A father patting their baby's back to help them burb
Louise Broadbridge
Louise Broadbridge

The best way to burp a baby

Burping or winding your baby is a vital part of your feeding routine, whether you breastfeed or bottlefeed.

This is because young babies swallow air while they feed, and they can struggle to get rid of this by themselves. Burping them after a feed helps get rid of any air bubbles so they don’t end up with trapped wind, which can be very uncomfortable.

How often do I need to burp my baby?

It is a good idea to burp your baby after every feed, but sometimes you may need to stop during a feed and take a little winding break. If your baby seems unsettled during feeding and is restless and moving about, this is a good sign that they have some wind and would benefit from burping. A baby that needs winding may also try to pull away from the nipple or the teat of the bottle.

Once your baby reaches about four to six months, they will start to be able to get rid of their own trapped wind effectively, so you will no longer need to burp them after every feed.

How do I burp my baby?

Gently pat or rub your baby’s back for a few minutes or until they produce a burp. You don’t have to spend a long time winding your baby or use any force—a couple of minutes will usually be enough.

There are a few positions you can use to wind or burp your baby. The best thing to do is to try them all out—you may find you have a favourite or you could switch between different positions. Always make sure your baby’s back is straight and they are not all curled up, and remember to support their head and neck if they aren’t able to do so themselves.

A classic burping position is holding your baby so they are in an upright position and looking over your shoulder. Rest their chin on your shoulder and support their head with your hand before patting their back.

Pop a muslin or cloth across your shoulder to protect your clothes, as lots of babies bring up a little bit of milk when they burp.

You can also sit your baby on your knee, leaning forward and facing away from you. Use the palm of your hand to hold their chest and support their neck and chin, and pat or rub their back with the other hand. Some people prefer lying their baby stomach-down across their lap; use your hand to support their chin.

How can I tell if my baby has trapped wind?

Trapped wind can be very uncomfortable, so one of the main signs is likely to be your baby crying and getting upset. Your little one might pull their legs up towards their tummy, clench their fists, and arch their back.

They may also seem unsettled during a feeding and squirm about or pull away.

What if my baby won’t burp?

Babies won’t always produce a burp, so don’t worry if your winding session doesn’t produce a result. However, if you think your baby has trapped wind that is bothering them, it may be worth persevering and burping them for a little longer.

You can also use two fingers to gently massage their tummy, using small circular movements in a clockwise direction. Pushing their knees up to their tummy can also help release trapped wind, as can cycling their legs as if they were on a bicycle.

If your baby is struggling with wind and burping isn’t helping, speak to your GP or health visitor. 

Can you prevent trapped wind?

There is no way to prevent trapped wind completely, but there are things you can do to help. Breastfeeding mums should make sure their baby is well latched on at every feed, as this will minimise the risk of them swallowing air.

If you’re bottlefeeding, you can buy bottles that are designed to reduce wind, which might be described as "anti-colic." Whichever bottle you use, tilt it during feeding so the milk covers the hole in the teat—this will mean your baby swallows less air.

Mixing the formula by rolling the bottle rather than shaking it will also help make sure there are fewer air bubbles in the milk.

How long does it take to wind a baby

The amount of time it takes to wind a baby will depend on the age and size of your baby as well as their temperament.

Generally, it takes 10-15 minutes to wind a newborn, but this can vary depending on how quickly they settle down. Older babies may only need 5-10 minutes of winding to feel settled. If your baby doesn’t seem to be settling after 15 minutes then it may be worth trying something else like a lullaby or some gentle rocking.

Winding should always be done in a quiet and calming environment with no distractions. Make sure you keep your movements slow and rhythmic and keep talking quietly throughout the process if possible – this can help relax both you and your baby!

How to wind a baby with reflux

Wind your baby with reflux carefully and gently. Start by laying the baby on their back, with their head slightly elevated. Use a gentle rocking motion to help soothe and relax them.

Place one hand at the base of their spine, and the other flat against their belly, then make small circular motions with your hands to help move gas bubbles up and out. Make sure to be gentle as babies with reflux can be quite sensitive. It's also important to keep talking or singing to your baby throughout the winding process, as it will help them feel calm and secure. After winding for about 5 minutes, lay your baby down in a comfortable position and monitor them for any further signs of discomfort or distress.

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