I look at my daughters now, and I am so impressed with the little girls they are. It’s amazing to think they were ever little bundles of crying, pooping, fussiness not all that long ago.
Blink, and you’ll miss it.
While it might feel like a struggle right now, one day, you’ll turn teary-eyed to your spouse and talk about these moments.
But I get it…baby is crying and fussy. When your newborn baby won’t burp, it feels like you have a football with a bomb in it that you have to diffuse. The good news is that you won’t have to burp your baby all the way until adulthood. As they grow and develop, they get better at eating more constructively, and burps (farts too!) will come out with ease.
If you feel like you can’t get the baby to burp, you’re not alone. I had big struggles with my eldest. Once I got the hang of it, we were all a lot happier. I’ll be answering your most popular questions about a gassy baby that won’t burp right here, so read on to find out why it’s happening and what to do about it.
When Should You Burp Your Baby?
There are so many things you’ve read about before your sweet baby arrived. But now that you have to use that information, you’re getting a “file not found” message in your head. It’s Mom-Brain, and it’s ok.
Soon, you’ll start to recognize the signs that the baby needs to burp. Here are a few things to look for that could clue you in:
- During breastfeeding
That hungry baby already drained one breast and is ready for the next one. As you make the switch, you should help get your baby to burp. Or you can do it by time too. If the baby tends to nurse for 20 minutes at a time, give her a burp midway through the feeding.
- Watch out with bottles
Whether you’re only bottle-feeding or your spouse or caregiver struggles with a baby that can’t burp, check the bottles you’re using. Non-vented bottles cause more air to build up, which means you’ll need to stop for more burping to help the baby get some relief.
How long do I need to burp the baby?
Generally, if your baby doesn’t burp within a minute or two of your burping attempts, it’s likely she might not need to. But watch her face. That’s the key that I learned! When my eldest was squirming and making an upset face, I knew my baby needed to burp. That’s classic baby can’t burp but needs to right there.
If you can’t get babies to burp or find yours is looking gassy and uncomfortable, I have some tricks for you to help you help them.
And don’t worry…this phase will not last forever. Anywhere from 4 to 9 months is when they usually get comfortable with digestion. As a rule of thumb, burp your baby if she acts fussy and looks pained. If she starts doing it herself, then you won’t need to help much anymore, and eventually, you won’t have to help at all.
How do you get a newborn to burp?
Fortunately, there are many ways to get a baby to burp. You will soon find out how to get a baby that won’t burp to release the trapped gas and get relief.
First, you’ll want to pat your baby on the back gently. In most cases, this should do the trick. Using a cupped hand feels gentler to your baby and will help her relax.
I should warn you that it’s a bright idea to use a bib, towel, or even one of the 8,000 receiving blankets you likely received when this child was born. My eldest never really spit-up. But my youngest? She once spits up right in my husband’s face. Since he was being a pain, I thought she was helping me out.
Anyway, if that basic patting doesn’t help, you’ll want to try different positions. Think of how you feel when you have gas. It’s uncomfortable, right? And you probably move around until that gas comes out. But YOU understand what it is. Babies have no clue what’s going on. They’re just tiny little humans in a perpetual state of “OMG WTF is happening NOWWWW” until they start getting bigger, and then they shift to more of a “WOW OMG what is all this cool stufffff” phase. You’ll see it!
Different Burping Positions When Baby Won’t Burp and Has Gas
Since each baby is different, and each baby will change in time and have different preferences than they had before (just to keep you on your toes), you’ll have to try out different burping positions to see which one does the trick for your baby that can’t burp.
On your lap
With your baby is sitting on your lap (don’t forget to support her head and chest) facing away from you, pat her gently on the back. Make sure she’s got a bib on, and you’ve got some sort of drop cloth. The one time you forget those things, your baby will absolutely spit up on your favorite clothes, I guarantee it.
Chest in chair
For this one, find a good, solid chair to sit upright in. Then, lift your baby that won’t burp in an upright position on their chest. This should cause her to curl her knees to her tummy, much like a little frog. As you may have guessed, this should release the gas out the rear, resulting in a fart. Make sure the head is supported properly and just be patient. Those legs drawing in should release gas out one end or the other (or both!).
After nursing, if your arms can handle it, lay your baby on your arm while her tummy is pressed beneath that arm. Keep her legs supported by your fingers while her head rests in the crook of your elbow. It’s a bit like a sloth, hence the name. While in this position, it puts gentle pressure on the belly and should help the baby burp. Massaging her gently on the back may help coax it out even easier.
Try a burp-inducing massage
When your gassy baby won’t burp, lay her on her tummy on the kind of flat yet firm surface you’d use for tummy time. Gently massage her back and talk in soothing tones. Combined with the position, it should be plenty to get that burp out.
Over the shoulder
My mother-in-law always had success with this one. I think this should be called the “Grandma Burp Position” because every grandma everywhere does this. It’s easy, though, and usually works. Or maybe babies like burping on Grandma…who knows?
Across the lap
With your baby on her tummy across your lap, turn her head to one side. Keep her steady and rub and pat that back. You should get a burp!
Still Can’t Get Baby to Burp?
That’s ok, Mama. I totally get it. You’re tired, and the crying and fussing is making you feel like you’re going to lose whatever shred of sanity you might still possess. I have SO been there. You’re doing a great job!
But if the baby is gassy and won’t burp, chances are, she’s gotten into the fussy range. Here’s what to do!
- Help baby calm down
Crying, fussy babies have a harder time burping. Also, they’re gulping down more air. While you feel like you’re holding an emergency vehicle blaring its siren down the street, just stay calm. Your baby will pick up on your calmness. Rock her, slowly swing her, or do your usual tricks to elicit peace.
Once she is calm, try the burping positions again, starting with the over-the-shoulder. She will likely make a big burp at this point to let out all that gas.
- Change your position
When the baby doesn’t burp and has gas, you should switch positions. Sometimes, it’s all about that movement that should get a burp out. Make sure you try them for at least 10 minutes before switching, though.
The best way for a gassy baby that won’t burp is to use a position that gently applies pressure to the belly. This should push that gas out.
- Just wear baby
So many times, I remember putting my eldest in the baby carrier and wearing her. It resulted in calming her down and keeping her upright. She stopped fussing because she was curious about what I was doing. Then by being upright and me moving around, she’d naturally burp without me having to work hard for it.
- Do the bicycle
Pumping those little legs like your baby is riding a bicycle is a great way to help a baby that won’t burp after feeding. For both my daughters, this move often led to farts, which we thought were hilarious. But the baby will appreciate that relief.
Don’t forget that sometimes babies need to burp even when it’s not after feeding time. Keep watch on your baby for that gassy face. You’ll know it when you see it. Newborns tend to swallow lots of air as they cry, so minimizing their crying and keeping the gas from building up will help a ton!
How Can I Burp a Sleeping Baby?
Burping a sleeping baby always makes me visualize The NeverEnding Story. Remember that movie? Remember when Atreyu has to pass through the gate without those things burning him with their eyes? Ah, yes. That’s what burping a sleeping baby always reminded me of.
If your baby doesn’t burp and falls asleep, you might be wondering if it’s ok to let your baby sleep without burping her.
As mentioned, it is like that movie scene when you have a baby that has fallen asleep right after breastfeeding. You don’t want to disturb them. However, newborn babies have to be burped because they can’t let out gas.
So while you might want to tiptoe away and take 5 to yourself, you’ll have to burp your little angel, or else she could wake in pain in a little while.
Fortunately, it’s much the same as burping a sleeping baby. Over the shoulder works best because you can easily dance her around the room, lulling her back into sleep as she lets out a belch.
Rub her back and sing softly too. This will soothe her and make it easier for her to just drift off to sleep after the burp comes out. You can lay her face down on your lap too, with her head to the side if you’re too sore from carrying her. Pat her back soothingly, and that burp should work itself out.
My favorite trick, though, was in the middle of the night. My girls were such fans of nighttime nursing. When they’d finish, I’d burp them gently, and then if they stirred, I’d give them a little more, and they’d drift off, letting go naturally as they fell asleep.
What if my baby won’t burp after feeding?
When your baby won’t burp at night or after a feeding, it really is ok. As you get to know your baby, you’ll see her demeanor and know whether she’s comfortable or not. You won’t have to burp her after every feeding for too long. Newborns will need the most help, but as she grows, she will be able to expel gas all on her own.
Burping might not always happen. If she seems happy and comfortable, she might not have any gas to release. But if she starts shrieking, chances are she’s a gassy lassie. Help her burp or even fart, and things should calm down.
With these tips and tricks, I hope harmony is restored in your household soon!
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.