Article by Sherri Phillips, Certified Postpartum Doula and Registered Early Childhood Educator.
Preventing your baby from sucking in air and successfully burping during feeding is not always as easy as it sounds. Babies are learning the rhythm of sucking, swallowing, and breathing, plus their little digestive systems are developing and adjusting to this new food.
Before I discuss strategies for relieving air from either end of your baby remember each baby is unique. Their temperament, age and size might determine what strategies work. As a parent you know your child best, use a variety of strategies that work well for both of you. It is important to remember burping and relieving gas is not always necessary. If your baby seems content, then burping may not be needed. Sometimes the release of air will just come when baby is ready.
Tips To Prevent Air When Feeding
Baby should not suck on only the breast or bottle nipple. Touch the nipple to the baby’s lips to encourage them to open wide. Positioning the baby’s bottom lower than their head helps liquid go down smoothly.
Breast - Asymmetrical Breastfeeding Latch – Dr. Jack Newman’s resource explains and has images to help you achieve this latch. International BreastFeeding Centre | Latching and feeding management (ibconline.ca). If you are struggling with latch, it is best to have a Certified Lactation Consultant provide an in-person demonstration.
Bottle - Baby’s mouth should be around the wide part of the nipple and tilt the bottle up a little.
When to Burp Baby
Breast – Burp baby when switching from one breast to the other and after feed.
Bottle – Burp baby before finishing the bottle. The number of times will vary depending on the quantity of liquid in the bottle. Follow with a burp at the end of the feed.
Positions for Burping Baby
There are multiple ways to burp your baby however depending on their age the head may need additional support. In all positions apply gentle taps to their back. These positions are found in the Best Start booklet called Infant formula : What you need to know - Best Start.
Shoulder – This is the common one where baby is upright by your shoulder. How high on the shoulder depends on if baby can support their head. If not, they need to rest against you without their head being suspended. I find leaning back helps to apply pressure to their stomach.
Sitting – Place baby in your lap. Support baby’s head by holding their chin in your hand. This position works well with little babies.
Lying – Place baby tummy down along your legs supporting their head and body with your arm.
Are you finding baby is still fussy for some time after feeding and you are worried they are suffering from not relieving gas? Here are some strategies.
- When lying on their back lift baby’s legs, bicycle them and move them from side to side.
- Tummy Time – this helps with gas and burps
- Infant Massage – Ask your health care provider or Doula for individuals within your community who can provide this service and guidance on how to do it safely and effectively.
If you are unsure about any of these strategies ask your Postpartum Doula, Lactation Consultant, Midwife or Doctor to demonstrate them.
I am thankful to have found The Elk Baby’s burp cloths and blankets. They are smooth, provide adequate coverage and stay easily on my shoulder. I love how the burp cloths also turn into bibs. These products are a must for my Postpartum Doula bag I bring to my client’s homes.
Founder of Baby Helping Hands,
Certified Postpartum Doula and Registered Early Childhood Educator.