Learning to burp your baby is a big part of the early feeding process. Babies swallow air during feedings (especially with bottles), and too much air in their little tummies can lead to crankiness, gassiness and surprise spit-ups.
Keeping your baby upright for 10 minutes after a feeding can help keep what’s in her stomach from coming back up and, when burping, one to five light pats should do the trick. Here’s what else a new mom (or dad) needs to know:
Don’t wait until she’s done.
When breastfeeding, burp when you switch breasts. If using a bottle, “burp after 2 to 3 ounces of milk,” says Charles Shubin, M.D., medical director at Mercy FamilyCare and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. “The bubble of air will still be at the top of the stomach and will come up easily.”
Try different positions.
Most parents prefer one of these three burp-promoting postures:
Baby against your chest: Sit upright with your baby’s chin resting on your shoulder.
Baby sitting upright on your lap: With your hand supporting your baby’s head, lean her over a bit, bent at the waist. the National Institutes of health says this posture moves air to the top of the stomach, which helps your baby burp more easily and reduces spit-up.
Baby lying on your lap, stomach-down: Support your baby’s head so it’s higher than her chest.
Recognize the difference between spit-up and vomit.
Most infants spit up small amounts of milk either during burping or within the first hour after being fed. Vomiting is a forceful action, usually bringing up more of your baby’s stomach contents, and could be a sign of a minor feeding problem or something more serious (like an infection). Call your pediatrician if you can’t distinguish between the two.
Read More: 4 Myths About Babies