Why is it that so many parents seem to have such an easy time burping their babies? It seems like when most infants have gas and need to burp, their parents just prop them up on their shoulder and pat their back for a couple minutes. The fact is, there are many babies that are extremely hard to burp, and learning the right way to help your little one is not nearly as straightforward as you might have thought it would be. The reason it is important to help your baby burp after being fed is that if there is air in your baby's stomach and you don't help it up, it can be forced to exit the other way, which is very uncomfortable for your little tooter. Though the shoulder laying, back patting method is an effective way to relieve newborn gas for some babies, there are many more ways you can try if this method doesn't seem to be working.
1. Dance out the burp.
To help your baby work a bubble up, sometimes some movement side-to-side helps. Take one hand and place it on your baby's chest, cupping her chin with your thumb and forefinger. Now sit her up on your knee, leaning on your hand that is on her chest. Take your other hand and spread it across her back, using a couple of fingers to stabilize her head from behind. Then holding her securely between your two hands, in a sitting position on your knee, rock the top half of her body gently left-to-right and back in a rhythmic repetitive motion. She will look like she's doing a bad eighties dance if you are doing it right. I often combine the dance with some gentle bouncing from my knee. This should help release any gas bubbles that are lodged in odd little nooks and crannies in your baby's belly. If you don't hear any results after about 5 minutes of this, you may want to try something else, since this type of burping is usually immediately effective if it is going to work at all. I usually start with this technique, because it is generally very effective.
2. Bounce out the burp.
If you have a medium to large exercise ball, break it out! You're finally going to get some use out of that thing! Hold your baby close to your chest, with one hand on his hind end and one supporting his neck and head. Then straddle your exercise ball, being careful not to sit too far back on it, and gently bounce straight up and down. Each time you come down from a bounce, a very small amount of pressure will be applied to your baby's abdomen. This repetitive pressure acts almost like a gentle massage, compressing the lower part of your baby's abdomen and encouraging any air bubbles to exit the way they came. This is also a great remedy for colic and motion sickness, but not so great for reflux or excessive spit up. Be sure to protect your shirt with a burp-cloth.
3. Massage out the burp.
For this technique lay your baby stomach down on an incline with her head raised a few inches. When your snuggle buns is comfortable, take one hand and place it at the base of her spine across her hips. Then gently, without using too much pressure, slide your hand up your baby's back until you reach the shoulder blades. Don't go all the way up to the neck, because pressure on a baby's neck is unsafe. Place your other hand at the base of your baby's spine while your first hand is sliding up, and then begin sliding the second one up when the first one reaches your baby's shoulder blades. This creates a kind of "water wheel" effect and can be very effective for some babies.
4. Consolidate the burp.
Now, for some reason, some babies are able to keep a whole bunch of smaller individual bubbles in their tummies. These bubbles can be a little frustrating, because you will finish feeding your sweet little twinkle toes, burp him, and lay him down, and within ten minutes he will be screaming at the top of his lungs from another gas bubble. This sleep-repellent routine can sometimes happen 4 or 5 times in a row before all of the gas is gone. For these babies gas drops like Mylicon can be very beneficial. Be sure to read the directions on the bottle, and follow them carefully. What Mylicon does is break the surface tension between several separate gas bubbles, this makes one large bubble which is a lot easier to get up. It is very important that you get your baby to burp after using Mylicon though, because if that large consolidated gas bubble does pass into the intestines, it will be very uncomfortable, and your baby will most likely have a very sad painful 3 or 4 hours until the gas is able to be passed from below the belt. When Mylicon is used properly it is a great tool to try.
5. Wait out the burp.
There is another kind of baby out there, one that seems incapable of burping. You pat and pat, bounce, jiggle and dance away with no results. Then when you give up and lay your adorable little bunny rabbit down her eyes pop open and she launches into a baby operetta about your shortcomings as a parent. So you pick her up and then, 1 to 2 hours after the feeding, she burps. In my experience, this type of baby will not respond to any amount or type of burp-producing trick. In fact the best way to get her to release her bubble hostage, is to give her some time. Tummy time is best, unless she is asleep, if she is asleep, I recommend wearing her in a nice snug wrap until you hear the magical belch of freedom. If neither of these options are viable for any reason, simply lay her down on her back and tuck her in, then take advantage of the time you have until she wakes crying with an impending burp, instead of burning yourself out with a lot of wasted effort in the meantime.
Preventing gas problems for your baby can be hard, especially at first when they are so small and delicate, but with effective burping, baby gas can be reduced and even eliminated in rare instances. It is good to keep in mind that over the first couple of years your baby's burping habits will change, they may get more difficult or may vanish entirely. So if what you have been doing suddenly doesn't work any more, just keep trying something new. If you have found these tips helpful, please forward them to any new or expecting parents you know. Questions, comments and followers are always welcome! Happy parenting!