s necessary to ensure their comfort during sleep. Here are some tips for burping a baby who has fallen asleep during or right after feeding:

  1. Gentle movements
  2. Light massage
  3. Change of position

It’s important to remember that every newborn is unique and might require different approaches. Some babies might burp easily even in their sleep, while others might need more time and patience.

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SOURCES [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Birth: Learn More – Reflux in babies. [Aggiornato 2018 Mar 22]. Disponibile qui:

About the Author

Severino Cirillo

Health, Wellness and Education Expert. With a degree in Community Health, he is the CEO of Informed Parent and is responsible for validating the blog's scientific information and coordinating the editorial team of experts, consisting of gynecologists, midwives, psychotherapists, and others in pregnancy, perinatal, and parenting wellness and health.