The National Parenting Center

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Burping Your Baby

There’s always air in your baby’s stomach. He doesn’t only swallow it when feeding, but also when he’s crying, or just breathing. Don’t be fanatical about getting wet air out – you can’t, and you don’t need to. All you have to do is help your baby be comfortable.

Some babies swallow enough air to distend their small stomachs before they’ve had enough milk. The distention is uncomfortable, so the baby stops crying and grumbles. And that’s your cue to help him to a half-time burp. But don’t stop him sucking just to burp him – he’ll be furious, and it’ll be the crying that produces the burp, ten miserable minutes later.

Most babies do produce some air after a feeding, so give him an opportunity to burp. But if he doesn’t take it, he doesn’t need to right now. He’ll soon tell you when he does.

Milk is heavier than air. Feeding your baby in a fairly upright position helps the milk go to the bottom of his stomach, so the air can rise to the top for easy burping. Most babies are happiest if they’re held upright against your shoulder, and rubbing or gently patting their backs helps too. Or, at least, they enjoy the rhythm of the patting.

Penelope Leach, Ph.D., is one of the world’s most respected (and best-loved) developmental child psychologists. She is most widely known for her best-selling books on child development and parenting. They include Babyhood, Children First: What Society Must Do — and Is Not Doing — for Our Children Today, the classic Your Baby & Child: From Birth to Age Five (now in a new edition for a new generation), and Your Growing Child: From Babyhood Through Adolescence.


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