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Burping, Hiccups, And Spitting in Babies

8 min read

Burping, Hiccups, And Spitting in Babiess are common. Baby burps are, as cute as they are, important. Feeding your baby is one of the most important and, at times, confusing challenges you’ll face as a parent. And when your baby ends up swallowing air that gets trapped in his stomach, your baby could become cranky.
A gaseous tummy is sometimes the most overlooked cause of your cranky baby. So how to tame this problem gently and efficiently?
The answer is – Burping/
Burping a baby


What is meant by burping a baby?
Burping a baby after bottle-feeding
Burping a baby after breastfeeding
Why is burping, hiccups, and spitting in babies important?
What is the best way to burp a baby?
Burping in babies after night feed
Burping a baby with reflux
How can i help my baby swallow less air?
Why do babies hiccup?
Tips to avoid hiccups in toddlers
Spitting up in infants
Is spitting same as vomiting?


What Is Meant By Burping A Baby?

Both bottle-fed and breast-fed babies swallow air during feeding. Babies also swallow air when they cry or breathe. This air goes in the tummy causing gas, making the baby feel full. This makes the baby uncomfortable, and she may be cranky, fussy or cry inconsolably. The reason is that trapped wind in the tummy is making her uneasy. Hence, you need to burp your baby after her feeds so that she does not feel uncomfortable and the trapped air gets out of her tummy. Burping also frees space in your baby’s stomach, so that she can easily settle in and feed more.

Burping A Baby After Bottle-feeding

We know that babies do swallow air when they are suckling milk. However, those fed with bottles swallow more air. The faster flow of milk from the bottle’s nipples forces babies to gulp air between swallows. If your baby seems to have gas, burping the baby after every ounce or two of bottle feed is recommended. When bottle-feeding, keep the baby upright and tilt the bottle so as milk covers the nipple.

Burping A Baby After Breastfeeding

Babies who breastfeed may not need to be burped as often as those babies who are bottle-fed. However, the chances of swallowing air in are not negligible even in breastfed babies, so you will need to follow the baby’s cues. Breast-fed babies have fewer air problems because they can control the flow of milk at the breast and so they suck with a slower rhythm that allows them to better coordinate breathing and swallowing. They also have more frequent but smaller feeds, which helps in reducing gas. Some babies would be able to nurse effectively and would not need to be patted until they burp. If you feel that your baby seems comfortable after a feed, you can be assured that she does not need to be burped.
Once the baby is 4-6 months old, he will become quite efficient when it comes to eating and will not swallow a lot of air in. This is also the time when the baby will graduate to solids. Yet, if the baby seems uncomfortable and there seems to be something wrong with the tummy, burping could be helpful.
Mother burping a baby

Why Is Burping, Hiccups, And Spitting in Babies Important ?

As air fills the stomach, it obstructs space for milk and creates discomfort. When you continue to feed the baby, it may cause the milk to come back up. Burping is a method to relieve this gas from your baby’s stomach. Swallowed air gives the feeling of fuller stomach to the baby. This wind trapped in the stomach may make your baby irritable and cause spitting of milk.
Mothers who produce a lot of milk or have a very fast milk letdown need to burp their babies as the babies end up tend to gulp air as they swallow milk. If your baby spits a lot and tends to have a lot of gas in his tummy, or has gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) he will be fussy when you feed him. In such a case, you will need to burp him after every ounce of bottle feed and every 5 minutes of breastfeeding. If the baby does not burp, give up and try again with another position. Never miss the burp after you feed your baby.

What Is The Best Way To Burp A Baby?

The basic technique of burping involves gently patting the back while supporting your baby upright. Make sure that you pat gently, and not pound hard. There is every likelihood that the baby spits up or has a ‘wet burp’, so always keep a bib or a towel under the baby’s chin or up on your shoulder to prevent mess-ups. Most parents use one or a combination of below mentioned burping techniques.

1. On shoulder:

A popular burping technique is to hold your baby farther up on your shoulder – so that your shoulder presses lightly on the babies’ belly. The baby will be in upright position and the shoulder will create a gentle pressure that will entrap the burp. Gently rub/pat his back with one hand while supporting him with the other. Try this position only when your baby has sufficient control over his neck and head

2. Keep upright:

Keep your baby in an upright position for 10 to 15 minutes after feeding to help prevent the milk from coming back up. You can gently pat or rub his back. The baby’s chin should be on your shoulder when you try burping him upright

3. Belly on your lap:

Lay the baby on his belly, preferably on your outstretched legs. His head should be higher than the rest of the body such that the blood does not gushes to the head and gently pat his back. In this position, the baby should be perpendicular to your body. Put a cloth on your lap so as to catch any spit up

4. Rest:

Sit him upright on your lap. Do not let him hunch. Hold his chin in the V between your thumb and index finger. Put your other 3 fingers under his armpit. And that’s it. No rubbing or patting. Retain this position for a few minutes and your baby will burp on his own

5. Make the baby sit in your lap, facing away from you:

Sit him upright in your lap facing away from you. Support his chin and jaw lightly. Lean him forward, very slightly, support him with one hand and gently pat or rub his back with the other. A bib would help you deal with the spits, if any
Shoulder position burp

Burping In Babies After Night Feed

Most babies do not need to be burped at night. They suck much slower and swallow less air. Ensure that

  • Your baby is calm before bedtime
  • You do not fuss burping a sleepy baby. Babies tend to be sleepy soon after feeding

You can simply lay him over your hip as your lie on your side to coax burping. In this way, you can avoid walking and sitting for longer periods waiting for your little one’s burp.

Burping A Baby With Reflux

A baby whose gastric juices come to her mouth from the stomach is said to have a reflux, a condition when her esophageal sphincter is not working properly. This would cause the baby to spit up after feedings. This can also result in a vomit once in a while, but is not a cause to worry. Unless your baby is not gaining appropriate weight and seems uncomfortable, spitting is alright, even if it is frequent. You can talk this with your pediatrician the next time you visit him, but if the Burping, Hiccups, And Spitting in Babies is distressing your baby, you need to schedule an appointment right away.

How Can I Help My Baby Swallow Less Air?

  1. Tilt bottle to 45 degrees when bottle feeding. This allows air in the bottle to rise to the bottom and out of the nipple
  2. Similarly, breast-feeding mothers can keep the baby upright (45 degree angle)
  3. Ensure that the baby’s lips cover the areola not just the nipple (correct latch on)
  4. Regulate that the hole in bottle’s nipple is neither too small nor big
  5. Flex the baby’s knees up against the chest. Sometimes excess gas needs to be passed from the bottom too!
  6. Sometimes spit ups/bubbles may be the side effects of excessive crying or colic that can cause swallowing of air
  7. Try burping after every 5 minutes of feed. Burping eases space in the baby’s stomach and she can be fed more
  8. Change baby’s position frequently or while switching to the other breast. This will slow the gulping and reduce air intake
  9. Hold your baby upright for 15-20 minutes after every feed
  10. Do not indulge in over-exciting, jumping and jiggling activities with your baby just after feeding

lap position to burp

Why Do Babies Hiccup?

You must have felt your baby hiccuping while she was in your womb. After birth too, babies tend to hiccup, and it is commonly thought to be a sign of digestion. However, scientifically, hiccups are repetitive contractions of the diaphragm. Babies are more prone to reflux because the muscular valve at the end of the food pipe, which keeps food in hasn’t developed properly yet. Sometimes, milk may also be spit out with hiccups. The most common causes of Burping, Hiccups, And Spitting in Babies are:

  • Overfeeding
  • Swallowing too much air

If  Burping, Hiccups, And Spitting in Babies occur during a feeding, change his position, try making him burp and relax him down. You could wait until the hiccups are gone to resume feeding or you could resume feeding if the hiccups do not start- feeding may just stop them.

Tips To Avoid Hiccups In Toddlers

  • Follow all the above tips to avoid swallowing air
  • Feed at small intervals; do not let your baby become extremely hungry
  • Try to burp him and resume feeding after burp
  • Rub the baby’s back gently and change the feeding position
  • Give something to suck (pacifier or honey)
  • Identify what triggers hiccups and when, i.e. during/after feed?
  • Maintain a calm and quiet environment. Avoid loud/sudden noise and lights
  • Change bottle nipples to ones that feed less air

Spitting Up In Infants

Burp baby after every feed
Spitting in infants can occur due to many reasons – burping, drooling or simple if the baby has eaten more than his little stomach can hold. It could be messy, but is usually not a cause to be worried or concerned. By the time a baby learns to sit, he is most likely past the spitting age, however, some may continue to spit till they start walking, and some may spit throughout the first year of life. Even if the baby is sleeping Burping, Hiccups, And Spitting in Babies not pose any threat to the baby.

Is Spitting Same As Vomiting?

Spitting and vomiting are two different things. Spitting usually goes on without causing any disturbance or discomfort to the baby, but when the baby vomits, it is out of force and could leave your baby uncomfortable and in distress. If your baby vomits on a regular basis (one or more times a day) or if you notice blood or a bright green color in your baby’s vomit, consult your pediatrician.
Burping, Hiccups, And Spitting in Babies that bothers them is a matter of 4-6 months. Your baby will  eventually become a better eater as he would have adapted to the feeding process and will not swallow much air. Sometimes he may wake up because of gas – simply picking him up and walking might make him burp and put him back to sleep.

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