When a baby drinks, it often swallows some air with it too, although not always. There are two reasons for helping your baby to burp.
Firstly, the baby doesn’t feel comfortable since the trapped air causes crams in its tummy which leads to a glutted feeling. The baby is then annoyed, it cries and cannot fall asleep. Secondly, the swallowed air bubbles in the stomach can cause a false feeling of being adequately full. When the baby feels this full, it stops drinking and later on after the air bubbles escape, its empty stomach demands feeding again. In this way, the baby is hungry and it wants to drink earlier than what was originally awaited which could sometimes be confusing and bothersome.
The more hastily the baby drinks, the more the milk spouts into its mouth, the more air it will probably swallow while drinking – and the other way round. In case that the child drinks especially calmly, it might not be necessary for it to burp at all.
According to this observation, you can decide whether to hold him in a position to induce burping for a while or whether to offer him your other breast. If the baby becomes upset after a few minutes of drinking the milk, it lets go of the breast and starts to wriggle, it is important to check if it needs to burp quickly.
You should certainly hold the baby in a vertical position for a while after the feeding, in the case that it has not fallen asleep yet. If you think that he has had enough, you can let him sleep until he himself shows a need to burp. It might be a good thing to offer the baby your breast once more after it has burped. Keep this in mind especially if the baby’s burp is very prominent (which could be a sign of false fullness) or if it has thrown up a significant amount of milk. This has occupied the space above the air bubbles and was emitted together with it – in this case we should not presume that the baby has had more than enough.
How to help the baby burp
The air rises upwards and so, you should hold the baby in an upright position – the air then rises towards the entrance into the stomach and then it can escape better. The classical position for the baby to burp is for it to sit on your arm looking over your shoulder or to sit on your thighs leaning backwards against you. You can also gently and repeatedly pat him over his back from downwards to upwards using your palm so that the air can rise up at a faster rate. Since a little bit of milk will also be purged out when the baby burps, try to keep it away from your clothes. Don’t attempt to wait for the burp “forever”. If it doesn’t come in a few minutes, you can forget about it, especially if the baby feels alright. If it will feel like burping later on, it will show this by becoming upset and behaving in a confused manner. Then you should lightly hold him up for a while and he should burp without a problem.
What to do if the burp doesn’t come and the air causes crams in the stomach
For babies who gobble down the milk in a hasty manner, it can take a while before they burp. As I mentioned previously, the air bubbles are causing crams in the stomach and they trap a lot of milk above it – more time is needed before it can rise up. Some babies need to burp several times before all the air gets pushed out. Until then, they are restless and tend to cry even though they have had enough and don’t want to drink anymore. In such cases, you should feed your baby as soon as possible, so that it doesn’t drink as hastily, and not to wait until it starts to cry out of hunger. It would also be good if the child could burp while drinking, but this is not always possible. It might help if your hold him more upwards while feeding so that its head lies higher than its buttock. If your breastfeeding let down reflex functions so well that the milk spouts out in large amount immediately so that the baby needs to gobble it down rapidly which causes him to swallow lots of air as well, then you could try to take him away from your breast for a few seconds after a few gulps. Keep a towel aside to wipe off the milk that flows out and then place the baby right back to your breast once the milk starts to flow out a little slower.